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Apps Are Keeping Track of Students, but Who Is Keeping Track of the Apps?

Teacher uses an iPad in a classroom.
By Kellie Pantekoek on December 03, 2019 9:00 AM

Schools today are turning to software applications for help with everything from grading and tracking homework to managing behavior and class scheduling. And now apps are even available to manage hall passes.

The app e-Hallpass records each student's whereabouts throughout the school day, including trips taken to the bathroom, principal's office, or the health office. The app not only helps teachers to keep track of students, it also allows administrators to look back at where students were at a given time or spot patterns that could suggest an issue.

Teachers Can Check for 'Red Flags' Before Granting Hall Passes

When using the e-Hallpass app, students request to use the bathroom (or visit the nurse, etc.) on a school-issued laptop or tablet. Their teachers then check for "red flags" that could prevent them from issuing the pass (such as too frequent of requests by the same student or another student, who the requesting student is supposed to avoid, already being in the hall) and choose whether to grant the pass.

The teachers then log the students as returned when the students get back. After a student has been gone for a certain period of time, an administrator is pinged to check on the student.

What isn't there to love about an app that lets teachers and school administrators track and study your every move? A lot, many students say. And some parents agree, the Washington Post reported.

When Technology Advancements Come With Privacy Intrusions

Technology comes with big time-saving, value-adding benefits, but as we all know, there are costs. One notable sacrifice is privacy. Data privacy has become an important topic anywhere technology is used — which is basically everywhere, including schools.

Kids, and more often their parents, want to know how personal information is being collected at school and what that information is being used for. Schools are left with the difficult position to decide which apps to use, how to use them, and how to approach the topic with parents.

Schools Are Still Figuring out How to Deal With Data Privacy

In many cases, school-focused apps have privacy policies that say student data is not shared with third parties, but schools are often left in charge of the data that is collected and how long it is kept. With some schools using hundreds of applications at any given time, keeping track of the privacy policies — and data — can be a huge undertaking. It's no wonder that parents often feel left in the dark.

Parents who are concerned about privacy issues can set up a meeting with teachers or school administrators for answers. Many schools are also receptive to parents opting out of having their children's data gathered by the apps or used by the school.

At this time when technology is advancing faster than laws and administrators can keep up, it is parents who will hold schools and software companies accountable for privacy violations. For assistance, you may want to speak with an education law attorney in your state.

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