Align your school and district’s digital learning to regulations and best practices for keeping students safe.
Schools must ensure they are aligning to all federal, state, and local laws regarding student technology use and the collection of digital data. A number of federal regulations guide student privacy and security. These include the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). District and school leadership should familiarize themselves with these laws and share pertinent information with their staff in order to remain in compliance and confirm digital technology is used safely.
Accomplishing this requires a combination of technology systems and policies for appropriate behaviors, as well as age-appropriate lessons for students. Schools will want to have the following systems and practices in place:
- Compliance with Legal Regulations on Student Privacy
- Become familiar with district and school obligations regarding student privacy and security under federal, state, and local laws.
- Ensure district policies are in place and up to date to protect student privacy.
- Develop an approval process for all software and websites that are used by the school/district. The process should ensure these digital learning resources are age appropriate, aligned with pedagogical and curricular goals, and adhere to federal, state, and local privacy regulations.
- Provide teachers with information about approved software and websites and the process for getting new software and websites approved.
- Train teachers and staff on protecting student privacy and security.
- Give teachers and staff members only the required student information and data that is necessary to do their jobs.
- Filtering (Internet & Content)
- Implement internet content filtering to ensure students can only access appropriate content on school devices, both in and out of school.
- Vet and approve apps and websites that are age appropriate and do not collect personally identifiable information without granting permission.
- Mobile Device Management (MDM)
- Deploy a mobile device management system to efficiently provide updates and push system settings and apps to the devices.
- Manage access to the device and student data through user accounts.
- Policies for Safe Use
- Review and revise student and employee handbooks to include online learning requirements, expectations, and consequences.
- Train teachers and staff who may enter personally identifiable student information into school-approved systems.
- Curriculum for Teaching Digital Citizenship and Safe Technology Use
- Identify age-appropriate lessons that support all students with developing behaviors that keep them safe and out of trouble, maintains the privacy of their identity and information, and ensures a sense of digital citizenship.
- Acceptable Use Policies
- Review, revise, and/or create acceptable technology use policies for online instruction, particularly to support students using the device at home.
- Provide the Acceptable Use Policy in multiple languages for parents/guardians to sign prior to receiving the device, indicating understanding of acceptable use and program requirements.
Whenever students are in a digital learning environment, it is important to educate them about how to engage with technology in a safe and appropriate way. Digital citizenship lessons should start before students begin digital learning and continue on an ongoing basis, especially as students are introduced to new tools. To promote digital citizenship:
- Identify digital citizenship topics that are a priority for the district, school, and families. These might include browser plug-ins to limit online ads, the use of good passwords, and knowing how to interact online.
- Develop or Identify developmentally appropriate lessons and materials about digital citizenship, including training on how to appropriately use devices and the internet. These resources should differ based on students’ age and the digital learning resources they are using. The materials should also be reviewed and updated regularly.
- Develop a digital citizenship pledge for students and their families to agree to prior to receiving access to digital learning devices.
- Identify areas where digital citizenship can be embedded within the school curriculum throughout the school year.
- Provide opportunities to educate and support parents about the digital citizenship content their students are learning, how to manage devices to ensure privacy protections, and how to set clear expectations and boundaries when digital learning occurs at home, including the use of technology for non-learning purposes.
- Are school and district leaders familiar with all federal, state, and local laws around student privacy and prepared to educate teachers and other school personnel about these laws?
- Are all teachers and district personnel who will have access to student data aware of federal, state, and local laws for accessing and maintaining student data digitally?
- Have systems been created to determine continuing compliance with federal, state, and local privacy laws and to ensure that new software and websites comply?
- Have you identified or developed a curriculum for teaching digital citizenship that ensures students know how to act responsibly when using digital learning technology?
- Have you identified a content filtering solution to filter access to the internet?
- Have you developed an end-user agreement detailing acceptable use of technology and requirements of the digital learning program? Is it available to families in multiple languages, and do you have a record of all signatures?
Tools and Resources
Legal Regulations and Technology Systems for Student Privacy
- U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology: Building Technology Infrastructure for Learning (Section 5)
- U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology: Keeping Your Child Safe Learning Online
- U.S. Department of Education: FERPA and Virtual Learning
- U.S. Department of Education: FERPA 101: Online Training Module
- U.S. Department of Education: Protecting Student Privacy WHile Using Online Educational Services: Model Terms of Service
- Student Data Privacy Consortium: Resource Registry
- Student Privacy Compass: The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment FAQ
- Consortium for School Networking: Video Conferencing Tools in the Age of Remote Learning: Privacy Considerations for New Technologies
- Consortium for School Networking: Guidance on EdTech Safe Use in the Age of COVID-19
- Consortium for School Networking: Protecting Privacy in Connected Learning
- U.S. Department of Education: Protecting Student Data Privacy while Using Online Educational Services: Requirements and Best Practices
- Fairfax County Public Schools: Internet Content Filtering
- Digital Promise Verizon Innovative Learning: Best Practices for Mobile Device Management
- Securedge: What is Mobile Device Management and Why Do Schools Need It?
- Virginia Department of Education: Educational Technology Planning (Guidelines for Writing Acceptable Use Policies & Internet Safety)
- Tool: Securly
- Tool: Jamf Pro
Acceptable Use Policies
- Consortium for School Networking: Rethinking Acceptable Use Policies for Digital Learning
- U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology: Student Centered Acceptable Use Policy
- Common Sense Media: Everything You Need to Teach Digital Citizenship
- Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University: Digital Citizenship Resource Platform
- Digital Promise Verizon Innovative Learning: Digital Citizenship Resources
- International Society for Technology in Education: 9 Resources for Teaching Digital Citizenship