Education Framework Blog

Focused on the Future of Education in America

California Superintendents Tech for Schools Summit

Education Framework Inc. will be participating in the 2016 EdSurge California Superintendents Tech for Schools Summit
WHEN: Tuesday, July 26, 2016
7:30 am – 3:15 pm

WHERE: Computer History Museum
1401 N Shoreline Blvd.
Mountain View, CA 94043

The California Superintendents Summit is a state-wide event for senior education and IT administrators providing an inside track on emerging tech and trends. 

The focus of this particular event is on student data privacy (SOPIPA) and the Equity of Access with the new Williams Act Compliance, going digital and leaving no one behind, piloting products in schools and creating change around edtech.

Education Framework plans to share their student data privacy and parental consent solution, EdProtect, with interested attendees and discuss techniques that school and district leaders can use to simplify the student data privacy management process; saving time, money and increasing the safety and privacy of student data.

Interested in attending? Register here > (It's free for educators!) 

Bonus: There is also a welcome reception at Google the night before. 

WHERE: Google 
1345 Shorebird Way
Mountain View, CA 94043

WHEN: Monday, July 25, 2016
6:00 pm 

Hope to see you there!

Is Your School or District Really Protecting Student Data Privacy? Here’s How to Tell.

For all the talk about student privacy – what it is, how to protect it, why it matters – there’s one question that receives precious little attention: How do you quantify student privacy? How do you measure it? How do you know that you’re actually protecting student data, and you’re doing it “right”?


There are various answers to that question, some obviously more quantitative than others. But what it comes down to is being knowledgeable about the online technologies your students are using in the classroom, understanding how third party vendors are utilizing the data they have access to, and having the ability to communicate this information in a clear and concise manner - to parents, teachers, administrators, board members and policy makers, alike.


This process starts with understanding what online technologies your students are using and whether or not they are safely protecting student data privacy.


Keep Tabs on Technology Usage in Schools


Today’s students use hundreds of different apps, websites and programs in school, and while the potential for growth and development is tremendous, keeping track of all this information can be a mountainous load of work.


Understanding whether an app or website is safe for students first involves knowing what the third party vendor does with the data they collect, how they store it, whether or not they share it, and ultimately how they plan to dispose of it.


This type of review needs to happen for each and every online technology (app, website, program…) suggested for use in the classroom before it is ever approved for use by students. And once it has been determined that it is safe for use in the classroom, continual monitoring is necessary so you know if and when privacy policies change - which they can, and often do.


Yet despite this being the cornerstone to protecting student privacy, it’s often viewed as a burdensome task that nobody wants to do. But the fact remains that in order to properly protect student data, somebody has to commit to proactively protecting it, in an ongoing, full-time, administrative capacity.  


Understanding that and focusing on a few key factors can help any school or district get ahead.


Know Where You Stand


Properly assessing online technologies, continuously vetting third party vendors, and giving educators the tools they need to make informed technology decisions are all efforts that minimize the risk of inadvertently exposing student data to misuse or abuse.


And while conducting a comprehensive audit of technology usage is a solid first step towards understanding the health and vitality of your privacy initiatives, creating an ongoing list of the apps and websites used in the classroom, keeping track of the online technologies used by students, and regularly monitoring them for changes are all proactive efforts to will help to better protect student data privacy.


The next step is to conduct a thorough privacy assessment for each online learning technology to establish a general understanding of the individual safety, security and privacy of the apps and websites currently in use. Those apps and websites that meet the necessary requirements can be approved for usage in the classroom, while those that fail to meet state, federal or district privacy requirements should either be removed or further assessed before they are allowed to be used by students. But it's worth noting that in certain instances, technologies that fall short of certain mandates may still be used in the classroom, they just need to have signed parental consent in order to do so legally. 

Considering the importance of parental approval, it’s wise for schools and districts to have defined method in place to distribute, collect, store and retrieve information in an orderly and timely manner. Knowing precisely what data is being used, by whom and for what purpose enables you see the big picture, to take charge of your privacy initiatives, and to establish control when and where it is most needed.


Regularly Monitor Online Technology Usage


Keeping up with the demands of student privacy can be a lot for schools to take on. Understanding the safety and privacy of online technologies is often a full-time job, in and of itself. So it’s important to remember that protecting student data privacy is an ongoing effort that requires regular checks and balances. Because companies often alter their contracts after the fact - leaving student data exposed for misuse or abuse - remembering to regularly monitor policies for changes is an important part of properly protecting student data.


One option is to implement solutions that utilize automation to do much of the work for you. By automating the privacy process, schools and districts can observe, monitor and adjust accordingly, making improvements based on real-time actionable data. Through the use of student privacy analytic tools, educators are better positioned to understand the safety and security of their student privacy efforts and can quickly and easily plan for change based on the information available.

