The University of Melbourne has moved to allay privacy concerns amid revelations it is tracking students through their wi-fi usage.
The university said the practice, which looked at where people were moving around campus, helped institutions improve retention rates and the experience of students.
Privacy groups expressed concern about the practice, which is also in place at some institutions around the country.
The head of services at the University of Melbourne Paul Duldig said there was no way of identifying students.
“[We’re] simply looking at where the people’s phones are on campus and seeing whether they’re in particular rooms or walking across campus at particular times so we can plan better,” he told 774 ABC Melbourne.
A computer-science professor at Dartmouth College is building a smartphone application that can detect users’ levels of happiness, stress, and loneliness, he says, with the hope of helping students monitor their mental health.
The app, called StudentLife, draws on sensor data from smartphones to “infer human behaviors,” says the professor, Andrew Campbell. It was inspired partly by the mental-health struggles that Mr. Campbell’s brother experienced while in college. The professor also wants to test his hypothesis, based on classroom observations, that students’ fluctuating stress levels correspond to their behaviors.
This year, major media outlets highlighted concerns over student data privacy. How are education technology companies accessing and sharing student data? Are there loopholes and shady practices that teachers ought to be worried about?
This year, we asked nine educators—from district and school administrators to teachers and edtech coaches—about their thoughts on the privacy debate, how schools are handling it, and whether there’s a real cause for concern.
On January 1, 2016, “ SOPIPA”—the recently passed California student data privacy law that defines how edtech companies can use student data became effective. About 25 other states have passed similar laws that are already in effect, or will become effective. At the same time, more than 200 school service providers have now signed the Student Privacy Pledge, a legally enforceable commitment which has language closely aligned with these laws.
With the beginning of a new year and the expectation of another busy legislative cycle for privacy laws at both state and federal levels, it’s a good time for parents, school administrators and school service providers to take inventory on which companies and services are covered by these standards and understand what they actually require.
University students have less privacy for their campus health records than they would have if they sought care off campus. Schools say they are trying to seek the right balance between privacy and safety
When University of Oregon senior Laura Hanson was sexually assaulted by a fellow student a couple of days after New Year’s 2013, she said she felt violated and later shunned by her friends and sorority sisters.
The university’s drawn-out investigation of the incident—which substantiated her allegation—only added to her trauma.
Hanson’s ordeal wasn’t over. Last year, as she pressed forward with a claim against the university, Hanson learned that the school’s attorneys had obtained her confidential counseling records — her most intimate thoughts about what happened — without her permission.
Student Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 3157)
This bill would update and amend FERPA, and was introduced by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) with important co-sponsorship from Reps. John Kline (R-MN) and Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), the chairman and ranking minority member, respectively, of the House education committee. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) is also an original co-sponsor. Much of this bill mirrors current FERPA language, or is conceptually similar but updated to reflect current recordkeeping practices, but it also contains new requirements and restrictions in several key areas. Specifically, it imposes additional requirements for sharing student data with third party vendors performing school services and entities that perform college testing and financial aid analyses, including requiring education agencies/institutions to ensure such vendors have appropriate information security practices, requiring them to enter into written agreements with the vendors and mandating that such agreements are made available to parents. Additional key proposed changes from current law include: an express prohibition on the use of student information initially obtained to provide schools services for marketing or direct advertising to those students (with certain exceptions); a mandate to designate the school official responsible for education records security and establish a data breach notification policy; and a requirement that each State educational authority verify that institutions and local educational agencies under its jurisdiction have complied with the notice and procedural requirements of FERPA and certify to the U.S. Department of Education (the “Department”) that such institutions and agencies are in compliance.
In the past three years, policymakers in almost every state have considered laws to ensure the safety of student data, and the US Congress is considering seven bills on student data privacy. At the same time, the Every Student Succeeds (ESSA) Act requires that states adopt evidence-based interventions to improve school performance. The education research to inform these interventions depends on access to student data. In Policymaking on Education Data Privacy: Lessons Learned, NASBE Director of Education Data and Technology Amelia Vance outlines key lessons policymakers should contemplate before taking action.
Biometric Signature ID’s biometric identification software BioSIg-ID is now being used by over 50,000 students at Central Texas College in Killeen, Texas, the company has revealed.
The security software authenticates students prior to logging in to the school’s learning management system (LMS). The tech ensures that students login with a hand-drawn password that cannot be duplicated by anyone else.
So far this year, we’ve seen 94 student data privacy bills in 31 states (see our further analysis here). With 34 state legislatures still in session, we anticipate that several more bills will be signed into law in the coming months. While the stream of state legislation has certainly slowed compared to 2014 and 2015, we’re encouraged to see states building on their previous efforts—and those of their peers—to be thoughtful about protecting student privacy while still allowing for the use of data to support student learning.