October 25, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic forced students to abruptly shift from the classroom environment to an online mode of learning, and teachers scrambled to find creative solutions to deliver their course content in a virtual format. Months of school lockdowns sparked an explosion in the use of educational technologies, and many of the cloud-based tools, mobile applications, and online platforms that were initially viewed as temporary solutions are now firmly embedded in the student learning experience. The privacy implications of the widespread use of educational technology for students in grades K-12 has been discussed extensively by researchers, but the impact on students in higher education has not received much attention. Protocols for adopting educational technology in the K-12 environment are generally robust, but professors teaching in higher education are free to independently select course materials and electronic resources for their courses. Faculty members often require students to use free and easily downloadable educational technologies to complete class activities, effectively compelling students to accept the vendor’s policies concerning the usage of their personal information. The cumulative effect of ad hoc class-level decisions by faculty members in higher education increases the potential for violations of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 and can ultimately lead to the serious erosion of data privacy for college students. Faculty members, as front-line decision makers regarding data collection practices that affect students, can play a key role in improving privacy awareness among college students and strengthening privacy protections across higher education institutions.

Author: Patricia M. Sheridan, J.D.

PDF: https://ncjolt.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2022/10/Sheridan-Final.pdf

Volume 24, Issue 1