Protecting student data has quickly become the edtech cause celebre of 2014. The Gates-funded data warehouse inBloom was battered into submission last month. Google faces harsh criticism of crossing the “creepy line”—scanning student content using Google Ed apps that ultimately creates targeted advertising profiles. Legislation in several states is being considered and passed that contains breathless language about protecting our children’s futures via their zeros and ones.
I’m not buying it. Of course data security is important, which is why we have the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). And while I love a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, I have yet to read an actual instance where the theft of Johnny’s or Mary’s second grade math scores led to his or her ultimate demise. The politics of teacher assessment and the Common Core muddy this issue further so that Randi Weingarten and Michelle Marking start to sound like soul sisters when it comes to BIG BAD DATA. And when it comes to the “creepy” factor, I think we all need to get over it. For my children and their generation, it’s no big thing. That Google knows what they want to see before they do is a feature, not a bug or bogeyman.
This sort of resistance is part of the reason public education continues to struggle with its perception of being antiquated. Ultimately, it will be futile.
— Kevin Hogan