Privacy – The New Challenge Of The Educational Sector
All websites and platforms with internet access have had to make their information management policies visible due to a concern that has become more and more common among the general public: online privacy.
Social networks, video calls, online games, and even educational platforms have had to communicate their privacy settings to users to give them the option to decide how far to share their most sensitive data with applications.
The isolation due to the pandemic has precipitated an overload of activity on the platforms, but it has also changed how they are used. Video calls are no longer just a method of social connection between friends or collaborators with wide geographical dispersion and have also become synonymous with virtual classes.
Initially, appropriating the platforms for these new uses was not considered. Still, considering that the period of social distancing is only extending, the need to define security protocols in virtual classrooms intensifies since their use is no longer a temporary solution.
In the educational field, the most prominent concern is the need to evaluate students online through exams that allow them to qualify and pass the grade even if they cannot attend classes yet. This does not sound difficult at first, but how do we ensure that the evaluations are taken honestly?
No Privacy In The Name Of Honesty
Many educational authorities describe evaluation platforms as a necessary evil, tells us the Educational Observatory of the Tecnológico de Monterrey; because in the absence of face-to-face monitoring by a teacher, they are unique in ensuring the honesty of the answers given by the students. However, the strategies they use require parents and teachers to assign a very high amount of trust to virtual assessment platforms that, due to lack of information, they may not fully understand.
“Most of these platforms do not allow students to access the exams until they have their webcam activated, take a photo of their face, a valid ID (in the case of university students) and register their room with the camera to make sure they do not there is nothing that allows academic dishonesty” continues the Educational Observatory, going on to argue that if such extreme or invasive measures were taken to present an in-person exam, parents would question the idea that their child would continue attending that school.
The reality is that accumulating such personal data is a risk regardless of what type of platform collects it or for what purpose it is used since databases can be compromised by cybercriminals seeking to obtain confidential information, either for profit or for perpetuating other criminal activities. A reasonable question that arises from the use of these platforms is why teachers do not carry out checks like these for each student personally through a video call so that it is impossible for them to be dishonest.
These platforms were designed to serve many students without the need for human scrutiny, being able to evaluate dozens or even hundreds of exams in less than half the time it would take a teacher to do so.
But, it is not intended to argue that platforms such as these are not necessary to obtain that fundamental honesty in education. Instead, it seeks to direct the attention of parents and teachers to the scrutiny that these platforms practice, especially when the students are younger and your information is more sensitive. It is your responsibility to question: which data is necessary to ensure that each student is learning with the tests and which is an exaggeration, resulting in dangerous invasions of privacy.
When do these platforms stop being valid educational tools to become legitimate Spyware? In this question lies the center of the evaluation controversy that must be reviewed in-depth, with the cybersecurity and privacy of students as the center of any change in method or platforms. As long as the distancing continues, we cannot underestimate the importance of taking care of students.
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