September 22, 2016

9/21: Student Privacy, Equity, Digital Literacy Newsletter

Student Privacy, Equity, and Digital Literacy Newsletter

Week Ten: September 21, 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 Police Post Facebook Pictures of Four-Year-Old Boy After His Grandmother Overdosed on Drugs

How are governmental institutions other than schools thinking about child data privacy these days? Let’s take a quick peek beyond the schoolhouse walls at another governmental institution with vital responsibilities for youth safety and welfare: law enforcement. Last week, police in East Liverpool, Ohio, took an unconventional approach to getting help for a four-year-old boy whose grandmother had overdosed on opioids. After police found the boy in the backseat of a car with his grandmother unconscious in the passenger seat and her boyfriend almost unconscious in the driver’s seat, they put pictures of the disturbing scene on their Facebook page—with the child’s face in full view. Asked about whether officers had thought about “protecting [the child’s] privacy” by shielding his face in the post, the police chief explained:  “‘We thought about that, but you know, within a month, no one's even going to remember what he looked like, and in 10 years, no one's even going to know that's who that was. So we decided it was even in his best interest. This will get him the help he needs.’” Shortly after the post, the grandmother “pleaded no contest to a child endangering charge;” her attorney explained that she was “embarrassed by the international attention the [Facebook] photos have received and wanted the case over.”

Happenings: “Operation Child Tracker” led to a settlement of close to a million dollars between the NY Attorney General and four companies—Viacom, Inc.; Mattel, Inc.; Hasbro, Inc.; and Jumpstart Games, Inc.—whose websites were found through a two-year investigation to be “home to tracking technology that illegally enabled third-party vendors, such as marketers or advertising companies, to track children’s online activity in violation of COPPA.” The companies have agreed to “comprehensive reforms to protect children from improper tracking in the future.”  NASBE (National Association of State Boards of Education) publications discuss the importance of data from formative educational assessments and the future of virtual reality ed tech. The Student Privacy Pledge recently hit 300 signatories.


Data & Equity

Study Shows that Student Surveillance Is Not Colorblind  

Jason P. Nance, Associate Professor at the University of Florida Levine College of Law, published a report examining racial inequalities of student surveillance in US schools. Nance analyzed data from the National Center for Educational Statistics’ (NCES) 2009-2010 School Survey on Crime and Safety (2009-2010 SSOCS). The 2009-2010 SSOCS contained information about “school security practices, school crime, student demographics, neighborhood crime, and school disorder.” Nance controlled for factors such as violent incidents, threats of violence, possession of weapons and drugs, incidents of theft and vandalism, the degree of overall disorder in the school as perceived by the school principal, principals’ perception of crime in the school’s neighborhood, geographic region, traditional or nontraditional school, and community and external groups’ involvement in schools’ efforts to promote school safety. Despite analyzing the impact of all of these factors, every single statistical model Nance looked at indicated that higher concentrations of minority students were predictive of a greater likelihood that schools would employ stricter security measures. A summary of the full report can be found here.

Happenings: Boston College will be hosting the 16th Annual Diversity Challenge: Race, Culture, and Educating Our Youths - Developing Whole People Not Widgets, a conference sponsored by the Institute for the Study and Promotion of Race and Culture at Boston College on October 28-29. In her book “Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy,” Cathy O’Neil argues that algorithmic based decisions reinforce discrimination in in schooling, employment, and criminal justice. This article provides recommendations for meaningful collection and interpretation of student data. Wearable fitness trackers in college sports have sparked concern over the rights of college athletes and how manufacturers plan to use this data. Hive Research Lab has released their first journal publication arguing that  informal learning organizations should include “practices that connect youth to events, programs, internships, individuals[,] and institutions related to their interests to support them beyond the implementation of a single program or event.” In this blog post Ben Williamson presents critical questions for big data in education – noting the possibility that the historical data that machine learning systems rely on can reproduce “economic, social[,] and cultural advantage of powerful groups.” Apple is offering a free app to teach children coding; however the fact that the app can only be used on the iPad raises questions about affordability and access. In light of increased attention to for-profit colleges that disproportionately impact low income students, this guide to college rankings  serves as a useful tool for making sense of data released by rankings systems. Prudence L. Carter, dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, urges education stakeholders to offset opportunity gaps in poor schools through equitable funding, better educators, and strong local, state, and national educational policies. Meryl Alper, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Northeastern University and Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, has an op-ed on the complex intersections of voice, agency, and technology reflected in Speechless, a new sitcom on ABC that “marks the first time a network show will feature a lead character who uses an augmentative and alternative communication system (or AAC, as speech-language pathologists call it) instead of oral speech to express themselves.”  


Digital Literacy

Born Digital: How Children Grow Up in a Digital Age  

On September 21, Urs Gasser, Executive Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School, and John Palfrey, Head of School at Phillips Academy, Andover and Faculty Director at the Berkman Klein Center, celebrated the release of the revised and expanded edition of their critically-acclaimed exploration of the digital lives of young people with a festive discussion at Harvard Law School. This “2.0” edition, Born Digital: How Children Grow Up in a Digital Age, incorporates the foundational analysis of their 2008 work, Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives. The new edition also builds upon recent research conducted by the Berkman Klein Center’s Youth and Media project, and includes insights from the Berkman Klein-UNICEF Digitally Connected network and many other collaborators from around the globe. At the celebration, colleagues from Berkman Klein, Phillips Academy, and other institutions shared reflections, questions, and thought challenges around how today’s young people inhabit their roles as learners, creators, and many other modes at a time when youth “only know a world that is digital.” (Born Digital: How Children Grow Up in a Digital Age at 5.)

Happenings: The Director of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education, Joseph South, says “if [he] could change one thing [about ed tech use nationwide], [he] would have schools help students use technology in active ways. [He] want[s] them to think of students as digital creators, not digital consumers.” The Digital Media and Learning Competition (DML) 6 announced the winners of the “Playlists for Learning Challenge,” which include “Digital Citizenship Learning Playlists” from the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.  A national  “‘credentials registry,’ an effort to create an open, searchable, online system that categorizes and organizes the current maze of credentials, certificates, degrees, and licenses that students and workers now obtain” had its first public demonstration earlier this week. “RISE High, a proposed Los Angeles charter high school designed to serve homeless and foster children,” received “$10 million in XQ: The Super School Project, a high school redesign competition funded by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs” to create a learning ecosystem of “three to four physical sites sharing space with existing nonprofits as well as an online learning system. A bus will also be turned into a ‘mobile resource center,’ to bring Wi-Fi, a washer/dryer and homework help to the neediest students.”