How to Protect Private Data in Online Learning

In the last several months, countries witnessed a mass transition to online education. The coronavirus pandemics caused mandatory school closures across the world, so educational institutions had to find other ways to address the issue.

Many were groping around in the darkness, specifically those forced to pioneer urgent changes in education. They had a lot to think through – How to adjust old learning strategies to the newly occurred needs? What other strategies should be created and how to introduce them? What tech innovations can assist e-learning and informational update? How to ensure that all students and teaching staff can access those apps from home? What to do with possible failures?

And there is the challenge of keeping confidential data safe. With the adoption of new learning strategies and tech innovations, the data privacy issue requires new ways of addressing it.

The increasing use of remote-learning apps is a matter of concern nowadays. Schools should give careful thought to this situation, as many tech services have received access to highly confidential information, they’ve never been exposed to before. Privacy protection must be the top priority for educational institutions.

What Data Privacy Posers Exist in E-Learning?

Paving the way to online studies, the educators are up against a huge challenge – to find the optimal ways to verify the safety level of apps and technologies that would be used for further online learning and interaction. They must correspond with the FERPA and COPPA rules, and educators are bound to make sure that they do.

However, there are far more privacy problems that go together with using different online innovations – especially outside the school brick and mortar. Quite often, teachers are simply unaware of them.

Take video conferences, for instance. They are highly important for remote education as they establish teacher-and-student interaction and communication. At the same time, they put student information privacy and safety in danger. In the case with some tools, educators may be unable to give guarantees that private information won’t be disclosed, stolen or sold. Hackers are another threat. There is always the risk that they may hijack a video call and share confidential information.

Another issue the educators must be serious about is the records and documents they bring home. Before they do, they should give honest answers to the following questions – How can they guarantee the safety and confidentiality of this personal information? Which data can be made public in the remote environment, and which can’t? Are they going to record lectures and in what way they can be shared?

How Can Schools Protect the Privacy of E-Learning Participants?

First and foremost, the schools should do their best to adapt the familiar tools and systems to the new digital demands to prevent compromising data privacy. Also, the experts in IT field should provide the solutions that can be used for online studies and learning-related interaction. Thus, they would ensure that teachers are equipped with reliable tools for teaching online and don’t have to use some random technologies they may find and download from the internet.

With the vast array of non-reliable services available online, it is of the essence to keep your eyes open and be picky about the privacy methods of the tech providers. For those still in search of the best learning applications and tools, schools should pay attention to the products that use reliable data encryption protocols and multi-factor user authentication. Also, they should outline how and when they collect and use personal information of the users, and how they conform with FERPA.

For instance, Google and Microsoft educational products and classrooms have strict privacy policies and strong security benefits. As a leading tech solutions provider, CDW Government can also facilitate schools in creating a privacy-secure distance learning environment and recommend a number of online learning tech solutions.

“As a case study writing service, we have to communicate with many researchers, college professors included. Some of them really like to spin a yarn about their students before they come to the point. Once, one of the experts shared a piece of private information. Of course, we terminated our cooperation. But I think schools should do something about it. Who knows where else he could tell this story,” reports May Marygold, a recruiting manager in a writing firm.

Leaders in education have to become serious about holding data privacy seminars and training. Teachers must know how they can quickly estimate if the application or platform will guarantee safe online interaction and information exchange. Additionally, teachers should be reminded that it’s their responsibility to keep a tight rein on the situation and ensure that no one can eavesdrop the sensitive data during online meetings with students and their parents. And definitely, they should remember their teaching ethics and keep personal student data private.

Online learning has opened a lot of data privacy vulnerabilities. Luckily, there is a number of steps that can help to secure important information and prevent privacy violations. Education leaders and teachers have to remember that a lot depends on their awareness and conscious activity.

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