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Privacy Education

NYT: Privacy Concerns For ClassDojo, Other Tracking Apps For Schoolchildren 66

theodp writes: The NY Times' Natasha Singer files a report on popular and controversial behavior tracking app ClassDojo, which teachers use to keep a running tally of each student's score, award virtual badges for obedience, and to communicate with parents about their child's progress. "I like it because you get rewarded for your good behavior — like a dog does when it gets a treat," was one third grader's testimonial. Some parents, teachers and privacy law scholars say ClassDojo (investors) — along with other unproven technologies that record sensitive information about students — is being adopted without sufficiently considering the ramifications for data privacy and fairness. "ClassDojo," writes Singer, "does not seek explicit parental consent for teachers to log detailed information about a child's conduct. Although the app's terms of service state that teachers who sign up guarantee that their schools have authorized them to do so, many teachers can download ClassDojo, and other free apps, without vetting by school supervisors. Neither the New York City nor Los Angeles school districts, for example, keep track of teachers independently using apps."

A high school teacher interviewed for the article confessed to having not read ClassDojo's policies on handling student data, saying: "I'm one of those people who, when the terms of service are 18 pages, I just click agree." And, if all this doesn't make you parents just a tad nervous, check out this response to the "Has anyone ran a data analysis on their CD data?" question posed to the Class Dojo Community: "I needed to analyze data in regards to a student being placed on ADHD medicine to see whether or not he made any improvements. I have also used it to determine any behavioral changes depending on if a student was with mom/dad for a custody review. I use dojo consistently, so I LOVE getting to use the data to evaluate and share with parents, or even administrators."
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NYT: Privacy Concerns For ClassDojo, Other Tracking Apps For Schoolchildren

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    well all k12 targeted "apps" and services *NEED* to have option to be completely SELF HOSTED by the school or district with NO DATA LEAKAGE to the vendor or other 3rd party. GOOGLE and APPLE, i'm talking to YOU TOO.

  • by Pollux ( 102520 ) <<ge.ten.atadet> <ta> <reteps>> on Tuesday November 18, 2014 @08:18PM (#48414105) Journal

    It's quite shallow. Another app harvesting data from schoolkids. Privacy policy is vague. Teachers don't care because it's useful. Parents try to care but don't really. There's really nothing new here that deepens the discussion about the continuing erosion of student privacy.

    Anyone really looking for a good read on that subject should turn back to the May Politico article [politico.com] highlighted earlier on Slashdot [slashdot.org]. Also interesting to note is how some companies are pledging [politico.com] to no longer mine student data, as well as companies that were notably absent from signing that pledge, including the one that promised to stop collecting student data last April [wsj.com].

  • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Tuesday November 18, 2014 @08:28PM (#48414145)
    This is the app we've been looking for.

    I envision a brave new world, where teachers can determine who is and who isn't going to be a success, and we can become an even better society

    Teachers will know who is or is not worth working with - not much differnet than before

    But now, Law enforcement will be able to access this valuable information so that they will be able to study, and keep an eye on children likely to be n'er do wells.

    Socially motivated groups will be able to profile and experiment. If you thought the self esteem movement was great, we might be able to successfully ingrain all male children to stop being misogynists.

    But most important of all, we'll be able to monetize this information for profit, as the merchandizers get access to this vital marketing information.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They already do. Through fast tracking, advanced classes, and if not those, simply grades. If they don't like a student, they fail him early on and it ruins his motivation.

      Now who do you think teachers will favor? Cute little Tina with her blonde hair and rich parents or little Latoya from the ghetto who just wants a place to be safe fr her abusive mother and absent father?

    • I envision a brave new world, where teachers can determine who is and who isn't going to be a success, and we can become an even better society

      You're being insufficiently imaginative. Try envisioning a world where when you apply for a job their hiring expert system reviews your entire school record. Remember that time you got in trouble in 2nd grade or your below average number of award badges, yeah that's going to cost you.

  • The quote "I like it because you get rewarded for your good behavior — like a dog does when it gets a treat" should be plenty to flag a really archaic approach to school that's going to work for some kids and poison the rest. The article mentions the criticism for the underlying theory as well. Teachers should be connecting with their kids. What's next? Food pellets for good behavior? Arf! Johnny's a good boy.

    • I know it may sound a bit crass the way it's worded, but positive and negative reinforcement are extremely powerful motivation methods for both animals and people.

      Reward charts are a long time proven method to keep kids motivated without using punishment. Punishment is also very useful, and like positive methods must be tailored for the recipient. Not all people respond the same to positive things, and punishment (or fear of it) is not always beneficially motivational.

      Things like ClassDojo are a convenient

  • Seems things are really going down the drain. Citizens are getting morphed into slaves, essentially.

    • by Sowelu ( 713889 )

      Come on, use a little context. These are third graders. This isn't obedience like "march with your right arm up", this is behaving basic rules like "don't run in class, don't talk over the teacher, put your phone away, turn in your work on time". Intelligently questioning authority is a real virtue, blind disobedience is not. We live in a country where high schoolers can barely find their own country on a map. Obeying instructions in class is something we could use more of.

      • by mishehu ( 712452 )
        This matter is completely subjective - even when there is an actual school policy about such things. I have dealt with teachers who would complain to me about my child not "marching with his right arm up when told to do so"... incidentally that was a teacher who was unable to command respect from my child, and likely others.
      • the real problem for me, is this seems like typical class room techniques that have been used for decades, perhaps centuries.

        Which is true

        The real implications of this system, is that while on an old paper, or mabey spreadsheet, or localzed version, the only people who had accesss to it where the teachers, perhaps shared with school administration in extreme cases. Teachers had no reason to save such performance data longer than it was useful, i.e. a school year.

        Now, you have a perminant record of how

  • How does this not violate COPPA (Children's Online Privacy Protection Act) when it comes to students under the age of 13? The law requires "...verifiable parental consent, with limited exceptions, prior to any collection, use, and/or disclosure of personal information from persons under age 13" Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]
  • IM-not-soHO as a school and clinical psychologist: 1) The third grader is insightfully correct, reward desired behavior just like a dog. Nothing wrong with that. My paycheck is a very good reward for doing what I am supposed to be doing. My job. It is not bribery unless I am getting rewarded to do something I should not be doing. 2) The teachers who are using this data, upon request, to help with ADHD medication monitoring and divorce data, are probably making a mistake. Due to social perceptual biases

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