What Happens to Student Data Privacy When Chinese Firms Acquire U.S. Edtech Companies?
Between the creation of a social rating system and street cameras with facial recognition capabilities, technology reports coming out of China have raised serious concerns for privacy advocates. These concerns are only heightened as Chinese investors turn their attention to the United States education technology space acquiring companies with millions of public school users.
A particularly notable deal this year centers on Edmodo, a cross between a social networking platform and a learning management system for schools that boasts having upwards of 90 million users. Net Dragon, a Chinese gaming company that is building a significant education division, bought Edmodo for a combination of cash and equity valued at $137.5 million earlier this month.
Edmodo began shifting to an advertising model last year, after years of struggling to generate revenue. This has left critics wondering why the Chinese firm chose to acquire Edmodo at such a price, some have gone as far as to call the move a data grab.
as data becomes a tool that governments such as Russia and China could use to influence voting systems or induce citizens into espionage, more legislators are turning their attention to the acquisitions of early-stage technology startups.
NetDragon officials, however, say they have no interest in these types of activities. Their main goal in acquiring United States edtech companies lies in building profitability, says Pep So, NetDragon’s Director of Corporate Development.
In 2015, the firm acquired the education technology platform, Promethean, a company that creates interactive displays for schools. NetDragon executives say that the Edmodo acquisition rounds out their education product portfolio—meaning the company will have tools for supporting multiple aspects of learning including; preparation, instructional delivery, homework, assignment grading, communication with parents students and teachers and a content marketplace.
NetDragon’s monetization plan for Edmodo focuses on building out content that gets sold via its platform. Similar to tools like TeachersPayTeachers, So hopes to see users putting up content on the platform’s marketplace, some free and others for a fee (including some virtual reality content), so that the community can buy, sell and review available educational tools.
As far as data privacy is concerned, So notes that NetDragon is still learning what it can and cannot do. He noted that the company will comply with Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a federal regulation created in order to protect the privacy of children online, but says that the rules and regulations surrounding the law are confusing for all actors involved.
Historically, Chinese companies have faced trust and branding issues when moving into the United States market, and the reverse is also true for U.S. companies seeking to expand overseas. Companies have also struggled to learn the rules, regulations and operational procedures in place in other countries.
more on data privacy in this IMS blog:
How Data Privacy Lessons in Alternative Reality Games Can Help Kids In Real Life
Ubiquitous social media platforms—including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram—have created a venue for people to share and connect with others. We use these services by clicking “I Agree” on Terms of Service screens, trading off some of our private and personal data for seemingly free services. While these services say data collection helps create a better user experience, that data is also potentially exploitable.
The news about how third parties obtain and use Facebook users’ data to wage political campaigns and the mounting evidence of election interference have shined a spotlight on just how secure our data is when we share online. Educating youth about data security can fall under the larger umbrella of digital citizenship, such as social media uses and misuses and learning how not to embarrass or endanger oneself while using the internet.
Darvasi’s students in Toronto can pool together 55 faux bitcoins to purchase and launch the BOTTING protocol against an opponent. The student targeted at Fallon’s school in Connecticut would then have 48 hours to record audio of 10 words of Darvasi’s students choosing and send it back to them through an intermediary (Darvasi or Fallon). For a higher price of 65 faux bitcoins, students can launch MORPHLING, which would give the opponent 48 hours to record a one-minute video explaining three ways to stay safe while using Facebook, while making their school mascot (or a close approximation of) appear in the video in some way during the entire minute.
more on digital citizenship in this IMS blog
Teachers Turn to Gaming for Online Privacy Lessons
By Dian Schaffhauser 10/10/18
Blind Protocol, an alternate reality game created by two high school English teachers to help students understand online privacy and data security. This form of gaming blends fact and fiction to immerse players in an interactive world that responds to their decisions and actions. In a recent article on KQED, Paul Darvasi and John Fallon described how they chose the gaming format to help their students gain a deeper look at how vulnerable their personal data is.
Darvasi, who blogs at “Ludic Learning,” and Fallon, who writes at “TheAlternativeClassroom,” are both immersed in the education gaming realm.
more on online privacy and data security
Libraries Look to Big Data to Measure Their Worth—And Better Help Students
counting how many times students use electronic library resources or visit in person, and comparing that to how well the students do in their classes and how likely they are to stay in school and earn a degree. And many library leaders are finding a strong correlation, meaning that students who consume more library materials tend to be more successful academically.
carefully tracking how library use compares to other metrics, and it has made changes as a result—like moving the tutoring center and the writing lab into the library. Those moves were designed not only to lure more people into the stacks, but to make seeking help more socially-acceptable for students who might have been hesitant.
a partnership between the library, which knows what electronic materials students use, and the technology office, which manages other campus data such as usage of the course-management system. The university is doing a study to see whether library usage there also equates to student success.
The issue of privacy also emerged during a session on libraries and data at the annual Educause conference earlier this month.
Chief Privacy Officers: The Unicorns of K-12 Education
Last month, the nonprofit Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) published a report arguing schools and districts should go the way of other industries and hire a Chief Privacy Officer to oversee their organization’s privacy policies and practices.
But the reality is that Chief Privacy Officers in K-12 education are about as common as unicorns.
Two years ago, Denver Public Schools created a new role, the Student Data Privacy Officer, after the Colorado legislature passed a law to promote student data privacy and transparency.
In Major Privacy Win, Supreme Court Rules Police Need Warrant To Track Your Cellphone
June 22, 201810:41 AM ET
Cellphone providers routinely keep location information for customers to help improve service. And until now, the prevailing legal theory was that if an individual voluntarily shares his information with a third party — for instance, by signing up for cellphone service — police can get that information without a search warrant.
On Friday, the Supreme Court blew a hole in that theory. Writing for the court majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said that cellphone location information is a “near perfect” tool for government surveillance, analogous to an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet.
While Friday’s decision may limit the government’s access to cellphone data, it has no impact on the ability of private companies to amass, use and sell their customers’ information. That is because the Fourth Amendment only limits government conduct, not private conduct. Only Congress, in enacting legislation, can limit how private companies amass and use information.
Aral Balkan: https://blog.stcloudstate.edu/lib290/2018/03/01/duckduckgo-privacy-free-service/
more on privacy and surveillance in this IMS blog
more on privacy in this IMS blog