As I watch many schools move their instruction online due to the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, there are many questions and concerns I have. There are the obvious ways that many school communities are not prepared for the switch, especially with such short notice. There are also obvious concerns with supporting students with IEPs and disabilities, as well as students who do not have access to the Internet or devices at home.
One of the not so obvious ways that this switch will challenge school communities lies in how schools consider specific laws that govern protection of student data and students privacy. I have also seen concerns posted by authors, publishers and librarians over the sharing of copyrighted materials through this mode of communication that is often new to many teachers. A number of librarians and educational institutions have release this statement regarding fair use during this difficult time. This part stands out to me:
We also encourage campuses to begin contemplating the longer-term needs this situation presents. While fair use is absolutely appropriate to support the heightened demands presented by this emergency, if time periods extend further, campuses will need to investigate and adopt solutions tailored for the long-term.
Some authors have been giving public permission for their works to be read aloud.
I have seen lists of tech tools posted widely, including this massive Google Spreadsheet. This list contains edtech companies offering their tools for free during the COVID-19 crisis. However, it is not clear how or if these tools have been vetted, and, since the owner of the sheet is now using a Google Form for submissions, that is even less clear. There is no clarity on how these companies collect student data or what they do with it unless educators take the time to carefully read their privacy policies.
These issues are not new, but this crisis is shining a light on some important underlying issues in education.
To support educators, schools, and districts with the vetting process for tools and how they protect students and families, I have created a “cheat sheet” of sorts. This information is adapted from my book, Digital and Media Literacy in the Age of the Internet: Practical Classroom Applications, that was released in October 2019.
The cheat sheet can be downloaded as a PDF or as two JPG files (below). They may be shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND) License.