‘It’s a choice of your civil liberties or attending school’: Virtual learning has opened windows into students’ homes, and the privacy concerns go way beyond Zoom-bombing (GOOG, GOOGL, ZM)

online classes virtual learning student BARTLETT, ILLINOIS - MAY 01: Seven-year-old Hamza Haqqani, a 2nd grade student at Al-Huda Academy, uses a computer to participate in an E-learning class with his teacher and classmates while at his home on May 01, 2020 in Bartlett, Illinois. Al-Huda Academy, an Islam based private school that teaches pre-school through the 6th grade students, has had to adopt an E-learning program to finish the school year after all schools in the state were forced to cancel classes in an attempt to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Summary List Placement

The COVID-19 pandemic hit fast and hard this spring, and just as quickly, schools across the United States were forced to switch to virtual learning.

While Zoom classes and other online tools provided a valuable lifeline to keep students connected and provide some relief for parents, they also immediately sparked privacy concerns, like Zoom-bombing, unwitting data sharing, and creepy digital test proctoring.

“When schools were shut down in March when the pandemic and the lockdown started, I think we were in survival mode,” Cheri Kiesecker, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, told Business Insider.

“Unless school districts really had privacy on their radar ahead of time, it was: ‘How do we keep students connected?’ And, ‘we’ll worry about the privacy issues later,'” she said.

With the new school year in full swing, many schools still haven’t dealt with those issues. Now, they’re mutating in unexpected and even more serious ways.

Last month, Colorado school officials called the police on — and then suspended — a 12-year-old Black student after he showed a toy gun during his Zoom class. A Florida teacher also pleaded with parents to “have on proper clothing” and avoid “appearing with big joints” after she and other teachers in her district observed parents partially nude and using drugs and alcohol in the background of virtual lessons.

As more side effects arise, privacy and edtech experts are scrambling to help administrators, teachers, and parents keep students engaged and learning without completely clicking away their civil liberties.

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Redrawing the boundaries

“We’ve gone from the separation between home and school to a complete breakdown of the boundaries between the two without really training teachers or parents and guardians or students for what that means for their own privacy and learning,” Dr. Torrey Trust, an associate professor of learning technology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told Business Insider.

Trust said teachers were hardly given any advice on how to talk with students about setting up their space at home to ensure they aren’t accidentally sharing private information — details, she said, that could subject students to bullying or even require a teacher to report them to school administrators or even law enforcement.

“For many children, this can be uncomfortable. The inequities that exist in education are even more visible in this format,” Heather Johnson, an associate professor of science education at Vanderbilt University, told Business Insider.

Even though the distractions may look different through a computer screen, teachers still face fundamentally the same challenge of whether, when, and how to respond to incidents and still cover the material, according to Johnson.

“Sometimes, if you stop instruction to respond to it in the moment, it can make the situation worse. So, calling out a parent who’s drinking a beer is really calling out the student, which isn’t fair to the student who’s not engaging in the behavior,” she said, adding that while teachers should intervene if they’re concerned about a child’s safety, “it’s not the teacher’s responsibility, though, to manage the parent’s behavior.”

Situations like …read more

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Source:: Businessinsider – Life


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