I have always been a teacher, and have always thought as a teacher. I am only now considering other points of view in K-12 education, such as the view of an IT professional or a school leader. As a teacher, I have always taken my cues from two groups: students and administration. When administration asks me to do something, consider something, try something, implement something, I do my best to meet their expectations. This school year especially, my school district has made an assertive push with technology. We have the infrastructure in place, the connectivity, and we are very near our goal of having 1:1 devices. I have fully embraced the excitement and opportunity for learning and growth with the integration of technology into the classroom. Therefore, I am shocked that our district administration has not made more effort to make sure teachers district-wide are aware of the student data privacy laws that are in effect. Most recently in California is the SOPIPA, which stands for the Student Online Personal Information Protection Act. This piece of legislation prohibits online educational services from selling student data or profiling students for advertising purposes or any other purpose than K-12 education. James Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media, who helped to create the law, said, "I think this is a blunt call to industry to say that school data is for educational purposes. Period" (Herold, 2014). I agree, and think it is a timely piece of legislation, as school districts get excited about the educational possibilities inherent in ever-evolving technology.
The advice I would give to the leadership in my school district is that it needs to become SOMEONE'S job to know SOPIPA and other student data privacy laws, inside and out. Our district needs a Technology Security Specialist, not to scare everyone or batten down the hatches, but to really know the parameters of these laws and to provide current and accurate information regarding these laws, to all stakeholders in the district. Teachers are overwhelmed with just trying to learn how to use technology, but it is clear that teachers need more than how-to; teachers need comprehensive information about how to implement technology and resources in a manner that is responsible and aware of the parameters of the laws aimed at protecting student privacy. This technology security specialist should work with the district to create clear policies and procedures for how teachers investigate and choose online tools and resources. I think this technology security specialist should have ample knowledge of educational and non-educational online resources and tools, and generate a comprehensive list of the most widely-utilized of these that contains pertinent information for teachers to reference when designing online learning experiences in the classroom. This policy should also create a procedure for teachers to follow when they discover a new tool that isn't on the comprehensive district list- like a work order. The tech security specialist could review the online tool and give it the thumbs up or thumbs down. This would take the guess-work out of trying to plan a lesson or design a classroom work flow. This would be ideal because everyone would win: the district would know it was taking a giant step toward ensuring privacy in regard to student data, teachers could move forward more confidently with technology integration, and students and parents could rest more easily, knowing their personal data is secure. Our school district wants to become the model of innovation and excellence in education, and we are well on our way. The district wants teachers to be innovative with technology, to transform the teaching and learning happening in their classrooms. If our district put something like a technology security specialist in place, as I have described, I feel it would be much progress toward that district vision and mission, proving that, "The old notion of trading privacy for innovation is a false choice" (Herold, 2014).
'Landmark' Student-Data-Privacy Law Enacted in CaliforniaEducation Week - Digital Education,. (2015).'Landmark' Student-Data-Privacy Law Enacted in California. Retrieved 9 March 2015, from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2014/09/_landmark_student-data-privacy.html