Education

Teachers Need Help With Protecting Student Privacy Amid Explosion of Tech Use

By Alyson Klein — October 22, 2020 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Education technology has never been more important than in the 2020-21 school year, with millions of students learning partially, or entirely, online. But parents, students, and teachers need more training and support on the privacy issues that go along with the explosion in tech, according to a report released Thursday by the Center for Democracy and Technology, a non-profit organization.

For instance, nearly half of teachers who participated in the survey have received no training at all on student privacy, beyond simply signing a form. And while 65 percent of teachers say they are using video-conferencing technology, just 19 percent say they have received training on those platforms. That’s despite problems with things like hacked video conferences (aka “Zoombombing”) or teachers accidentally exposing grades and class schedules when they share their screen with a class.

What’s more, more than half of teachers—53 percent—said they had discussed privacy with their students. But many students say their teachers never talked about the issue with them. That might mean that, “even though teachers may have believed they are having [these conversations], they have not absorbed,” said Elizabeth Laird, a senior fellow at CDT on a webinar sponsored by the Education Writers Association.

Parents are more likely to be concerned about student privacy than teachers, with 62 percent of parents saying it’s an issue, and just 44 percent of teachers. And one in three parents say their concerns about privacy have been heightened since the start of the pandemic.

Most parents—70 percent—trust schools to handle their child’s personal information. But more than half say they, not the school, are most responsible for safeguarding their kid’s data. Only roughly 40 percent of parents said their school has explained how it protects student information.

“Parents don’t know what they don’t know,” Laird said.

Male parents and those with higher incomes are more likely to worry about privacy than others, the survey found.

What’s more, parents are more likely to become more concerned about student privacy when they have gotten more information about the issues, she explained.

Teachers who work with students in special education are more likely to have a firm understanding of privacy issues. That’s partly because those teachers deal with more student information than most other educators, including Individualized Education Plans, or IEPs, Laird said. And teachers at schools that have a specific technology plan reported getting more training than those at schools that didn’t have one.

The surveys and focus groups highlighted in the report were conducted by Edge Research in May-August 2020. The parent survey included a representative sample of more than 1,200 parents. The teacher survey included more than 1,000 K-12 educators.

Image: Getty

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP