Surveys related to student privacy and the adoption of ed tech products

  • Ed tech start-ups do not prioritize student privacy in their products.

In 2017, a team from Carnegie-Mellon surveyed ed tech start -ups to see how the individuals involved in creating these businesses viewed the importance of protecting  student  privacy in the design of their products.  They found that it was a low priority for most of them — primarily because their investors did not appear to have a “meaningful interest” in the issue. The results of the study were covered widely here and here.  A summary of the findings are here .

  • Most school technology leaders fail to take basic security steps to safeguard their data. 

Only 15 percent say they have a cybersecurity plan for their districts, according to a survey by COSN and Ed Week, and  only 19% have had their security practices independently audited.  Nearly three fourths of IT leaders say they are not “adding security safeguards to vendor negotiations.”

  • Districts do not demand research validation before buying ed-tech products.

Researchers from the University of Virginia surveyed district technology decision-makers and found the following: When making purchasing and adoption decisions regarding a new technology-based product, only 11 percent of district leaders said they  require a peer-reviewed study showing it is effective.    An even smaller number – 3 percent — demand that the research be done independently from the company.  Articles about these findings are here and here; the 2017 study is here.

  • Many apps targeted at children collect their data for marketing purposes.

A team of U Cal Berkeley professors tested more than 5000 apps targeted to children on the Google Play website.  They found that more than half of these apps failed to protect children’s privacy a and were collecting their data for advertising purposes without parent consent — in violation of COPPA.  See the article here.  One can search  Android apps here; apps categorized as “Educational” or “Education” here.  Class Dojo, a widely used classroom app  used for behavior control, was found to have multiple tracking identifiers including location, android advertising ID, android ID, phone configuration, and more.