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Student data privacy- iKeepSafe

How to be an Educator Steward of Student Data Privacy- advice from iKeepSafe


The Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe) certifies digital products as compliant with state and federal requirements for handling protected personal information. iKeepSafe help organizations achieve and maintain compliance through product assessments, monthly monitoring, annual training, and assistance with remediation.

Governors, First Spouses, and State Attorneys General from throughout the United States joined with law enforcement agencies, and child safety advocates in the formation of the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe) a national effort promoting the safe and healthy use of technology. iKeepSafe was founded by Jacalyn S. Leavitt, former First Lady of Utah, in 2005. Over the past decade, iKeepSafe has evolved into a leading organization trusted internationally by families, educators, and industry. In this guest blog, iKeepSafe provide advice on Student Data Privacy for educators.

Student data privacy concerns can create hurdles to expanding access to EdTech and digital innovations. Addressing those concerns and helping parents and others understand how student personal information is used – and protected – is essential. K-12 educators have a unique role in managing EdTech, student data, and privacy, and in building parent confidence in digital learning.

why do educators need to focus more on data privacy and security?

For decades, educators have been protecting student information, ensuring that it is used for educational purposes. Today, technology generates more information (e.g. geolocation data, IP address, unique identifiers, etc.) and provides more ways to share it. Therefore, when confidential student information (such as grades, medications, mental health issues, learning gaps, family custody) is digitized, it needs even stronger protections.

As leaders bringing technology into schools, you need to understand how new tools and platforms use student personal information. You need to know where data goes, and ensure that your vendors and partners have appropriate policies and protections in place. You teach students to be digital citizens – to understand and manage their digital footprints. You need to understand and manage your data footprints in the same way.

as an EdTech leader in your school, you’re an essential voice on these issues

You know technology can help students succeed. As a leading voice in your school community, you need to promote and model smart technology and privacy protection. Your ability to communicate and build trust with parents is essential to expanding innovation in classrooms. Communicating about EdTech and data privacy is a great way to engage parents – and to meet your obligation to notify them about their FERPA rights.

building your student privacy protection program

Crafting the right policies, procedures, and training will significantly reduce the risk of privacy mistakes that can hurt your students, your schools, and your community relationships. A strong privacy program helps you identify and reduce risks, and prepares you to respond when incidents occur

  • Get everyone involved. Think about all the educators in your school or district who should be on the team building your privacy policies and practices. Engaging people early builds support for the process – and the results.
  • Establish a privacy lead. The team is essential, but you need one point person at your school or district – a CTO, a CPO, an EdTech leader – prepared to respond to questions from colleagues, parents, or students.
  • Review what you’re already doing. Are there gaps to address? Have breaches or other problems occurred? Exploring previous incidents can help you establish a roadmap and build a comprehensive and coordinated approach.
  • Build best practices for managing vendors, apps, and devices.


When you choose third-party vendors and services that use student information, you need to make sure they understand your school’s legal obligations to protect and secure the data, and that they have appropriate policies and practices in place. Review how a vendor will use, store and protect information, and who will have access to information – at the company and at your school. Also, your school or district legal counsel should be involved in negotiating contracts with vendors.

There’s a growing push to require EdTech vendors and developers to get parent permission for using student information, and to explain clearly how the information will be used. (Some new state laws include these requirements.) It’s a good idea to find vendors, products, and apps that make clear how they will – and won’t – use student information. Look for products that have received iKeepSafe Privacy Assessments. But remember: Parents still see you and your school as primarily responsible for protecting student information and promoting data privacy.

Using more tablets and devices (school-owned or Bring-Your-Own-Device) in schools means you need to consider how they collect and use student information. Devices created for general use may not meet higher standards for protecting student information. You need to understand how tools can increase the risk of data breaches or other privacy problems.

use education as the keystone of your privacy program

Great policies and practices are essential, but education is the best way to strengthen every part of your privacy program. Teach students about protecting their own personal information and respecting the privacy of others. Social media and messaging apps are key places for students (and adults) to remember core tenets of digital literacy and citizenship, including respect for privacy and safety. You can find great digital literacy and citizenship resources from the Harvard University Berkman Center’s Digital Literacy Resource Platform and Impero Software and Digital Citizenship Institute’s whitepaper, “Digital Citizenship – A Holistic Primer”.

Educate parents about the strong privacy program you’ve built and about steps they can take to protect their kids’ information. Educators and families all want to advance learning and protect privacy, and as we expand the ways we use technology – in school, at home, and in between – we all share a role in balancing innovation and protection.

Want to know more about student data privacy? iKeepSafe now offers a FREE full curriculum for educators, administrators and school board members, “Data Privacy in Education – and iKeepSafe Training Course.” The curriculum can be used individually, or also included in the course is a facilitator guide that walks through using the course as a school wide professional development training. Download the curriculum here.

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