Technology is now our primary education tool. It facilitates our remote classrooms, connects educators to students, and delivers learning materials … and thank goodness! Even 5 years ago keeping more than vague contact with students during a school shut down would have been next to impossible. Online learning and the technology which makes it possible is now our best bet to ensuring continued educational access.
But as we come to rely more and more on hardware and educational software for everyday learning, it’s essential that data privacy is firmly built into every action and activity. So what do you need to know to keep yourself and your students safe during online learning?
The internet is a flexible, easily accessible and free tool which allows students to learn about the world. 🌎 But it’s not risk free. How can you keep your students safe online? ⛑️
— Kami (@usekamiapp) November 19, 2019
Data security terms that you should know
First things first, how do you know that the tools that you are using are safe? When it comes to adopting new technologies or even re-investigating current staples, there are a few key terms and resources that you should reference and check for in privacy policies.
Undoubtedly the best place to start when researching new technologies. The Common Sense Privacy Program uses a strict evaluation process to rate edtech applications and technologies in terms of privacy and compliance with data security regulations.
A federal law that protects the privacy of student education records in the United States. It also gives families certain rights to their children’s education records. All educational organizations in the US must be compliant with FERPA and it is good practice for all online applications that deal with student data to also meet these requirements. To make sure your student data is in secure hands, ensure all your software is FERPA compliant.
A legally enforceable pledge created and reviewed by the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF). Companies who have taken the pledge commit to a number of wide-ranging data security protection activities to safeguard student privacy and information security. Though not a strictly necessary requirement, holding a Student Privacy Pledge shows that a company takes data privacy seriously and that they have worked hard to maintain good security standards.
European legislation designed to protect all EU citizens from privacy and data breaches. It aims to give individuals control over their personal data and to simplify the regulatory environment. All companies that store information from EU citizens must be GDPR compliant.
- New Zealand Privacy Act (Privacy Act 1993)
New Zealand specific regulation that governs how agencies collect, use, disclose, store, retain, and give access to personal data within NZ.
— Kami (@usekamiapp) July 5, 2019
4 strategies to keep students secure during remote learning
Here are our top tips for keeping your students and yourself secure during online learning:
1. Carefully vet third-party applications
You should always be extremely cautious about who you trust with your own and your student’s data. This means carefully researching the third-party applications you choose to use in your remote classroom. Here are some you can follow to help you identify red flags:
- Look them up on Common Sense Privacy Program and check their rating and review. This will give you a good overview of the company’s cybersecurity and indicate whether you should pursue them further.
- Avoid applications that allow advertisements. Even if a company’s product is secure, including external ads can open up vulnerabilities.
- What have other people said about them? Finally, it’s very worth checking to see if any major security breaches or just general bad press have been reported about the company.
2. Update and regularly reread your data protection policy
Refresh yourself and your class on the contents of your school’s e-safety policy. This should include, or be supplemented by, a clear set of expectations around responsible internet use outlining basic but essential things like creating clear passwords and logging out of accounts before shutting down a device.
A good way to get students to engage with the e-safety policy is to make it a topic of discussion. Set up a chat group debate and explore certain actions as a group, or get students to comment on a copy of the document with their thoughts. Have your class think critically about why each security action is necessary and research a bit about how it keeps them safe.
— Kami (@usekamiapp) October 15, 2019
3. Make parents aware of cybersecurity
Remote learning is a journey for everyone, and who more so than for parents? The pandemic has promoted them from their traditional role as transport to the school gates to chief motivators and supporting teachers; or at the very least active observers of lessons. In the home learning, environment parents play an equal part in keeping children safe online, so it’s important they have the information to do just that.
Consider creating resources specifically for parents or even parent-student cybersecurity activities so that both parties can learn more about how to stay safe online.
4. Dive into Digital Citizenship
Digital citizenship gives students the tools to become safe, respectful, and skilled technology users. Introducing the 9 pillars into your activities can help reinforce cybersecurity messages and increase long term digital literacy. It can also be useful for engaging with tough topics like online bullying and inappropriate internet content, providing a dialogue and a safe space to allow students to explore these issues and even report them.
You can check out more about what Digital Citizenship is and how to implement it here.