Student Data Privacy
Student Directed Learning
Facebook and Summit Public Schools have collaborated to develop a free student-directed learning management system that will be used in 120 schools starting in fall 2016. The Summit Personalized Learning Platform puts the responsibility of pace setting and project selection in the hands of students rather than teachers. Students are given a view of all of their academic responsibilities for the year and can go through the customizable lesson modules at their own pace and in whatever order they choose. Students can also choose from a variety of project options to meet requirements.
Data & Equity
Privacy Concerns for Transgender Students Remain Contested
Last month, the Alberta privacy commissioner’s office ruled that an Edmonton public school breached a transgender girl’s privacy when teachers called out her original birth name at least six times during attendance. This is a landmark ruling in that it stresses the protection of students’ gender identities in Alberta public schools. In contrast, in 2011 a school in Utah defended its decision to expose a student's sexual orientation to his parents in light of safety and bullying concerns. Students’ gender identities and sexual orientations are considered personally identifiable information under FERPA but may be revealed in circumstances where FERPA’s legal requirements permit such data-sharing.
Happenings: Data & Society Research Institute published a working paper on accountability in public education. Data on ethnic groups that make up the Asian American and Pacific Islander category is sparse but show disparity in college attendance among specific ethnic groups. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services released guidance to schools to promote equity for students with disabilities. The U.S. Department of Education updated its #Rethink Discipline page, an online tool that contains data and resources about the prevalence and implications of school disciplinary tactics and information about effective alternatives. John B. King, U.S. Secretary of Education, spoke at the National Urban League convention in downtown Baltimore and urged leaders to be vocal advocates for enhancing equity in education. A bill proposed in California would remove exemption from anti-discrimination laws for religious institutions, preventing LGBT discrimination at religious schools. Political and social commentator Marcus Bright urges civil rights groups to collaborate with institutions of higher education to increase access and improve economic conditions for underserved communities.
How to Teach “DigCit”
Teachers and administrators looking for creative and thoughtful ways to teach digital citizenship in their classrooms and schools this fall should consider this recent guidance on EdSurge from Julie Cremin and Kerry Gallagher at St. John’s Prep in MA. Ms. Cremin, a Digital Learning Specialist, and Ms. Gallagher, a Technology Integration Specialist, describe how their school has pursued the goal of “full integration of digital citizenship (or DigCit) curriculum into every class and every content area—at every grade level.” Key steps include clear communication across all school constituencies, a shared definition of DigCit, and sufficient time and resources for curricular design, roll-out, and reflection. Examples of how lessons were constructed and implemented are provided. Cremin and Gallagher emphasize the importance of creating “a larger culture shift [toward DigCit], and not just a one-year initiative.”
Colorado Middle School Integrates Ed Tech In Effort to Support English Language Learners & Improve Test Performance
M. Scott Carpenter Middle School in Adams County, Colorado is at risk of being shut down if its students’ performance on “Colorado’s latest set of test scores, set for release this month,” don’t show the necessary improvement. To improve students’ learning, while doing “zero test prep,” the School has employed several strategies, including using some federal funds to buy new technologies to support their English language learners– 58% of the school population. These tech offerings feature “more online tutoring for students who struggle with literacy,” as well as “digital textbook[s] . . . [with] additional resources for students who are learning English as a second language: The textbook will define and sound out words students don’t understand.” But these new tech teaching tools have not been rolled out in isolation; rather, they are part of a larger shift toward creating a more connected learning environment, which also includes relationship building and “more challenging, more personal teaching”— instead of the proverbial teaching to the test.
Happenings: The Connected Learning Alliance produced an infographic depicting the importance of out-of-school learning for all students. Microsoft and the Town of Normal, Illinois, have formed a “digital alliance partnership” to provide residents with the new skills needed for today’s workforce. Virgin Islands Next Generation Inc. is promoting the Absolute Beginners Computer Lab, a free tutorial on computer use for beginners to “help bridge the digital divide.” A recent study by AdvanceEd “finds few classrooms actually embed technology use into the regular fabric of the student experience.” Vanderbilt University has launched a new podcast called to “explore creative, intentional and effective uses of technology to enhance student learning” in higher ed.