Student Privacy Is Still a Cornerstone Right

An Amazing Thing Happened on the Way to 21st Century Audience Response

Along with the rapid growth of e-learning, there is an acceleration into Web 2.0 tools, which by definition, allow for collaboration and interaction. The passive nature of websites is fading quickly as cloud-based technologies proliferate in and out of the classroom.  Instructional innovation is occurring at an astounding rate as low cost solutions create autonomy.  Shrinking budgets and the torrid growth of online instruction further accelerate the use of cloud-based tools.

But, is this a good idea?   What about student privacy?

In 1974, FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) was passed and was enforced through sound physical controls as files were managed and stored in the registrar’s office.  Today’s digital environment has obliterated this walled garden leaving instructors and the institutional stakeholders with the job of interpreting a 37-year-old law.  Most higher education attorney’s have interpreted FERPA’s definition of “student education record” to include all works and communication between the student and instructor.  This opens the door to a number of valid questions around privacy?

Does having personally identifiable student data on a laptop, tablet, and thumb drive of tens of thousands of instructors violate FERPA? What about cloud based word processors with spreadsheets  now being utilized by  over a 1/3 of higher education instructors?  Increasingly, instructors are using social networking sites, micro blogs, video sharing, virtual worlds, calendars, and NOW web based audience response.  What about these transformational technologies?

Is this toothpaste going to be shoved back into the tube? We think not.

We believe there is a responsible approach for all stakeholders that can be taken to ensure student privacy while allowing for the growth of numerous and effective pedagogical tools.  In fact, cloud based systems, properly structured; allow for more structured and layered approach to student data and security than the current unintentional, but nonetheless, prevalent laissez-faire approach to student data.

At Via Response Technologies, we have considered student privacy as a cornerstone of our architecture and design.  It is prudent and a fundamental right to digital citizens.  In fact, we set out from the beginning to consider privacy and data security and had a recognized law firm with a specialty in SAAS and security review our architecture and provide an opinion letter on our security practices and measures.  And that is just the beginning.  We continue to deploy and build layers of practical security to mitigate risk for everyone.   In the end, it is a shared partnership between instructors, institutions, partners, and students to keep students data private. It is the right and legal thing to do.

Via Response give educators control over their content delivery, command over their student attention, and insight into the impact of their message.  A centralized database with solid access controls provides better security and flexibility at the same time.  With multiple patents pending, we are working with educators and technologists to introduce innovative simplicity into the classroom.

We welcome suggestions as we continue to structure the response platform to engage your students anywhere at any time.

Derrick Meer

COO Via Response Technologies, LLC

About viaresponse

Via Response Technologies provides an easy to use, cloud-based, mobile application that connects students with teachers. The platform blends response technology with social media, cloud computing and mobile devices, creating possibilities for dynamic class activities that help to maintain a constant connection between the student, teacher and educational content all while simplifying the instructor’s work load.
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