A bit less formally, but no less importantly, there are some key qualities that define a truly proactive student privacy initiative —and if you want to know what kind of progress you’re making when it comes to protecting student privacy, looking for these qualities can be a good beginning.

Here are some ways you can tell that your organization has achieved a healthy measure of privacy protection:

1. You have a clearly defined, year-round strategy in place. 

Start by asking yourself this question: Is student privacy something you push hard for a week or two a year, but keep on the back burner for the rest of the time? Or do you have a full-time privacy plan in place that helps direct your privacy initiatives and drive successful outcomes?

How regularly do you review third party vendor contracts to ensure they haven’t changed their terms of service agreements? Is it something you address every so often, once or twice a year, or possibly not at all? Or do you have a system in place that monitors third party vendor contracts for changes on a regular on-going basis, enabling you to know immediately if and when a change occurs?

Answering questions like these, establishing plans and procedures, and communicating what is going to parents reveals much about a school or districts’ intentions, priorities, and potential protection level.

2. You engage parents in the privacy conversation.

Is parental engagement part of your plan? Do you have a way to communicate what apps and websites are being used by their children in the classroom? Do you have a way to obtain parental consent, particularly for those schools and districts with students 13 and under? And do you have a method in place to quickly and easily retrieve information at a moment’s notice when requested by a parent?

Providing a method to engage parents in the privacy conversation helps keep them current with what is happening in the classroom and informed about their child’s technology usage while at school.

Transparency and accountability measures, such as these, go a long way towards eliminating unnecessary worries and building trust with parents and schools.

3. You have formal structures in place to check for privacy. 

Remember the student privacy analytic tools I mentioned above? Well, having a program in place that keeps track of all the apps and websites used by students is a sound way to better understand the technology usage in the classroom.

Knowing the privacy of online learning technologies used by students in schools offers an added level of safety and security, and provides an extraordinary level of insight into the effectiveness of your technology initiatives.  

4. You have a formal method to obtain parental consent. 

In addition to having access to a library of apps and websites safe for use, educators often need a way to obtain parental consent when using certain technologies in the classroom. Of course this, along with all the other items listed above can be done manually, but for those education leaders that really want to get ahead, deploying a paperless, digital solution is really the most efficient and effective way to go.

By eliminating the paper pushing processes of the past, schools and districts now have a safe and sustainable method to obtain, store and retrieve parental consent with the click of a button. While utilizing paper forms is an acceptable method, online, paperless options are far less wasteful and easier keep track of. 

5. You know why student privacy matters. 

A final consideration: Do you know why protecting student privacy is so important? Do you have a clearly defined plan in place to protect your students and your school that breaks down exactly what you’re trying to achieve?

Having a clear sense of goals and expectations is critical to achieving successful privacy outcomes. Understanding what you want to do, how you plan to do it, and who is going to help you along the way are all hallmarks of a solid student privacy plan.

Bottom Line

Whether you working towards improving your current system, or are just looking for ways to affect change, start by answering these kinds of questions to ensure you are on the right track.

Establish a plan, be knowledgeable about the online technologies your students are using in the classroom, understand how third party vendors are utilizing the data they have access to, and have a way to quickly and easily communicate this information to parents in a clear and concise manner. Following these steps will help your school or district get ahead when it comes to protecting student privacy.

Does your student privacy initiative have the hallmarks of success? As a student data privacy advocate, I know that this is a topic many education leaders are wrestling with. I hope you find this quick checklist to be helpful!

EdProtect by Education Framework [VIDEO]

At Education Framework, we specialize in developing student data privacy and paperless consent services for U.S. K-12 schools and districts. 

Because we believe that every student has a right to privacy while using online learning technologies in school.

We believe that school and district leaders need a safe and secure method to manage the privacy and parental consent process. And that parents have a right to know what technologies their children are using in the classroom.

Everything we do is with the intent of improving systems, simplifying processes, minimizing waste and most importantly, protecting students.

Because we believe in a simpler way.

At Education Framework, we develop 21st Century consent & student data privacy solutions that provide safety, security and peace-of-mind for parents, students, schools and districts alike. 

Our solutions provide knowledge and understanding to help educators make informed decisions about technology usage in the classroom.

EdProtect, an all-in-one student data privacy & paperless consent manager simplifies and streamlines the process from end-to-end, providing comprehensive safety and protection for schools and districts across the nation. It also helps you to better understand the health and safety of your student privacy initiatives.

EdProtect enables you to quickly and easily determine the safety of apps and websites used in your district. It allows you to track and monitor technology usage in the classroom, set parameters, establish privacy guidelines for your staff to follow, and communicate information in a clear and concise manner. 

EdProtect also helps you to track, organize and store responses in a systematic way. And it allows for easy recovery of information when requested. 

It eliminates wasteful paper permissions of the past, and it ensures schools are compliant with Federal regulations of the present, like COPPA & FERPA.

