Tech Tuesday: Privacy, Part 2 – Why Privacy?

Each Tuesday, pleasureinlearning brings you Tech Tuesday.  Come back each week for more ways to become efficient and effective in your use of technology. 

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You hear a lot of talk about computer security and personal privacy.  This series will explore privacy and the role you play as a consumer and as an individual.

Last week, I introduced you to a series on privacy.  I got to thinking that maybe my selection of topics for pleasureinlearning might be a little off base.  After further reflections, I believe this topic is as important as any that we cover here.  A while back, I wrote a post about trauma’s effects on education. While we strive to increase learning by learning pleasure, we also must mitigate issues that would detract from the experience.  Life trauma is one of those.  Loss of privacy is another.

Privacy is a cultural requirement for our students to feel safe and to learn.  This applies at home, in the classroom, in the workplace, as we consume goods and so on.  Really, it applies at all times.  Thus, we must have a healthy respect for privacy in our schools.  In addition, we must take charge of our own right to privacy and teach our students to do the same.

Here are some ways we can respect our students’ right to privacy. If you wish to review the definitions of the following privacy domains, see last week’s post.

  • Individual Control:  In every instance possible, we should give our students an ‘out’ if they do not wish to share personal data.  For example, I ask students to give me their phone number at the beginning of a course, but I don’t require it.
  • Transparency:  Students should be able to know how I will use that phone number, preferably before they give it to me.  In the assignment instructions it would be appropriate for me to tell them that I use the phone number when a phone call would be better or easier than an email.
  • Respect for Context:  My students can expect that I won’t use their personal information to try to sell them something from my kid’s school fundraiser.
  • Security:  At all times, my students deserve my best effort to protect their data from prying eyes.  I don’t leave my office door unlocked or my email open.  I don’t post grades and names together.
  • Access and Accuracy:  Students deserve accurate grades and the right to challenge the accuracy of grades without repercussions or difficulty.
  • Focused Collection:  While it is reasonable to ask for a student’s phone number, it is not reasonable for their instructors to ask for their social security number or their sex at birth.
  • Accountability:  Students have a right to know that I’m accountable for my use of their personal data. They know that I have a boss that I’m accountable too, they know they review me and my class, and they know that my employer has had a background check run on me.

Students learn better when they feel safe.  We can make them feel safe when we respect their right to privacy.  As a bonus, we have a platform to teach them how to protect and respect their own privacy.  Next week, get ready to dive in and see how you can and should protect your own privacy in our digital era.

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