December 01, 2016

11/30: Student Privacy, Equity, Digital Literacy Newsletter

Student Privacy, Equity,
and Digital Literacy Newsletter

Week Fifteen: November 30, 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
Should Sexual Orientation Be Excluded from Student Records?
A new Texas State bill gives parents the right to access all written student records, including information about their children’s physical and mental health. The bill states that educators must share “general knowledge” about the child with their parent as it relates to attendance records, test scores, grades, disciplinary records, counseling records, psychological records, admissions applications, health and immunization information, teacher & school counselor evaluations, & behavioral patterns, and other records relating to the child's well-being. Although the bill does not specifically state that information regarding sexual orientation must be disclosed, critics fear that the bill will force teachers to “out” LGBTQ students due to its provision that if an educator withholds general knowledge about a student from the parent, they may face disciplinary action. The author of the bill, Senator Konni Burton, has issued a statement that the bill is intended to strengthen the partnership between school employees and parents and that fears of students being outed are unfounded.
Happenings. This Washington Post article details areas of uncertainty in student data privacy in light of the presidential election. The California Student Privacy Alliance, which grew out of the work of the California Educational Technology Professionals Association (CETPA), is working to establish common data privacy standards that could be used for California school district contracts with vendors. The Center for Data Innovation hosted a discussion about how data can be used to transform the U.S. education system, highlighting the benefits of a data-driven approach and discussing potential challenges; a full video of the recording is located here. This article details the common types of evidence that edtech companies use to show efficacy. ISTE has announced the team of external ed tech experts that will be collaborating to create a new version of the ISTE Standards for Teachers. Parents petitioned a Massachusetts school district to revise its 5-year program of monitoring students’ heart rates to determine a PE grade. University campuses are turning from physical keys to smart cards to have more secure and convenient access to campus facilities.
Data & Equity
Social Media Surveillance
The Southern Poverty Law Center reports over 200 incidents of harassment and intimidation across the country since the election. These incidents raise particular concerns about safety for students as a number of hateful incidents have occurred in K-12 and college campuses. Increased attention to these incidences has revealed inefficient mechanisms for tracking hate crimes in the U.S. The Young Adult Library Services Association is developing tools and resources for supporting youth safety and improving respectful engagement. Members of Trump’s presidential transition team have indicated he may reduce the role of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in state and local policies. This could potentially impact action on school-discipline disparities and instances of discrimination in schools, transgender students’ rights, and more. Effort needs to be made to accurately and reliably track occurrences of hate-based interactions to understand how our political climate and other factors have impacted the number of hate crimes in the U.S.

Literacy Among Incarcerated Adults
The National Center for Educational Statistics has released the results of the US PIAAC Survey of Incarcerated Adults, which measures literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments. Over 50% of incarcerated adults lack basic numeracy skills, and nearly a third lack basic literacy skills. U.S. Department of Education Secretary John B. King expressed concern that a lack of education and vocational training programs in prison reduces future opportunities for prisoners once they have served their time and increases the likelihood of recidivism.

Happenings. A study of approximately 10,000 high-school sophomores, their parents, and teachers, reveals differences in how math and English teachers communicate with parents from different racial, ethnic, and immigrant backgrounds. Among the findings is that teachers are much more likely to reach out to black and Latino parents regarding behavioral problems than they are white ones. A new report from Data & Society Research Institute reveals that young adults under 30, especially young women, and LGBT individuals are much more likely to experience and witness online harassment, and suffer negative effects.
Digital Literacy
Youth and Fake or Biased News
recent study conducted by the Stanford History Education Group on evaluating information in the digital civic context made a startling find: “Overall, young people’s ability to reason about the information on the Internet can be summed up in one word: bleak.” As reported in the Wall Street Journal, the study found that across age groups, young people were largely unable to distinguish real news from sponsored content and false content. This deficit poses a great challenge to parents and educators as they try to prepare youth to be knowledgeable and civically engaged young adults. By the time kids turn 18, almost 90% of them regularly obtain news information from social media, where “echo chambers” may make separating real from fake news and discerning bias in news even more challenging. The WSJ article suggests that children and teens should learn the “basic skills used by professional fact-checkers,” such as evaluating sources’ reliability based on whether they are corroborated by other websites, and whether they are “named, independent, and well-informed or authoritative.” However, Berkman Klein Faculty Fellow Judith Donath argues that developing our personal fact-checking skills isn’t enough to promote fact-based civic discourse. In a CNN opinion piece, Dr. Donath explains that the allure of fake news stories online is difficult to combat because even fact checking “can be counterproductive” due to group dynamics such that “[w]hen a story that a community believes is proved fake by outsiders, belief in it becomes an article of faith, a litmus test of one’s adherence to that community’s idiosyncratic worldview.” Fake news seems to proliferate online due to users’ ignorance about sources’ veracity, such as the Stanford study described, as well as users’ disregard for veracity and willingness to share fake news to signal their membership in a community.
Happenings. Berkman Klein Fellow and Director of the Youth and Media team Sandra Cortesi delivered a keynote at the Mobile Media Day conference on November 14 that focused on providing a navigation aid for the youth and online news landscape. Berkman Klein Fellow and Youth and Media team member Andres Lombana-Bermudez published Hip-Hop Coding: Exploring the Connections Between Computational Thinking and Hip-Hop Culture, his reflections on the Hip-Hop and Scratch Coding Summit co-hosted by MIT Media Lab and Progressive Arts Alliance and supported by the UC Irvine's DML Research Hub and the Berkman Klein Center. Sonia Livingstone, Professor at the London School of Economics & Political Science, and Daniel Kardefelt-Winther, a consultant for the UNICEF Office of Research- Innocenti, presented the findings of the recently launched Global Kids Online project in a keynote speech at the ECREA pre-conference on Research of Children, Youth and Mediadiscussing the risks and opportunities, as well as the methodological challenges, related to researching children’s use of the Internet. EMINENT, an Expert Meeting in Education Networking organized by the European Schoolnet, was hosted in Prague and centered on the topic of digital citizenship. On November 15, the White House held a symposium on the topic of “Sustaining the Momentum for Innovation in Higher Education,” where participants reported concerns about the unknown effects on education policy from the incoming Presidential administration. Forbes reported that Google is closing the gap on Apple in the edtech market, with potentially important implications for future brand loyalty among the students who use their products. TeachUps are gaining a foothold amongst communities of teachers who are seeking to enhance their teaching with technology and connect with teachers across communities; TeachUps, sponsored by Edmodo, are “face-to-face get-togethers … usually hosted and organized by one teacher … [and serve] as a ‘mini classroom’ in which teachers can network, exchange ideas on best practices and also share resources.” The Future of Education Technology Conference—coming up on January 24-27, 2017, in Orlando, Florida—has opened for early bird registrationiKeepSafe, in partnership with CreativeFuture, has selected Ms. Melissa Englert's class as the winner of their nationwide competition to create content to promote digital citizenship; the winning video features "Timothy the Tech Guy, here to fix all of your tech problems, but not your life." HASTAC Scholars Derek Price and Kyle Romero launched a gaming podcast entitled, “Scholars at Play,” which focuses on video games and contextualizing them within a larger cultural framework.