Educational Technology Needs to Work out Privacy Kinks

We have been a part of the digital frontier for some time now and educational technology is enduring some of the same conversations that we are seeing in other tech industries.  Digital rights is a particularly interesting conversation that is being had on multiple levels from the large information companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter.  These same conversations are now becoming a part of the school conversation as well.  

In a study of 383 participants centered around Facebook and privacy issues it was determined that users that are aware that others have access to their data tend to engage in more strict privacy settings when compared to others without that same awareness (Child & Starcher, 2016) This concept has been talked about by other researchers and labeled perceived anonymity.  The idea being that if you feel like you are not being watched you tend to do things that you might not if you knew you were. 

The issues around education are very much around the nature of data being used by outside sources.  As students work they are completing tasks that could be utilized by tech giants to build more advanced machine learning for purposes that we might not fully understand.  In an article written to begin to address this growing concern thought was given to the fact that these implications no longer lie just with the technologist at the school, but teachers and administrators have a growing responsibility to understand and work with student data in a strategic way  (Amirault, 2019).  In this article it is proposed that this will be the next large educational debate, and that data collection, ownership and privacy issues have yet to be decided in the educational space.  While other technology debates have been studied and ideas are being refined, educational technology will now have to endure a new type of debate that will shape how information will be used for years to come.




Amirault, R. J. (2019). THE NEXT GREAT EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY DEBATE: Personal Data, Its Ownership, and Privacy. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 20(2), 55-70,73.

Child, J. T., & Starcher, S. C. (2016). Fuzzy Facebook privacy boundaries: Exploring mediated lurking, vague-booking, and Facebook privacy management. Computers in Human Behavior, 54, 483-490.