I recently burst into a workroom at school full of excitement and enthusiasm for the new 1:1 Chromebook rollout our board is doing; every student in our school will have a Chromebook at their disposal, giving them access to the information and tools available to find, create, and share in our lessons. No more booking computer labs or shuffling around bulky laptop carts! Less paper!
Boy was my bubble burst quickly.
Since I don't have permission to share this story, I'll leave the details vague. The complaints started with "yeah they will never bring them to class", "they will lose them or sell them", and "the kids will destroy them." I mentioned how other boards saw a very low percentage of these issues in similar rollouts, and this never made a difference for some folks. The big one, was "these devices use the cloud and internet, and the data will be stolen and we will be sued." This argument was used by one teacher in particular who I thought would have seen the new Chromebook initiative as a positive development, as he uses similar technology every day in his current practice.
True, cloud services rely on an element of 'trust' in the provider. The data sits on a remote server, often in a remote jurisdiction. Google has their data centre's located in the following locations:
While these are reputable locations in countries that follow the 'rule of law,' relinquishing control of information can indeed be an issue, especially for teachers who are used to being the 'king of their classroom.'
There are valid concerns about student data in the cloud. These include:
- foreign government collection and use of data
- company use of data for profit
But I got to thinking...what is really different than how we currently use technology already? Most teachers will freely sign up for quizzing software, and will use of plagiarism-checking sites such as Turnitin, submit internet report card, etc. We also will transmit student data to school board servers, but using an outside ISP such as Rogers or Bell. According to Techsoup Canada (2015), about 90% of all data transmitted in Canada over the net actually pass through US servers at some point.
We are already trusting various companies to keep our data safe. If we want a fool-proof method to keep our data secure, then we will succeed, if you count on not using technology at all as success.
We will end up paralyzed in our worry about privacy and miss out on some exciting opportunities for our students. This does not mean that we should be reckless!
Here are some steps we can take as educators to ensure that we are being responsible, while also moving forward in the age of the cloud:
1. review your school's code of conduct on privacy
2. review your school board's policies on technology use and privacy
3. use sites such as https://tosdr.org/ to help you review the privacy terms listed in the Terms of Service of the software/website you would like to use. *Pro tip: have students use this site to evaluate social media sites they like to use*
4. reach out to your school's technology coach, board technology facilitators/officers for resources and guides that are employer-approved to help determine what can be used, and how.
5. contact your school's administration if you have questions or concerns about any of the above
We need to see the 'light' while not being paralyzed about the 'dark' when it comes to technology and privacy. Keeping online privacy in mind in the classroom can also lead to teachable moments that can translate into a digital citizenship lesson for students to apply to technology use outside the classroom.
Canada, T. (2015, December 15). Canadian privacy law, cloud computing and how it applies to nonprofits.Retrieved from
Team, T. (n.d.). Terms of Service; Didn't Read. Retrieved from https://tosdr.org/