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
School surveillance report.
NASBE is hosting a webinar on November 16 focused on school surveillance and the consequences for equity and privacy based on the recent report by J. William Tucker and Amelia Vance that examines the unintended effects of surveillance technologies that are used to keep students safe in schools. The authors highlight that despite hundreds of bills on student data privacy being introduced since 2014, privacy protections for school surveillance have not been addressed. The report teases apart the benefits and potential problems posed by school surveillance—noting that although the intent is to keep students safe, “surveillance can be abused and have unintended consequences.” One potential unintended consequence is decreased student disclosure of abuse or bullying due to the presence of recording devices. The report also addresses questions about the inclusion of data from surveillance, such as video footage, in students’ educational records.
Happenings. The FCC passed new rules that require internet service providers to get their users’ consent before selling their browsing history, mobile location data, and other sensitive personal information to third parties. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) published an analysis of the Student Privacy Pledge, stating that it contains loopholes that prevent it from actually preventing student data. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is pushing to develop an “engagement pedometer” worn by students to gauge in real-time which “classroom moments excite and interest them,” raising concerns about the technology being “creepy,” as well as skepticism about the assumption that emotional arousal corresponds to learning. Elana Zeide gave a talk about using big data ethically in education. This EdSurge article explores the tension between maintaining academic freedom and pursuing data privacy.
Data & Equity
Equity in athletics.
The Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act required all co-educational institutions of higher education that participate in the federal aid program to prepare a report on their athletic programs by October 15. Analysis of the data from these reports can be found here. The website allows users to search for data about the gender breakdowns of schools’ athletic program leadership. The interface is easy to navigate but the data breakdowns are not formatted in a way that makes it easy for users to understand. The equity measures also do not include factors other than gender that would provide a more in-depth view of the state of diversity in higher education athletics programs.
Happenings. This paper explores the use of predictive analytics in higher education, highlighting the ways that predictive analytics can “aid in discriminatory practices” and the ethical concerns associated with using data to make predictions. Data shows that people with untreated mental illness are “16 times more likely to be killed by police than other civilians approached or stopped by law enforcement.” A new study including 70 educators reveals that white male students are more likely than male students of color to be referred for gifted testing when their profiles indicate academic strength. This study should be replicated with larger and representative sample sizes to assess the generalizability of these findings. A new paper published by Rice sociology professor Ruth Lopez Turley attempts to tease apart the causes of the “disconnect between educational research and public policy.” Echoing Monica Bulger’s call for educational researchers to better communicate the value of their work to educational stakeholders, Turley argues that bridging this gap may improve educational policy.
Media Literacy Week: Creating Digitally Literate Citizens.
The second annual Media Literacy Week in the U.S. is now underway, featuring events across the country that run from Monday, October 31 to Friday, November 4. The mission of #MediaLitWk is to “highlight the power of media literacy education and its essential role in education today.” On Friday, October 28, a MediaLitWk kick-off gathering at Twitter headquarters—as part of the Digital Citizenship Summit—brought together more than 125 people in-person and more than 2,000 online viewers. Summit events included the announcement by Common Sense Kids Action, Digital Citizenship Institute, Media Literacy Now, and National Association of Media Literacy Education of a “new campaign . . . to encourage state lawmakers to promote digital citizenship in schools . . . [through] adoption of new legislation requiring the formation of state-level advisory committees charged with finding way to help ensure students use classroom technology safely and ethically while becoming savvy consumers and creators of online media and information.” In addition to this discussion of legislative reform, MediaLitWk is asking the public to join a nationwide pledge to “think critically about the media [we] consume and create.” Please check out other MediaLitWk events from the Youth and Media team at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, as well as many other MediaLitWk partner organizations, here!
UNICEF: Advancing Children’s Rights in a Digital Age.
On Wednesday, November 2, UNICEF is hosting an event in New York that draws on more than half a dozen years of its work promoting children's rights in a digital age. Panelists and moderators—including Sonia Livingstone, Principal Investigator of Global Kids Online, Sandra Cortesi, Director of Youth and Media team and Patrick Burton, Executive Director of the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention in South Africa—as well as participants from a range of sectors—including youth activists, nonprofit leaders, researchers, and industry representatives—will advance the understanding of what building a better Internet for children means by promoting a holistic, integrated and evidence-based approach to unpacking this question. This discussion will provide a valuable contribution to UNICEF’s upcoming preparation of the 2017 State of the World's Children report, UNICEF's flagship global report on youth, with regard to children's rights in a digital age. This event will also serve as a launch for Global Kids Online, an international research project coordinated by UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti in partnership with London School of Economics that seeks to develop a cross-national robust evidence base about children's digital rights, risks, and opportunities.
Happenings. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) launched an online family media plan tool that “lets you set guidelines for each child, with suggested items based on the AAP’s [new] age-specific recommendations and space to add or substitute your own family’s rules.” The media plan is meant to be flexible and emphasizes the importance of parents’ roles in shaping how, when, and how much online media their children consume. A first of its kind policy brief from the U.S. Departments of Education & Health and Human Services explores the “use of technology with early learners to help families and early educators implement active, meaningful and socially interactive learning. The brief includes a call to action for researchers and technology developers, highlighting topics for further research and encouraging the development of research-based products.” The U.S. Department of Education also launched a “new online tool that’s designed to rapidly evaluate ed tech products and help educators decide whether a product or tool is worth their money. The Ed Tech Rapid Cycle Evaluation (RCE) Coach is a free, openly licensed, web-based platform created in partnership with Mathematica, a policy research organization.” An article in the American Bar Association Journal explains why North Carolina’s cyberbullying statute has been held to be an unconstitutional violation of free speech.