Our Commitment to Student Privacy

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February 4th, 2014

In our last post, you heard from one of my colleagues, Elissa Seto. This month, I’ve invited Wolf Boehme, President of eScholar, to share his thoughts on the topic of student privacy.

Our Commitment to Student Privacy

Recently, Margo Day, the Vice President of US Education for Microsoft, wrote a post on TechNet about the need for an industry commitment to student privacy. As President of eScholar, a firm that has worked closely with school districts and state education agencies on putting data to work for school and student improvement, I wholeheartedly agree that the industry needs to address this issue.

The ethical use of data is absolutely paramount for the protection of citizen privacy, and the use of data in education is no exception. If a vendor has access to student data, that data should never be used for advertising and marketing purposes. As a vendor and leader in this industry, eScholar has a firm commitment to our customers and stakeholders, including students, parents, and teachers, not to use the data for any purpose other than to meet our contractual obligations to our customers and in no case for advertising or marketing purposes. We have had the privilege of working with educators for over 17 years, and the trust we have established with our customers over that time is extremely important to us and something that we work hard to maintain every day.

As the education technology field grows, we also concur with Ms. Day that there needs to be a uniform commitment among all vendors in education with regard to their role as “stewards of education data.” Though numerous vendors have taken meaningful steps in this area, the work isn’t done, and the conversation with stakeholders has only begun.

Ms. Day’s call for industry-wide discussions regarding student privacy is a needed and welcome one. However, the discussion shouldn’t be limited to vendors in education; we must engage all education stakeholders – including students and their parents. eScholar will seek to host one of these conversations at the 2014 NCES Summer Data Conference in Washington DC. We know many of our colleagues and education leaders attend this event, and invite everyone to join us in this important discussion. As the conference approaches, we will publish more details about the event.

If any of our readers have specific topics they would like to discuss, or see discussed, at this meeting, I encourage you to post in the comments section below.

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