Surveillance software is commonly used by schools to meet legal requirements and keep students safe. According to the research, 70 percent of teachers use surveillance software to monitor student behavior, 47 percent use it for self-harm intervention, and 45 percent use it to prevent violence. While the tools can be helpful, they can also hurt minority students.
Students who are aware that their online activity is being monitored are less likely to be open and honest about their thoughts. They are also more cautious about what they search for. This can discourage vulnerable groups from seeking services. Furthermore, it can erode the self-confidence of young adults. This type of surveillance can also impact students’ ability to act, utilize analytical reasoning, and exercise their rights.
Although privacy is an important issue in the United States, many parents are concerned about the potential for their children’s privacy to be compromised. These parents are especially concerned about their children’s personally identifiable information, such as first/last names, birth dates, student IDs, and address. Therefore, parents are urging schools to stop requiring students to use tools that collect this information without parental consent. This type of surveillance could potentially involve processing student data for internal use, advertising, and market research.
In the United States, many students now use school-issued devices. However, the use of such devices has increased dramatically since the Ebola pandemic. Moreover, the percentage of teachers reporting school-issued devices has doubled from 43% before to 86% during the pandemic. This means that students are more vulnerable to cyber attacks, which would enable cybercriminals to track and monitor their personal information.
With the introduction of live-view software, teachers can monitor their students’ screens remotely. This way, they can decide when students should work on their laptops and when they should focus on listening and doing other activities. Additionally, this technology can be used by administrators who need to supervise students’ behavior. There are two main ways in which laptop surveillance software is effective.
One way in which librarians can influence the adoption of new ed tech tools is to serve as advocates for privacy. They should be involved in discussions about the new technologies in schools and school districts. Moreover, their experience and training to allow them to approach contract decisions and vendor relations in a way that protects students’ privacy.
Laptop surveillance in education must be legal, and schools and districts should ask students and parents to provide written consent before they implement such technology. Parents should also be notified about the use of their data for non-educational purposes. Oftentimes, a vendor will disclose student information to its partners and third parties. The vendor should clearly state its policies and conditions for such disclosure. If possible, vendors should also include additional privacy provisions in their contracts.
The EFF has focused its efforts on ed tech companies and schools. The EFF found that when schools use this technology, their privacy policies change. As a result, it’s not easy for parents to know whether the tech company is legitimately protecting their children’s data. The organization also recommends improving communication between schools and parents.
Check our academic programs here.