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Things to consider before downloading that app

By Team ISTE
April 2, 2015
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Say you're an elementary math teacher and you've just discovered the perfect app for helping your students understand fractions. It's simple to use, available across devices and, best of all, it's free. You want to download it immediately to your class set of iPads, right? Well, not so fast.

Even the most user-friendly apps might contain some very unfriendly policies that affect student privacy.

When it comes to protecting student data privacy, it's imperative that school and district teachers, staff and administrators practice good data management for using online apps and services. A host of federal, state and local laws govern student privacy, so it's important to have a clear process to follow for reviewing apps.

The video below, produced by the U.S. Department of Education's Privacy Technical Assistance Center, offers these tips for reviewing apps or services that use click-wrap agreements, meaning that users just click a button to accept terms of service:

  1. Identify who within your school or district will be responsible for reviewing apps and services.
  2. Create an easy way for faculty to receive feedback about third-party apps and services they'd like to use in the classroom.
  3. Read through terms of service carefully. They may be long and full of legalese, so talk to your administrator or legal team to help make sense of them.
  4. Print the terms for your records.
  5. Check the terms often to make sure they haven't been changed.

Watch the video below to learn more about protecting student privacy and security at your school or district.

Want to learn more? The Privacy Technical Assistance Center, working with the Department of Education's Family Policy Compliance office, has a checklist for evaluating online educational tools' terms of service agreements. 

Also learn about a process that can help you make effective decisions about educational technology in your school in the new book Securing the Connected Classroom: Technology Planning to Keep Students Safe.