EdProtect rates, reviews, and assesses the safety and privacy of each and every app & website used in your school or district. And it continuously monitors privacy policies so you know immediately if and when a change occurs. 

EdProtect opens lines of communication between parents, teachers and administrators, and it provides transparency and accountability for schools looking to establish greater controls. 

EdProtect is really designed to do it all... for you!

It’s a student privacy manager and a communication tool, in one.

It engages parents. It empowers teachers. And it acts as a governance tool for administrators and IT leaders looking to establish guidelines that align with school & district privacy initiatives.

It’s an easy-to-use, ultra-secure and cost-effective solution that helps educators make informed decisions about technology usage in the classroom.

Through the use of privacy analytics, EdProtect offers a window into the health and vitality of your school or district's student privacy efforts.

It produces actionable data to make continuous improvements. 

It brings parents into the privacy conversation. It clearly communicates what apps and websites are being used by their children in the classroom. And it allows you to obtain consent when necessary.

EdProtect provides a level of control and understanding unparalleled to any other service of its kind on the market. 

One feature that makes it so great is the Privacy Quality Scoring System.

This 5-point rating system helps teachers and administrators know at-a-glance the safety and privacy of the apps and websites use in school. 

The scoring system provides a quick glance number rating, but it also provides a detailed description, so you know  EXACTLY why it scored the way it did.

All scoring is done internally by Education Framework staff, so you don’t have to think about reading the privacy policies for each and every app and website used in your school or district. 

EdProtect gives educators the knowledge they need to make informed decisions.

By utilizing this approach, schools and districts eliminate the risk of inadvertently adopting unsafe technologies in the classroom...and putting schools, districts and students in jeopardy. It also minimizes the bottleneck that often occurs when waiting for technology approvals.

EdProtect manages the process for you from start to finish. 

It is a streamlined and sustainable solution that saves time and money, not to mention countless headaches.

It provides safety, security and peace-of-mind when utilizing online technologies in schools, and helps educators, administrators and parents gain a better understanding of technology usage by students in schools. 

Please visit our website where you can learn more about our services. Read our blog (which you are, so thank you!). And sign up for a free live demo to see if EdProtect is right for you.


Education Framework Joins SchoolMessenger Ecosystem Partner Program

We are happy to announce that we have joined the SchoolMessenger Ecosystem Partner Program.

To support schools and districts as they select and deploy web-based education products and services, West Corporation, a leading provider of technology-enabled communication services, announced four new partners in their SchoolMessenger Ecosystem Program. Education Framework's student data privacy and parental consent solution, EdProtect was among the listed, along with Hero by HeroK12, Professional Learning Maps and EduVision by JDL Horizons. 

The Ecosystem is built into SchoolMessenger Passport, West’s Education group’s free single sign-on product for districts. Introduced in fall 2015, SchoolMessenger Passport allows districts to provide teachers, staff, parents and students with quick and secure access to online learning applications, open educational resources (OER), and a variety of school management and administration software programs using single sign-on (SSO). That means each individual only has to remember one user ID and password to log into multiple district-approved educational resources, including SchoolMessenger products.

Both the free standard and paid premium versions of Passport include a catalog of “product connectors” that enable SSO to popular web-based services. Through the SchoolMessenger Ecosystem Program, companies can highlight additional services they can provide, such as allowing schools to use one-click account provisioning tools within the Passport catalog.

Author's Note: We are thrilled by this opportunity because it enables schools and districts to quickly and easily utilize the paperless parental consent and automated student data privacy services that we provide. Think of EdProtect as a "plug-in"  that extends the communication functionality of SchoolMessenger. 

Student Privacy: A Parent’s Perspective

As Edtech software developers, we often look at student privacy from the perspective of our users–school districts, teachers, and state boards of education. However, it’s important to remember that every piece of data isn’t just a record or potential liability; it’s the information of a student that needs to be protected at all costs.

While most students are unaware of what’s at stake, parents are increasingly becoming concerned about student privacy issues and demanding solutions. Today we share the perspective of one such parent. Nick Reese is a father of four in Bend, Oregon, and was kind enough to share his thoughts on student privacy. Take it away, Nick:


As a parent in his late 30s, I straddle technology that didn’t exist for my parents when I was in school and will be commonplace by the time my kids are parents themselves. I’m far more comfortable with technology that my parents will ever be; my dad refuses to learn how to program phone numbers into his cell phone, instead continuing to carry a laminated card with important phone numbers in his wallet. And yet, I’m not digital native; my first exposure to the Internet was at university just as the dot-com boom was gaining steam. These days I feel more and more like my father every time I read about things like Tinder, Snapchat, Vines, Oculus Rift, Uber, smartwatches or the next new great thing: thanks, but I’ll stick to what I’m used to.

