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Education Technology Has Come a Long Way During Pandemic, but More Work Required to Protect Privacy and Keep Students Safe

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Today, the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) released an update to their survey report from last fall on teacher and parent views toward education technology (edtech), data, and privacy. CDT’s research shows that support for continued online learning is strong, with 85 percent of teachers and 74 percent of parents supportive of online learning continuing as part of classroom instruction when students return to campus. The full report can be viewed here.

“As schools begin to reopen in-person around the country, our research suggests that schools are adapting, but work remains to address the privacy and accessibility pitfalls that limited educational opportunities for too many students during remote learning. We are encouraged by the progress being made by schools and districts across the country to address security and data privacy as online learning becomes an enduring legacy of the pandemic,” said CDT’s CEO Alexandra Reeve Givens. “CDT will continue our work to help ensure that technologies are used by schools in ways that meet families’ needs and keep students safe.”

CDT’s new report, titled “With Increased Edtech Comes Increased Responsibility,” provides updated polling data one year after the U.S. shut down and classrooms moved from the school building to the home overnight. In addition to support for continued technology use, teachers report growth in several key metrics for privacy preparedness, including a 10-percentage point increase in schools with a technology plan that addresses student privacy and security, an 11-point increase in schools providing guidance for technology use during COVID-19, and a seven-point increase in teachers reporting familiarity with their school’s student data privacy policies and procedures.

“Student privacy isn’t just a safety issue—it’s an equity concern as well,” said Elizabeth Laird, CDT’s Director of Equity in Civic Technology. “While our evidence suggests that schools have stepped up their efforts to close the digital divide as teachers report a 28 percent increase in schools providing devices to all of their students, rather than just some, it’s important for schools to have policies and training in place to protect the data and privacy of these students as they come online.”

Increased use of education technology also means increased security and data privacy risks, and districts and administrators must be ready to address security and data privacy concerns moving forward. Despite the increase in “Zoombombing” and cybersecurity attacks during the pandemic, CDT’s research revealed that three in four teachers have not been trained on keeping students safe from these online threats. The report details multiple actions that can be taken to protect students, like engaging parents in privacy protection and embedding data security in efforts to close the homework gap.

The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) is a non-profit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. that works to protect civil rights and civil liberties in the digital age. Founded in 1994, CDT promotes democratic values by championing policies, laws, and technical designs that empower people to use technology for good and insisting online platforms be transparent, accountable, and respect human rights. To learn more about student privacy, including more in-depth data and additional COVID-19 implications, visit cdt.org/area-of-focus/equity-in-civic-tech/.

SOURCE The Center for Democracy and Technology

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