June 15, 2016

6/15: Student Privacy, Equity, and Digital Literacy News

Student Privacy, Equity, and Digital Literacy Newsletter

Week Three: June 15, 2016

The Youth and Media team at the Berkman 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 

Privacy Advocates Accuse Presidential Administration of Not Properly Protecting Student Data  
A coalition of privacy advocates has sent a petition accusing the Obama administration of not properly protecting student data from unauthorized disclosure. The organizations behind the petition include, but are not limited to: the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Association of School Librarians, the Center for Digital Democracy, Common Sense Kids Action, and the Consumer Federation of America. The petition urges the Education Department to strengthen FERPA, specifically addressing the sharing of student data with third parties without permission from students or parents. Detailed in the petition are nine instances of privacy breaches and reference to Fordham Law School’s Center on Law and Information Policy’s 2009 study, which found that “many statewide longitudinal databases generally had weak privacy protections.” The petition urges the Education Department to establish new rules for encryption, privacy-enhancing techniques and breach notification within FERPA.
Happenings: Anya Kamenetz examines what is lost when schools focus too much on student data. Facebook has a new DeepText AI that categorizes text with near-human accuracy. The International Association for K-12 Online Learning asserts that broadband, data systems, student data privacy and security, and open educational resources are critical to implementing personalized learning. The FBI has proposed exemptions from the Privacy Act to avoid public scrutiny of its biometric database. West Corporation hosted a webinar for school and district leaders offering nine best practices for navigating student data privacy policies and frameworks on June 9. The American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference in Orlando, FL on June 27 will host a conference session aiming to discuss student data privacy. Catherine D’Ignazio stressed that data is deeply influenced by the context in which it is created at the June 9 Unflattening and Enacting Visualization, a workshop hosted at the Graduate Center at CUNY.


Data & Equity

Resource Gaps in Low-Income Communities Linked to Gaps in Student Achievement
The Learning Policy Institute (LPI) recently released a report finding a link between teacher seniority and student achievement. While a number of organizations such as City Year, Teach for America, and Inner City Teaching Corps place recent college graduates in under-resourced urban and rural public schools, findings from LPI suggest that more experienced teachers improve both the quality of teaching among their peers and student learning outcomes. Harvard researcher Richard Rothstein points to a lack of access to high-quality teachers as one cause of the persistent academic achievement gap for students of color. The Alliance for Excellent Education reports that students of color and students from low-income families are twice as likely to have inexperienced and unqualified teachers.
Happenings: Data released from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights shows persistent gaps in access to early learning, courses and programs that lead to college and career readiness, and rates of student retention for low-income communities. The report further shows that students of color are disproportionately subjected to higher disciplinary rates, including restraint and forced seclusion. A survey of 2000 K-12 teachers shows that teachers perceive an increase in bullying statements directed at children’s ethnicity or immigrant status, suggesting that students are mimicking “toxic political rhetoric.” At the June 9 Unflattening and Enacting Visualization, a workshop to critically examine representations of data hosted at the Graduate Center at CUNY, Kelli Moore asked what color we think of when we think of crime. At the same workshop, Nishant Shah raised concerns about the right to not be counted, saying that a desire for privacy can cause suspicion, especially for marginalized groups. Discussion about the event can be found using #critviz2016.

Digital Literacy 

#ReplyforAll UNICEF Campaign
UNICEF launched the #ReplyforAll campaign to talk about the safety of adolescents online and promote digital literacy on a global scale. In April 2016, UNICEF conducted a poll of over 10,000 18-year-olds from 25 countries: “Perils and Possibilities: Growing Up Online”. About 80% of those polled thought children and adolescents were in some danger of being sexually abused or taken advantage of online, while over 50% believed that bullying or abuse would never happen to them. While these and other findings demonstrate an awareness of the dangers online, they further reveal that adolescents generally believe that online bullying or abuse won’t happen to them. UNICEF’s initiative pushes for digital literacy to become more prevalent both in school and at home to protect kids from cyberbullying and sexual exploitation. UNICEF’s blog contains ways kids can get involved at their school and safety tips.
Virtual Minecraft Coding Summer Camp
Connected Camps is offering online camps that use Minecraft to teach kids ages 8-15 game design, coding, engineering, and other skills. The campers are broken down into small groups to learn chosen skills from experienced counselors. Connected Camps also offers some girls-only versions of these camps so “girls can explore their STEM interests in a non-competitive setting.” The use of Minecraft creates a familiar and established environment in which the campers can interact. Learning to code in a game setting can make the lessons a more fun and meaningful fit with the campers’ interests, such as learning loops and variables to create new behaviors. The virtual camps are typically a week long with different sessions throughout the summer, some beginning as soon as June 27. Connected Camps also offers a free Kid Club Server, which is a “safe, moderated Minecraft server” with counselor-led activities to help develop problem solving and digital citizenship.
Happenings: The second round of champions for The Advance Queensland Community Digital Champions were announced at their last roundtable June 6. Digital Champions are members of the community who promote digital literacy through local projects. A list of the new champions and their projects is available. In Philadelphia, Digital Skills and Bike Thrills now allows people to get 6 months of free bike sharing after taking an introductory computer literacy class, after multiple stakeholders realized the inequity that arose from only being able to offer online bike sharing memberships. Boston Civic Media had its second annual conference June 10 with topics including Civic Art, Media Literacy, Systems and Advocacy, and Inclusion and Engagement. Notes on the event are available here and discussion about the event can be found using #bostoncivicmedia