What Do Teachers Know About Student Privacy? Not Enough, Researchers Say

Nadia Tamez-Robledo at EdTech: “What should teachers be expected to know about student data privacy and ethics?

Considering so much of their jobs now revolve around student data, it’s a simple enough question—and one that researcher Ellen B. Mandinach and a colleague were tasked with answering. More specifically, they wanted to know what state guidelines had to say on the matter. Was that information included in codes of education ethics? Or perhaps in curriculum requirements for teacher training programs?

“The answer is, ‘Not really,’” says Mandinach, a senior research scientist at the nonprofit WestEd. “Very few state standards have anything about protecting privacy, or even much about data,” she says, aside from policies touching on FERPA or disposing of data properly.

While it seems to Mandinach that institutions have historically played hot potato over who is responsible for teaching educators about data privacy, the pandemic and its supercharged push to digital learning have brought new awareness to the issue.

The application of data ethics has real consequences for students, says Mandinach, like an Atlanta sixth grader who was accused of “Zoombombing” based on his computer’s IP address or the Dartmouth students who were exonerated from cheating accusations.

“There are many examples coming up as we’re in this uncharted territory, particularly as we’re virtual,” Mandinach says. “Our goal is to provide resources and awareness building to the education community and professional organization…so [these tools] can be broadly used to help better prepare educators, both current and future.”

This week, Mandinach and her partners at the Future of Privacy Forum released two training resources for K-12 teachers: the Student Privacy Primer and a guide to working through data ethics scenarios. The curriculum is based on their report examining how much data privacy and ethics preparation teachers receive while in college….(More)”.