My kids, on the other hand, are full-on digital native. My fourth and third graders were issued iPads at school and put together Keynote presentations for fun. My first grader makes videos of himself playing video games and puts them on YouTube. My preschooler can’t read but works my iPhone like Steve Jobs, but with a greater affinity for goldfish crackers.

Of course, it’s not just me. Almost every industry is experiencing this same shift. Getting medical care, buying stocks, shopping for groceries, booking a flight, even renting a movie–everything has changed. Some industries are embracing or even leading the shift, while other industries are a bit more like me: supportive, but not leading the way.

The world of education is very much in this second bucket. For every innovation like iPads in the schools or using social media to engage parents there are still methods of doing business my parents would recognize, like endless permission slips, printed newsletters and paper forms. Unfortunately, the way schools handle digital privacy and security is still the product of the old way of thinking. In an era where even security-minded retailers and government agencies find themselves in the news for data breaches while software companies keep concocting new ways to package and sell user information, the way schools handle data privacy is almost laughable if it wasn’t so frightening.

Paper forms with sensitive information and signatures get transported by six-year-olds in backpacks to be stored… somewhere? While textbooks are vetted by boards of education, I have no idea what level of vetting each app gets, who is doing the vetting, what these apps are and what info they are collecting. I know there are laws about this, but who is enforcing them? Who pays when my kid’s social security number winds up all over the Internet? How much do for-profit companies know about my kids, and what do they plan on doing with that information?

These should be simple questions I shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get answered, or even have to ask. Luckily, companies like Education Framework and others are making it easier to help schools solve these problems while bringing parents into the loop. While I’m sure this is one of those growing pains of technology adoption that will be solved by the time my youngest child graduates, parents now shouldn’t have to let their kids be the test subjects. Parents, schools, software developers, teachers, industry groups and lawmakers need to get together now and make education a leader in privacy and data protection, not a follower.


Thanks, Nick!

At Education Framework, we believe now is the time to make a commitment to protecting student data. Learn more about how our tools make ensuring student privacy simple and sign up for a free demonstration today.  

Who is Responsible for Protecting Student Data?

In a perfect world, student data would belong solely to the student. In practice, the responsibility for student data is shared by anyone who has contact with that data, including teachers, administrators, IT departments, school districts, software developers and parents. As such, there are often competing philosophies for how much or how little student data is collected and shared. Today we are talking about how you can manage student data in a way that best satisfies parents, your school districts, and the law.

The first step, after understanding your requirements under state and federal law, is to create written policies and provide the resources required to support data protection. These policies should be crafted in a way that ensure front-line teachers and administrators are using the tools and processes necessary for optimal data protection. The Privacy Technical Assistance Center has created a checklist for developing school district privacy programs that should help you get started. In addition, a data governance team should be created, within the district, to recommend new policies and best practices related to data use, to collect feedback, and to conduct compliance audits. Perhaps the team’s greatest responsibility will be acting as an advocate for resources and investment into student privacy, such as training, technical assistance and data coaches.

Second, you should work with your local, state and federal government representatives to advocate for consistent policies and support across the state. By advocating for strong, consistent laws across school district lines based on transparency and accountability, schools and software makers will find it easier to be in compliance, reducing costs and ensuring stronger, more robust data protection for schools. Talk to legislators and policymakers about the importance of secure student data, and their role in ensuring consistent regulations across state lines. The more you can be part of the conversation, the more you can ensure new laws and policies are crafted with your concerns in mind.

Next, understand how your software and service providers use student data. Each app, website and program your students use is limited in how they can use the data they collect and manage. For example, they are prohibited by law from using or disclosing student data for commercial purposes like advertising without parental consent. However, with schools using hundreds of different apps and websites, it can be difficult to weed through countless Terms of Services documents to ensure compliance. Tools like EdProtect make it easy for teachers and administrators to review individual apps and websites, and know at-a-glance whether they comply with state and federal regulations. At the same time, schools are equally responsible for ensuring their contracts with vendors spell out specific requirements for student data privacy, such as stating the district retains ownership of all data, and that the service provider is prohibited from using data in any way they aren’t explicitly given permission for.

Finally, and most importantly, make sure you are constantly communicating your plans to others responsible for student data, with special attention given to parents. By engaging parents in an ongoing conversation about their student’s data, together you'll ensure that the data is safe and secure. Ways to engage parents include sharing lists of apps and websites their children use and posting the safety ratings of those apps and websites on an easy-to-access district website. Report any changes to privacy policies, and obtain parental approval when necessary. Doing so actively draws parents into the conversation and assures them that their child's data is a priority in your school district.

The responsibility for student data belongs to all of us. We help make it easier to do your part with tools that protect your students from data abuse and your district from costly fines and litigation. 

To learn how EdProtect makes your job easier, sign up for a free demonstration today.