Connecticut's self-service portal builds privacy into edtech

Vendors and district leaders are saving money, officials say, while teachers using edtech are freed from scanning legalese to protect student privacy.

To improve digital learning for its students, Connecticut is focusing on privacy protection.

The state’s Commission for Educational Technology has created a portal that allows edtech vendors to register their products and learn about the state’s digital privacy in education statute, all to ensure that edtech solutions meet the state’s requirements.

“Our solution in Connecticut is to design a self-service portal where providers of educational software that are doing great work and really helping digital learning can go in and register their products, learn about our law and take steps to comply,” Doug Casey, the executive director of the Commission for Educational Technology says in a video interview. “Conversely, we’ve got our districts that can go in and search for compliant software and then engage with those vendors to execute those contracts.”

The solution is especially important on the school side. In an era of increasing edtech usage, teachers are often the one to shoulder the burden of ensuring that software and technology will not violate student privacy.

“We’re almost asking our teachers now to become paralegals in reviewing terms of service before they even decide to share information about one student,” Casey says. “You see a continual struggle between the desire to innovate and make really good use of the technology that many districts have invested in, but conversely this desire and imperative to really protect student privacy.”

Since implementation, the state has seen a 4,000 percent return on investment, Casey says, and districts have saved more than $1 million in indirect costs. The platform is also “getting great reviews.”

“The advice here would be every district and every state is going to have different laws, different statutes,” Casey says. “Look at designing solutions that are going to help your schools, your districts get compliant and make sure that compliancy is in place without taking away innovation.”

Casey on digital learning:

Casey on top priorities:

Casey on broader edtech trends:

These videos were filmed and produced by EdScoop at the 2018 State Educational Technology Directors Association Leadership Summit in Arlington, Virginia.

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artificial intelligence, Connecticut, Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology, cybersecurity, digital learning, Doug Casey, privacy, SETDA, SETDA Leadership Summit
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