In an era when trust in government and private data collections is being called into question – and rightfully so – privacy-minded students and educators face a dilemma. Could obfuscation tactics offer a response?
I’d hazard that most anyone who has worked in the education and technology arena for any length of time has had to navigate conflict of interest issues. Leading a national non-profit in the field as I did, I faced perhaps more than a typical share. Two news stories this week have turned my attention (again) to the issue of conflict of interest in education, technology, and public policy.
The increasingly common practice of public school teachers affiliating with edtech companies deserves greater scrutiny. On social media many educators proudly tout their corporate affiliations as proof of their digital learning expertise, much like NASCAR drivers wear corporate patches on their uniforms. I don’t know where we should draw the line on conflict of interest policies here, but I am convinced it is past due time to revisit those policies for a digital age.
One interesting and potentially concerning trend that has emerged in compiling data for the K-12 Cyber Incident Map is that the number of schools and/or districts that have experienced multiple cyber incidents is increasing. This may be due to an increased reliance on technology for teaching, learning and school operations as compared to other districts and hence a greater exposure to cyber risks. It could be due to bad luck. Or, it could be a sign of a lack of expertise, resources, and/or attention to cyber security issues. To aid policymakers, researchers, administrators, and others in understanding this trend, I have decided to compile and begin to report more detailed information about these schools and districts.
I have been critical of the treatment of technology in both the 2015 and 2016 Education Next back-to-school polls for a variety of reasons. Credit where it is due: the 2017 EdNext Poll on School Reform expanded coverage of the topic and, while not perfect, is much improved. Here is what savvy readers should know about this year’s findings.