Monday, March 13, 2017

Technology may be too good to be true!

I have been concerned about the degree of 'Due Diligence' being carried out by schools since teachers started developing their own programs using amazing online resources such as Google classroom, Edmodo and OneNote Classroom.  I worry that much of the fine print on educational sites and in apps is ignored as they are such fantastic resources.  

Is the responsibility for ensuring the suitability of sites and apps is purely left at the teachers discretion? There is a huge potential for problems with inappropriate management of student information and activity if that’s the approach schools are taking.  

I’ve worked with a school Integration Team to create a process ensuring the School approves of the educational resources for teachers to use.  This should be seen as vital in all schools to ensure acknowledgment of the risk web and app based activities could present for teachers and students in particular.  

The process decided on means the school, through the Integration Team, takes responsibility for assessing and documenting appropriate education resources for teachers to use in their classrooms. The first stage is making sure any teaching resource provides an educational value which is not being met by other systems already in use.  The system is then assessed to ensure the technical, legal and ethical values of the School are met before any educational resource can be used in the classroom.  This standard is then applied to any service or system which requires a student identifies themselves.

When we started developing the standard it quickly became apparent this was going to be a significant undertaking.  As soon as we started looking at the fine print in those user agreements, which sometimes were very long and not necessarily written in easy to understand English, it became obvious that this was something which was badly needed.

The most important part of this procedure was defining responsibility for assessing all of the important decisions ensured teachers didn't have to assume someone else had looked at it.  I feel sometimes the assumption that all apps and web sites are compliant with Australian privacy legislation is a very dangerous starting point.  

It seems to me that all schools and governing bodies need to take far more responsibility for the implications of technology programs.  The online services and apps deemed as appropriate for teaching and learning need to be better understood before schools push them to student devices or send student there as part of their learning.