There are three laws that govern what schools can do with students and technology. Most companies in the ed-tech sphere abide by these laws, but there are sometimes differences between free and paid versions that can be a liability for teachers. The three laws that we need to follow are:
1. COPPA: The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act prevents websites and online programs from being specifically marketed to those under 13 without parental consent. This law doesn't necessarily apply to programs that are marketed toward adults (ex. Zoom) Essentially, students who are under 13 cannot use programs that are not designated for their use.
2. CIPA: The Children's Internet Protection Act requires schools and districts to provide measures that help protect student safety online including education, filtering, and other measures. This is why YouTube has been blocked for elementary students and our internet filters are in place.
3 . FERPA: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects student privacy and bars the unauthorized release of student information. This can become an issue when sites are offered for free. Often, free apps make money through advertising revenue or data mining. When students are logged into a site, particularly one that is handling personal information, images, or other data, this data may be fair game for the site to mine and sell to third parties.
1. Do we have something that accomplishes this goal already? If we do, it is best to minimize both data risks, liability, and more practically, the number of sites students need to figure out and learn.
3. Who is the original intended end user? Companies that are oriented toward the education sector typically have specific polices that address each of the laws above and specify their adherence toward them in plain language (as required by COPPA). If the end user is intended as a corporate user, the policies may be harder to find or non-existent.