“No Child Left Untableted”

The NYtimes published a comprehensive article on the rise of tablet use in K-12 education, specifically Amplify tablets. Amplify provides low-cost tablets that run variety of reading, math and science games that are calibrated to the national standards. As expected, big data themes have created opportunities for innovation in this industry as well (ie. adaptive learning), and allows for change in the way children are taught. But with data always comes privacy issues – to whom does the data belong? 

The article elaborates:

And privacy issues can arise because school systems lack the experience to negotiate data agreements that anticipate all the ways technology companies could put student information to use.“When you’re talking about Rupert Murdoch and his empire,” says Josh Golin, the associate director at the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, “there are a number of ways that data could be valuable to his companies beyond instruction.” Klein [(CEO of Amplify)], who has grown used to addressing privacy concerns, says flatly, “The data belongs to the district.”

This runs a bit counter to what we’ve seen about walled data, where companies who understand the value of data work to protect and aggressively monetize their user information. For the consumer, it’s comforting to see a stance like Klein’s. The downside here is that data collected at one school district cannot be used to help students in other district. In addition, what happens when a student transfers from one district to another?

I’m wondering in a world of walled data, are we hindering the extent to which big data can lead to actionable information? This tension between privacy and data usage is one of the reasons I like supporting open data project, such as OpenPaths.

What do you think?

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