Classroom Management Creates Privacy Concerns
For as long as there have been classrooms, there have been systems for rewarding students who display good behavior and encouraging those acting out to improve. The advent of the digital age has led to new, app-based means for tracking children’s behavior and progress that takes place both online and on a larger scale.
While there are many such apps related to classroom management, one very popular program is ClassDojo and it is being used in as many as a third of our nation’s schools. The app is free to download and use, with a primary focus on the tracking of behavior as opposed to more concrete statistical data like test scores. Currently, the app’s terms of service indicate that teachers who download and implement the software are asserting that they have permission from their school to do so. However, with such a new technology not all schools have a plan in place for approving or tracking teachers’ use of applications in the classroom.
Parents are not required to give explicit consent for their child’s teacher to input their behavior into a database via ClassDojo. Parents wishing to opt their child out of the program must do so by contacting the teacher or emailing the company.
The people behind making ClassDojo have created a detailed page on privacy and security concerns. They ensure parents that data will not be sold to, or shared with, third parties. Critics worry that because this is a free service, there may be some other unforeseen trade off down the road as the company seeks to further monetize the application. The creators explain that they plan to market more detailed reports to parents for a fee.
The other major concern, outside of student data leaving the classroom, is the notion that apps which boil down behavior so succinctly, and present it as points for indeterminate acts like “disrespect,” may unfairly label children. A desire to create more managed classrooms and quantify a quality like behavior may lead to “problem-child” designations that could become difficult for children to shake.
Are classroom management apps and behavior tracking software useful tools or dangerous and unproven practices? Are you comfortable with a private corporation having access to information on school children? Are you aware of this or other such software being used in your or your child’s classroom?
We encourage families to discuss the notion of privacy in the digital age and the importance of staying informed about exactly what data exists about them and where.