July 27, 2016

7/27: Student Privacy, Equity, and Digital Literacy News

Student Privacy, Equity, and Digital Literacy Newsletter

Week Six: July 27, 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

Ohio Supreme Court Orders Release of Student Directory Data
Last week, the Ohio Supreme Court weighed in on a dispute between the Springfield City School District and School Choice Ohio, a non-profit that aims “to close the information gap so that parents can close the achievement gap.” During the 2013-2014 academic year, School Choice Ohio requested “student names, addresses, parent telephone numbers and other contact information” from the District so that it could send “information to parents about vouchers students in low-performing schools can use to attend private schools.” The District only shared student names and addresses, claiming that the rest was protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA"). The Court disagreed, explaining that “‘the superintendent cannot create FERPA prohibitions by making post-consent [forms signed by parents] discretionary decisions,’” thus the District had to release the requested data “as long as parents have consented to making the information available.” The Court concluded, however, that the District was not required to “change its student privacy policies.” More information about the decision in this case, State ex rel. School Choice Ohio, Inc. v. Cincinnati Pub. School Dist., as well as links to the full opinion and oral argument, are available here.  
Happenings: Data & Society has published Personalized Learning: The Conversations We're Not Having to examine benefits of personalized learning by reviewing the evidence base and tease out the potential consequences of algorithmic decision making for student learning. Passcode, the Christian Science Monitor’s “modern field guide to security and privacy,” is hosting a Privacy Lab talk on July 27 on the evolution of a “new student privacy paradigm.” Data Quality Campaign’s Summer Playlist webinar series on “opportunities in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) where states can leverage the power of education data” has a webinar on privacy & effective data use coming up on August 24. States with new student privacy laws are continuing to roll-out these new laws; for instance, on July 12, Connecticut had a ceremonial signing of its new student privacy law by a state rep and one of the parent advocates who was a driving force behind the law’s passage.  
Data & Equity
Data Sheds Light on Students with Disabilities
College enrollment rates for students with disabilities have increased during the previous two decades, yet graduation rates have remained the same. Researchers at Penn State’s Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH) analyzed data from 5,696 students at more than 350 college counseling centers in the US to gain a deeper understanding of the concerns of students with disabilities. They found that students with disabilities expressed concerns similar to those of students without disabilities, and that their concerns were not necessarily focused on issues related to their disabilities. The data also showed that students with disabilities reported higher levels of generalized anxiety and academic struggles than their peers without disabilities. Students with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia, were more likely to have attempted suicide than students with physical and learning disabilities.
Happenings: Preliminary data from the US Transgender Survey reveals a link between policy that restricts bathroom access and trans people’s restriction of food and drink intake to avoid going to the bathroom. Alex Wagner highlights the roles that technology and social media have taken in revealing injustice against the Black community.  El Paso Independent School District is launching a technology enhanced project-based learning effort to provide students with two-way dual language instruction that maintains the academic and linguistic fluency of two or more languages. The Office of Civil Rights is requiring that every public school district in the US report on the number of incidents of religious-based bullying or harassment in their schools in the 2015-2016 school year. Third-graders in Newton, MA appear to be breaking new ground for elementary age civic digital engagement using a Change.org petition and Facebook for their group, Kids Against Trump, to connect outside the walls of their school with others who share their concerns about "the Trump Effect,” a phenomenon blamed—legitimately or not—for a rise in reported incidents of anti-Semitism, religious intolerance, anti-immigrant hate speech, and general incivility, including among students."
Note: Twitter activity during Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention responded strongly to claims that violence was on the rise citing Pew’s report that violence nationwide has decreased in the last decade. However, in recent months there have been a number of tragic mass shootings, people of color dying at the hands of police, and cases of police killings. Does this data mean that violence is decreasing for everyone or does violence against certain groups continue at the same or an increasing rate?
Digital Literacy

Pokemon Go: A Snapshot of Public Dialogue
Pokemon Go, the wildly successful augmented reality mobile game for iOS and Android created by Niantic Labs, marks the first time an augmented reality program has been used on such a large scale. The game uses a player’s actual location via GPS and phone camera to impose the game onto a player’s real-world surroundings. Gameplay focuses on catching Pokemon that spawn in specific areas and making them stronger to take over gyms, which are guarded by other players. Certain types of Pokemon are only found in some areas; in addition, free items such as pokeballs and potions can be acquired at PokeStops, which are located in different places, incentivizing players to go out in order to level up.

Since the launch of this game, there has been widespread public discussion about Pokemon Go (“pGo”) and data privacy, new forms of social interaction, personal safety, and other related topics.
Here’s a brief snapshot of some of the conversational topics that have unfolded as pGo has created a whole new type of connected everyday reality:  A number of outlets have offered guidance for parents, teachers, and other adults on how to support youth in using pGo safely and productively. Some of the key points include: Happenings: The Youth and Media Team at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University released A Family Guide and FAQ to Minecraft: Insights from a Research Project (written by David Cruz, Paulina Haduong, and Urs Gasser) to help parents understand the game and better engage with their children on the topic. The National Association of Elementary School Principals recently “announced the winners of its Digital Leader of Early Learning Awards.”  Facebook is supporting Code.org with $15 million in funding, with a focus on increasing “gender and racial diversity.” Teachers that want to integrate tech use in their classrooms but find resources to be tight may enjoy these tips. The Michigan Science Center in Detroit has recently received $1.44 million from Toyota to “expand its ability to foster STEM education by developing all-new programming and educational connected learning initiatives for both teachers and students.” Applications are open until August 1, 2016 for the iHub Pitch games for ed tech entrepreneurs and “educators who wish to improve their instructional practice through personalized learning.” On July 28, Education Week hosts “Diplomas Count: Finding Great Local Partnerships to Build School Community,” which looks at connected learning opportunities; registration here. Childnet International recently hosted its seventh annual film competition, where participants had “to create a short film about how to 'Shine Online' and use the internet positively.” Parenting for a Digital Future & the Media Policy Project at the London School of Economics and Political Science are publishing a series of blog posts about the nature and role of digital “screen time.”