• Privacy

Why Students Need to Protect Their Privacy When Using Educational Technology: Tools and Tips


Haley Osborne

Progress and the introduction of digital technologies in any sphere of human activity have strengths and weaknesses. So we will talk about education, then we are talking about the positive impact of using third-party applications and resources on student engagement and academic performance, and the danger of confidential information leakage. How to make work with the necessary and popular today EdTech tools safe, who should be involved in the process of creating a reliable environment, and what methods to use, we will deal with these issues today.

The problem of protecting confidential data in educational technologies

The problem, first of all, lies in ourselves. Have you ever wondered how many people read the terms of a data processing agreement before checking the box next to it? A study was conducted that showed that as many as 36% of those surveyed never read a company’s privacy policy, and this is the number one issue that needs to be addressed in cybersecurity education.

Another problem for students, teachers, parents, and administration is dozens of used and unused applications that are tied to work accounts. If you do at least a superficial study, you will find that at all levels, from school administrators to students, work accounts are tied to dating sites, travel apps, etc. That is, they open the doors through which you can get to important and confidential information intended only for business purposes.

And of course, the purchase and implementation of insufficiently tested, protected, and certified digital products. Today, services for the education segment, both for administration and direct use in classrooms, are a multi-billion dollar market with huge competition.

When choosing components of a security system, such as classroom security cameras, or products for their school and program, administrators and teachers must pay great attention to how the product protects users’ sensitive data. Especially you need to be careful with trial and test free versions, which still require registration and linking to an account. Such a “Trojan horse” can contain any filling, from banal poor protection to malware that can open the way to all the data stored in the account.

Therefore, both students and teachers should give preference to exclusively safe educational services. Studocu educational platform will help you avoid a lot of data security issues.

In fact, there are many more problems, they can be global, typical for the entire education industry, or local, arising in a particular region, users of a particular product, or in one school. But to know how to avoid confidential data leakage, in any case, you need to know how to protect yourself and your students, teachers, and parents as much as possible.

6 Tips for Protecting Student Data

The first step that must be taken to ensure the safe use of EdTech tools is to understand that there is a problem. And that this is a global problem that poses a real threat. Stolen data can be used for a variety of purposes, from advertising to criminal offenses. Only by realizing the depth of the problem and the consequences of a careless attitude toward it, one can begin to act seriously.

1. Review all the tools you have used or are using

During the pandemic, many educational platforms have made their services free or shareware. In an effort to give their students as many learning opportunities and more convenient tools as possible, school administrators and teachers have tried many of them. They manually entered the data of students, not fully realizing how much this data would be protected.

Now you have stopped using these services, choose a few of the most suitable ones. Perhaps they were even transferred on a paid basis, but this does not mean that the data that has already been entered is lost or protected. Be sure to make sure your information is secure.

2. Don’t take it all on yourself

The safety of these children is the task of all adults who enter the zone of education of this child. It’s nice to know that after the pandemic when many parents were at home with their children, took part in their studies, and were interested in educational services and tools, they became more attentive to data security.

Parents began to pay attention to what information and where their child contributes. Particularly attentive and responsible called teachers and asked how secure the information that my child enters into a particular application used at school is.

I would like to emphasize this point separately, cybersecurity and the protection of student data are the responsibility of not only schools but also families. Therefore, parents need to know which applications their children use at school and which ones they use outside of school. How reliable and safe are these products?

3. Be aware of the privacy policies of your digital education providers

If you decide to use the tool for the first time, be sure to contact the supplier. Read its privacy policy. For any doubtful or not entirely clear point, ask for an explanation. If you have doubts about the reliability of protection and safety, it is better not to use the product. There are thousands of companies on the market today, and you will definitely find a reliable analog or similar service.

Watch for changes to the privacy policy of companies that already supply you with such a product. Let’s take an example. Schools in one small town all used one popular service for their educational process. On the same day, all responsible persons of these schools received a letter notifying them that there were changes in the privacy policy of the company and the product, so they need to give your agreement on a new one. All the responsible persons of all the schools did this without much trial, and only one teacher decided to ask what exactly had changed in politics.

He learned that the company can now track where children are by geolocation. Please note that we are talking about minors. The teacher raised this issue at his school, the principal tried to negotiate with companies to remove tracks from the app. As a result, the school refused to cooperate with this supplier. But other schools also did not stand aside, since this update did not suit very many. As a result, after customers massively began to refuse to work with an application that tracks the location of children, this item was removed.

4. Create an Application Verification Protocol

For these purposes, it will not be superfluous to use some useful tools. For example, you can start by checking the accounts of all students and school employees using ManagedMethods to get an idea of how they use data, what applications they use, and how much they follow data protection rules.

You can also involve your IT department in developing a protocol for working with new applications and periodically checking working tools for data security.

5. Develop a plan in case of information leakage

You don’t want to think that such a problem may arise for you, so when this happens, everyone is not ready and does not know what to do. First of all, you need to make it clear to parents and students that such a situation has occurred. This can be done via email or SMS, on behalf of the administration of the educational institution or a special IT department.

Also, cybersecurity specialists can help you develop an algorithm of action in such cases. For example, students must register with a data theft protection service. It is advisable to introduce this algorithm to students and parents before the trouble has already happened so that after a leak or misuse, each of them knows what to do.

6. Be sure to have conversations with students and their parents about the rules of behavior on the Internet

For example, you need to talk about the fact that the browser search history needs to be cleaned regularly, and use special tools. You need to minimize your footprint on the Internet and prevent attackers from getting as much information about you as possible.

Be sure to explain to students and teachers what the rules of behavior in social networks are. You should not upload photos of the entire class to teachers on a personal page, or it is advisable to “blur” the faces of children using simple and free tools. You should not attach photos that show the names of your streets of residence, the route to and from school, and the addresses of the sections where you visit. Do not turn on geolocation and give the opportunity to strangers to determine their location.

Safety is the concern of each individual and all together. If we are all careful and responsible, then no one will be able to misuse our data and even just get it.

Haley Osborne is an active freelance writer. She is interested in management, web design, and writing. Regularly touches on the topics of self-development and modern trends. Her goal is to provide quality and inspiring content.