August 24, 2016

8/24: Student Privacy, Equity, and Digital Literacy News

Student Privacy, Equity, and Digital Literacy Newsletter

Week Eight: August 24, 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

The Internet and You: New Curriculum to Teach Kids about Digital Privacy & Related Topics
Earlier this week, the Youth and Media team at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, in collaboration with the New York Public Library and WGBH, released The Internet and You: Curricular Materials for Educators Grades 1-3.

“The Internet and You” is part of a growing collection of privacy and other resources available on the Digital Literacy Resource Platform at the Berkman Klein Center, through generous support from the Digital Media and Learning (DML) Trust Challenge grant.

Featuring Ruff Ruffman: Humble Media Genius from PBS, “The Internet and You” provides interactive lesson plans about digital privacy, search engines, online advertising, and the creation of positive online experiences that can be used in schools, after-school programs, and beyond. In this free resource for educators, which includes worksheets kids can do at home with their parents or other caregivers, Ruff helps young learners “explore what kinds of information should be kept ‘private,’ as well as consider what kinds of situations might involve their parents or other important people in their lives.” Ruff also helps kids learn how to go about keeping information private; for instance, students are asked to consider whether it’s more effective to keep information on a phone private by putting a passcode on the phone or, when using the phone, “yell[ing], ‘PRIVATE INFORMATION OVER HERE! PAY NO ATTENTION TO WHAT I’M DOING!’”  

The Youth and Media team would love to hear which approach you prefer and, more broadly, what reflections and suggestions you have on the curriculum. Please let us know via Twitter @YouthandMedia or email to Berkman Klein Fellow Leah Plunkett (

Happenings: EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) testified before the Wisconsin legislature to encourage lawmakers to protect student privacy by adopting EPIC’s Student Privacy Bill of Rights. The Student Data Privacy Consortium is expanding on the work of the Massachusetts Student Privacy Alliance to help schools and other educational institutions without model contracts for student privacy put templates in place and those that already have such models form an alliance in their area. Data Quality Campaign is hosting a webinar today on how “Privacy and Effective Data Use Go Hand-in-Hand.”

Data & Equity

New Florida Law Prioritizes Standardized Testing Scores Over Classroom Grades When Promoting to Next Grade Level
Parents in Florida are taking legal action after their children were not promoted to the next grade due to standardized reading test scores despite good grades. In the past two years, Florida has begun to enforce a state law that prevents students from being promoted to the fourth grade if they do not earn a satisfactory score on a mandated reading test. Parents of over a dozen students argue that the students’ report cards be considered in decisions related to grade promotion. For students who are less likely to have high parental involvement or legal resources to fight being held back, what might be the consequence of this law?

Happenings: Researchers tested the impact of predictive analytics in policing on gun violence and found that the impact on identifying future homicide victims was too low to make a meaningful reduction in crime but that individuals identified as being at high risk of gun violence had an increased chance of being arrested for a shooting. ESSA’s requirement that states measure and report academic performance of children from military families, and homeless and foster children will provide a clearer picture of how the needs of these subgroups are being met. The Movement for Black Lives demanded an “end to the privatization of education” in a new policy overview. Black pro-charter school organizations are appealing to the NAACP to reject a resolution calling for a moratorium on charter school expansion. This podcast discussed the college debt trap and how it has a disparate impact on students from low income backgrounds. Aiming to understand why data from international assessments shows that American students are performing below their international peers, a report released by the National Conference of State Legislatures blames “‘silver bullet strategies and piecemeal approaches.’”  The Center for American Progress released a national report that shows disparities in how LGBT people of color are treated in the U.S. criminal justice system, stressing the roles of unsafe schools in which increased rates of harassment may force LGBT students of color to defend themselves and thus be at increased risk for disciplinary action, and the school-to-prison pipeline in pushing LGBT people into the criminal justice system. Nextdoor, a neighborhood-based social networking site, has a new “pilot project running in select neighborhoods across the U.S., [in which] the company has altered the rules for posting” to combat racial profiling.

Digital Literacy

Community Colleges May Fall Short on Teaching Digital Literacy to Adult Students
As of spring 2016, over 2 million students over the age of 24 were attending two-year public colleges; however, these adult students may be matriculating to community colleges without strong digital literacy skills. Researchers at the Adult Literacy Research Center at Georgia State University, Iris Feinberg and Daphne Greenberg, point to “[a] 2013 survey [that] showed that 59 percent of adults with a high school diploma or less had low digital skills and 44 percent had medium level digital skills.” Feinberg and Greenberg are “concerned about . . . whether community colleges give students the skills they need to succeed in the 21st-century workplace,” which include the abilities to navigate technology, communicate clearly, and solve problems.  “Forty-eight percent of community college students are the first in their families to attend college,” thus community college students who do develop strong digital literacy skills might be in a unique position to help foster digital literacy in their family, community, and social networks as well. The American Graduation Initiative to invest in community colleges (proposed by President Obama in 2015) is an important building block toward increasing digital literacy among community college students; however, Feinberg and Greenberg “believe that merely investing money in community colleges won’t help American students and workers get the critical thinking skills they need to succeed. What needs to be addressed are issues of access, digital readiness and curriculum.”

Happenings: Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and a professor of computer science and international law, argued in the New York Times that Apple’s recent decision to change the handgun emoji to a squirt gun is “ill considered because it breaks the conceptual compatibility that Unicode is meant to establish [between devices on different carriers]” and that “[a]s free citizens, we acquiesce to infantilizing digital infrastructure at our peril.”  The Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe) launched a new high school curriculum, Copyright & Creativity for Ethical Digital Citizens, “to inspire creativity and help students make conscious choices about sharing their own creative work while understanding the value of respecting the rights of other creators.” The Nashville After Zone Alliance (NAZA) has partnered with Metro Nashville Public Schools to create after-school programming that incorporates educational services, such as one-on-one literacy tutors, based on the needs identified through students’ educational data. ThoughtSTEM, the creator of Minecraft educational software LearnToMod, has been awarded a $750,000 grant by the National Science Foundation. Starting this fall, Tufts University is offering an Early Childhood Technology graduate program that focuses on how to incorporate technology into learning environments for young students.