Student data privacy in the tech-enabled era is important. Laws like California's AB 1584, Connecticut's PA-189, and other state laws support this need, but create additional challenges for school districts. Our team works with dozens of districts across the country, and wanted to share some essential solutions to meet student data privacy needs while keeping costs low for schools and taxpayers.
Challenge 1: A growing litany of new laws require all product companies to agree to handle private student data in a way that does not compromise or expose identifying information that can be attributed to those individuals.
Workaround: In an attempt to mitigate risk, protect students, and meet and maintain compliance requirements in a rapidly changing environment accelerated by the pace of technology, districts have been spending hours combing through -- or paying third party consultants or attorneys exorbitant fees ($10,000 per product!) to comb through or renegotiate -- vendor terms and conditions.
Solution: Education organizations can require vendors that want to do business with your district apply and agree to your terms and conditions. LearnPlatform’s contract management functionality allows you to mandate and easily collect specific requirements aligned to your student privacy and security requirements, and procurement and renewal processes so you can efficiently, confidently and consistently manage edtech licenses and product company relationships. This also streamlines discovery and allows administrators to regain time spent fielding calls from sales reps - just point them to the system link to meet your requirements for consideration.
Challenge 2: Many new laws require districts to make the edtech products you're using in classrooms visible to parents. Keeping abreast of what’s being used is challenging enough without the additional step of documenting that information and sharing outside of the classroom, while trying to be prepared to field questions about product selection, usage and outcomes.
Workaround: Districts have been setting up spreadsheets, often managed by numerous contributors without a 360 degree view of everything being used in all of the schools, that has to be updated. These spreadsheets are added to the district website, in an attempt to be transparent and forthcoming with parents, but maintaining the sheet - or placement on the site - is not a primary responsibility for anyone.
Solution: LearnPlatform allows educators to manage and share an active, living list of products - including those approved, pending, reviewed and denied, and unknown. Your automatically generated, real-time product library reflects the current status and indicative of the standardized requirements - aligned to compliance, utilization, achievement, etc. designations - that those products met.
Challenge 3: New requirements and laws make it confusing for teachers and schools to know what edtech products they're allowed to use.
Workaround: In an attempt to use only approved products (and keep up with which those are), districts have come up with one of two “processes” for edtech selection:
- Developing software procurement rules that mandate teachers complete and submit forms to the district technology office when they want to use an edtech product, or
- Central office taking complete control of all software and limiting teachers from finding solutions on their own, or
- Don’t ask, don’t tell. Teachers do the best that they can with what they have, the best way they can figure out how to - there’s no formal process.
Solution: Teachers use the LearnPlatform request function to request edtech tools, request products be reviewed and/or request tools be added to the district’s product library - or consult the product library to access products that are approved, rejected or under consideration. Using LearnPlatform, teachers can also contribute their insights of tools and seek and share classroom experiences and impacts on achievement with their peers.