The digital footprint of online students

Health & Education

As more and more students participate in online education, the digital footprint of those students is getting bigger. 

An article from Education technology states that, according to OfCom’s recent report into the digital habits of children in the UK, nine out of ten of them are active online – at home, gaming or on social media and, increasingly, in the classroom as part of formal learning; at some point, kids are online everyday.

What does that mean for the big tech companies that collect all that valuable data?  The article explains further:

Data Overload

  • The pandemic has been a huge catalyst for edtech, with more than two-thirds of children accessing real-time interactive online learning, as well as using other digital educational resources, shuffling it to the top of schools’ priority lists and agendas.
  • Many schools scrambled to implement solutions, and the ever-shifting nature of the pandemic meant some were left with no choice but to fast-track the process, and sometimes in the rush overlooking the need for evidence bases before selecting tools. 

Using Technology

  • How classes use the technology platforms available to them is vital. Best case scenario is as an extension of classroom learning.
  • Classroom tech is really coming into its own as an aide to early learners with special educational needs. It is easier for a child who has limited hand use to swipe a screen than pick up and place a puzzle piece, for example. For children with high learning needs, technology gives then experiences of cause and effect play.
  • Technology can play a key role in reducing the discrepancy between high-achieving children and lower achieving children in schools by speeding up the data processing that indicates when a child needs additional support and what sort of support they need.
  • Data empowers educators to identify learning gaps and track academic progress, allowing them to adapt their pedagogical approach strategically.  

The legality behind it

  • Right now, there is not much data protecting students from their digital footprint.
  • The data may well be created by the student, but the student isn’t mature enough to properly consider all the consequences.
  • Data gathered by education technology companies is anonymised; it builds information about the abilities and performance of students across regions and age demographics, and what features and modules are working – or failing – when it comes to engaging students. 

The article concludes that schools need to be more aware of the technology companies that provide their services, and parents need to be more involved with the terms and policies of what their children use.

In the information age where we have repeatedly seen tech companies sell our data, it is important that for those too young to understand the consequences to be shielded from them.

If you are an education technology company, what is your data policy? Polestar would be excited to engage.

… the pandemic has been a huge catalyst for edtech, with more than two-thirds of children accessing real-time interactive online learning – Al Kingsley

By Anusheh Khan on 23/02/2022