Mobile Applications Spreading at Schools

A mess rising from haphazardly spreading Apps

Teachers nationwide are being marketed with new digital learning tools like math and foreign language apps that record and analyse students’ online activities to personalize teachers’ lessons.

These novel adaptive learning products are creating headaches to students, teachers and school officers, notwithstanding the legal complications it is creating with the accompanying privacy and innate fabrication pitfalls.

On one hand chief technology officers are unable to track which companies are collecting students’ information and how they are using it. On another, others are experiencing data breaches finding students’ records posted online.

While free access to the best learning apps is a continuous preference, yet guarding against the potential pitfalls, data breaches, identity theft, unauthorized student profiling and teacher signing up practices is a hectic and legal endeavour.

As educational software and learning apps are piling billions, confronting their setbacks and challenges is treated differently.

At certain schools several hundred digital learning products are being reviewed by school directors before handling for use by teachers, while at other schools, start-ups are offering their basic products free to individual teachers.

Although adaptive learning products aim to tailor lessons to the individual abilities of each student, they trouble many school technology directors because teachers are typically not equipped to vet the data-handling practices of free educational apps that may collect details as diverse as students’ names, birth dates, profile photos, voice recordings, homework assignments, quiz scores or grades.

Added to that, certain educational apps lack the evidence that shows how they actually improve student learning around that particular objective.

Lack in fabrication and a breach in federal law concerning maintaining the confidentiality of student records and keeping control of those records even if administrators outsource certain school functions to vendors, are setbacks being revised by companies and law makers.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy acts and best-practice recommendations for contracts are being issued by government, while a free tool kit with data security questions for schools and a set of principles for responsible use of student data are being introduced by the department of education and a coalition of several dozen educational groups respectively, yet the bigger challenge remains that teachers were using so many different apps, sometimes trying them for no more than a week or even a day, and that it is impractical, if not impossible, for districts to track their use.