Education Framework Blog

Focused on the Future of Education in America

Privacy Assessments Suck (...But They Don't Have To!)



If the title resonates with you, then it is likely that you have a role in ensuring the privacy and security of online technologies in the classroom. I’m also guessing that it’s a task that you secretly loathe.

Its okay, don’t feel bad. You’re not alone. Privacy assessments suck. They do. They really do.

They are long, painstaking and seemingly never ending. But they are necessary. 

And despite their ability to nearly bore us to tears, privacy assessments play an important and integral role in protecting student data. They hold the answers to the questions that we seek deep within their folds. 

It’s getting to that information that is the true challenge.

Privacy Assessments Take Time  

The process of assessing online technologies is not difficult, but it’s also not particularly easy. 

More than anything, it’s time-consuming. 

Conducting a thorough assessment of a single app or website can take upwards of 30 minutes or more. Multiply that by the hundreds or thousands of apps a school or district uses, and you have an unrealistically difficult and labor-intensive mission before you.

The current go-to method involves spending countless hours reading through privacy policies (end user license agreements, terms of service contracts, etc.) to determine whether they fit the safety and privacy standards of a state, school or district. 

Efforts like these demand time, time and more time. And that is one thing that educators and administrators are already running short of.

But the work doesn’t stop here. The assessment is only the beginning.

Privacy Assessments Require Ongoing Maintenance 

Once apps and websites have been approved for usage in the classroom, they need to be added to a school or district-wide approved usage list. Then, they must be continuously managed, monitored, and maintained to make sure nothing has changed since the original agreement. 

This task, alone, takes a considerable amount of time and resources. But  it is a particularly important step in the process because app and website providers have the right to change their terms of service at a moment’s notice. Not understanding and/or recognizing this could potentially put students and schools at risk.

Thorough privacy assessments tell us exactly what we need to know. They create a visual map of what is happening with the data. They hold the keys to the answers we seek regarding data collection, data integrity, data retention and data deletion. 

Privacy Assessments Bring Value

Love them or hate them, privacy assessments bring real value to schools and districts. When applied correctly, they provide clarity and understanding. 

Assessments are helpful in creating a big picture view of what’s really going on in the classroom. They provide insight and knowledge, and bring transparency to the decision-making process. This, in turn, is extremely useful in making school and district curriculum improvements.

Keeping data safe, secure and protected involves keeping a close eye on it – from the moment it is created, through its’ entire life cycle, until it is no longer needed and ultimately disposed. Knowing and understanding what is happening with the data is is your best bet at regulating and controlling it. 

Determining how to do this, especially when dealing with multiple vendors for varying lengths of time is another challenge that educators and administrators are having to address. 

So if privacy assessments are so important, how can we minimize the pain of conducting them?

Answer: the right tools.

Privacy Assessment Management Tools Help

The shift in technology usage in schools has prompted a change in the way schools operate. No longer is it just about finding the latest and greatest learning tools for use in the classroom, but understanding whether they are safe for use by students. 

But the process to determine this is neither simple nor efficient. 

That's why we exist. 

At Education Framework, we specialize in helping educators and administrators better manage their student privacy obligations. We develop solutions that provide insight, understanding and actionable data that, in turn, lead to safer technology purchasing decisions.

And best of all, we do the privacy assessments for you! Each and every one of them. So instead of focusing your time on reading endless terms of service agreements, you can shift your attention to improving the quality and safety of the online technologies used in your school or district. 

With our tools, you can conduct assessments in a fraction of the time, understand the safety and privacy of apps and websites, monitor policies for changes, share analytics with other education leaders on your team, and most importantly, make school and district-wide improvements based upon the information you have at the ready. 

Our Privacy Quality Scoring System helps educators and administrators know, at-a-glance, the safety and privacy of apps and websites, and then dig deeper to fully understand the reasoning behind the scores they were given. Our Policy Change Monitor lets you know if and when a privacy policy has changed, so you can act accordingly and ensure student data privacy is protected at all times. 

Tools like these are extremely helpful in proactively protecting student data. Designed to simplify and streamline the process, they bring efficiency, transparency and accountability to the conversation. They also save countless hours and resources.

Conclusion

Privacy assessments play an extremely important role in protecting student data, but they demand time, commitment and dedicated resources. When approached correctly, they provide answers that help educators and administrators make safer technology decisions. 

Those education leaders that take the time and conduct thorough privacy assessments have a greater, more comprehensive understanding of the health and safety of the online technologies used in their school, and are better positioned to make informed decisions about technology usage in the classroom.

Utilizing the right tools also helps... and will certainly make the process a whole lot easier, saving you both time and money!

So if you're looking to save yourself the hassle and eliminate the suck that goes with conducting endless privacy assessments, contact us...we're here to help!

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