October 06, 2016

10/5: Student Privacy, Equity, Digital Literacy Newsletter

Student Privacy, Equity, and Digital Literacy Newsletter

Week Eleven: October 5, 2016

The Youth and Media team at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and the Data & Society Research Institute are proud to bring you this Student Privacy, Equity, and Digital Literacy newsletter on a bi-weekly basis. If you have suggestions or reflections, please send them our way—thanks for reading!

Student Data Privacy
Majority of States Have Introduced Student Data Privacy Laws
Data Quality Campaign has released a summary of student data privacy legislation in 2016. States were focused on processes for making decisions about data use, creating transparent data practices, and defining third-party providers’ access and use. Highlights include:
  • Student data privacy remained a priority issue for state legislatures across the United States.
  • 49 states and the District of Columbia have now introduced one student data privacy bill and 36 states have one or more new student privacy laws.
  • One third of the bills introduced contained provisions modeled on SOPIPA.
  • Almost half of the bills introduced “governed the data activities of online service providers.”
  • Many of the bills granted school districts new responsibilities for safeguarding data.
Happenings. In Colorado, attempts to protect student privacy are restricting the ability to provide transparency in testing performance. The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University has published a new briefing about student privacy and education technology research as a part of their paper series “Translating Research for Action: Ideas and Examples for Informing Digital Policy.” The Bush Institute at the George W. Bush Presidential Center released a new online tool that allows users to compare the educational data of over 100 U.S. cities.
Data & Equity
Data Revealing and Obscuring Inequalities
A recent paper by Sorelle Freidler, Carlos Scheidegger, and Suresh Venkatasubramanian looks into how “fairness” is measured and programmed in algorithms. The paper provides a thoughtful look into assumptions about fairness and the challenges of measurement. In other news this week, an article in The Atlantic reports that “online” classrooms are not leveling the playing field as expected, but rather, replicate inequalities found in physical classrooms. A Pew study of adult learners comports with earlier studies that minority groups and those with low education levels and/or low income are least prepared for engaging online learning opportunities. In another study, Pew reports that crime reporting in drug-free school zones may be inaccurate. Zoning for drug-free school areas are reportedly inconsistent, with some encompassing entire towns while others are limited to school property. Pew reports that these inconsistencies impact reporting and charges of drug-related crimes, potentially inflating these numbers. Urban residents are far more likely to live in a drug-free school zone than rural residents, meaning that a person who commits a drug offense potentially faces a harsher penalty if they live in a large city rather than a small town. Whether considering algorithms, classrooms, or drug-free zones, data can serve to make the process of determining fairness more transparent, make visible the populations underserved by educational technologies, or show where disparities in implementation of laws might disproportionately penalize the communities they serve. As we continue to shift into an increasingly data-driven society, these examples indicate the importance of being critical of data stories.
Happenings. Cameras in special education classrooms are intended to protect students from abuse but advocates argue that the presence of cameras might drive abuse “underground” making it even harder to detect. There is a lack of data about students with mental health problems, revealing potential gaps in understanding the factors behind poor student attendance and performance. Jade E. Davis, Associate Director of Digital Learning Projects at LaGuardia Community College, challenges the notion of edtech as a cure-all to inequity in education. The ACLU of Massachusetts has asked the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to vacate over 24,000 drug cases that were tainted by ex-chemist Annie Dookhan. State educational technology directors have outlined plans to increase school bandwidth capacity in the hopes of supporting digital learning and bridging the technology divide in schools and homes. In response to the Justice Department’s demand that they make free online content accessible to those with disabilities, the University of California Berkeley has announced that they might remove the free content altogether due to financial constraints. Federal data shows that over 800,000 people with disabilities who were found eligible for educational services received no assistance between 2010 and 2014.
Digital Literacy
DML 7: How to Keep Learners & Equity at the Heart of Ed Tech Design & Use
The seventh annual Digital Media and Learning Conference is taking place later this week from October 5-7 at U.C. Irvine. DML 7 will bring a “learner-centered, equity-oriented approach to educational technology.” Conference highlights will include sessions on: “Deconstructing Disneyland: An Experiment in Theme Park-Based Media Literacy Education”; “Art is What Your Digital Teaching Needs”; and “What is the Intellectual Culture of Games?” (a keynote for our current PokemonGo era that examines “promises and tensions around game-based learning amid the larger context of educational change”).  This “inclusive, international gathering of scholars and practitioners in the digital media and learning field” can be engaged on Twitter (#2016DML) as it unpacks challenges and opportunities around digital literacy that transcend disciplines, theory and practice, empirical and qualitative work, and other conventional divides. The DML conference is organized by the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub at the UC Humanities Research Institute (University of California, Irvine).
Happenings. Georgetown University is launching a new degree program: Masters of Art in Learning Design, “which combines educational technology, instructional design, and learning analytics.” Gina Raimondo, Governor of Rhode Island, recently told participants at the “Digital Promise Education Innovation Clusters meeting that her state’s size and demographics make it a perfect fit for testing educational technology.” The recently updated Statistics in Schools program from the federal Census Bureau offers teachers many new resources to “start creating future statisticians and data analysts as early as kindergarten.” Snap (formerly Snapchat) has released a “new set of glasses that lets users capture short videos from their own perspective and post it to the app,” sparking some commentary that the “death of wearable technology has been severely overstated,” as well as some “surveillance and privacy fears among social media user[s].” The New York Times profiles the “new generation of amateur sexperts” from whom youth and young adults are seeking counsel on sexuality and relationships; the Times explains that for “young people raised with abstinence-only education in school and unfettered pornography online, these internet sex gurus offer a third option — access to other young people who feel comfortable talking about sex. This is sex ed by and for internet natives: It is personal, energetic, unfiltered and not entirely fact-checked.” Are “the major tech companies” getting into ed tech in order to “get the benefit of exposing their products to kids at an early age, familiarizing them with hardware and software in an effort to garner brand loyalty”?