Personal vs. professional social media

Our friends at EdSurge put together some interesting thoughts this week on what constitutes “professional” or “personal” social media for students. EdSurge collected a great set of links and ideas on this topic.

NYC DoE tries to draw a line

The NYC Department of Ed recently published a set of social media guidelines seeking to delineate between social media used for professional and personal purposes. However, as EdSurge points out, this is a fuzzy distinction for students.

Critics of the NYC guidelines emphasize the importance of teachers to being familiar with the social networks that their students are using both in and out of the classroom. If teachers don’t interact with students on their own turf—mobile devices, Facebook, Xbox Live, or social games such as DrawSomething—they could be missing out on an important opportunity to engage their students.

Kodiak helps teachers and parents understand how children are using the iPad to learn, communicate, and entertain themselves. As the new generation of digital natives grows up with these devices, it will be increasingly important for educators to understand their activity and to interact with them through their favorite mediums.

Know your tools: School loses data collected via Google Forms

Google Docs can be a fantastic tool for working digitally. The suite of products is comprehensive (word processor, presentation creator, spreadsheet program, and more), the collaboration features are top notch, and to made the deal even sweeter, it’s free.

However, Google Docs has its drawbacks. Teacher and blogger Vicki Davis discovered one recently—in a very frustrating way.

Google’s ToU prohibit personal data collection

Davis’s school lost information when Google deleted some data that had been collected using Google Forms. Google’s terms of service prohibit users from collecting personal information with Google Forms. “This includes a userid, password, AND emails,” writes Davis.

Google runs pieces of code on its servers that search for Google Docs that might be in violation of their terms of service. Problematic files are then deleted automatically.

Google Docs: Good, not perfect

Issues like this aren’t the only potential problem with using Google Docs in your school. You need an internet connection in order to use it, meaning your files won’t be available offline. And some people find that the programs, while simple to use, don’t have all of the features they want.

As we’ve mentioned before here on the Kodiak blog, privacy is a serious concern for us, as we know it is for you. Be careful out there when looking for ways to manage your students’ data.

Kodiak on privacy, COPPA, and data collection

Kodiak believes in using data to help parents and teachers improve their children’s education. We’re “big data” people who get excited about using information to do great things.

As we worked with parents and teachers to build Kodiak, we learned that data collection has gotten a bad rap. Many web service companies have abused their users’ trust and taken liberties with information that most people consider private.

Data can be your friend

Data collection in a broad sense isn’t bad. In fact, we think data collection designed to help parents and teachers is going to make the iPad an incredibly powerful educational tool.

Educational apps using our platform send data about what students are doing to our servers, and we process that data to provide insights for parents and teachers. A teacher using our software can look at a web dashboard and see that eight of her ten students are having trouble with the same spelling words, or that Billy has been speeding through an app without taking the time to answer questions correctly.

As cool as our platform is, there are legitimate privacy concerns when dealing with web-based services. Many of these have been brought to light recently as a result of FCC investigations and media exposure.

How Kodiak protects the privacy of you and your children

The Kodiak team takes privacy very seriously. Here are some of the steps we take to comply with COPPA and other legislation, and to respect your privacy.

  1. We use an encrypted, non-Apple device identifier (not your UDID). When you sign into Kodiak from one of our supported apps, we send the identifier to our servers so we can sign you into other Kodiak apps on the same iPad automatically. Since it’s not the device UDID, you don’t have to worry about it being intercepted and used to identify you to advertisers or other parties.
  2. You must be signed in to our service for data collection to take place. Unlike Flurry, Google Analytics, etc., we don’t send anything anywhere without a parent or teacher signing in to Kodiak first. We don’t want to track your kids—we want to give you insight into what they’re doing so you can help guide their learning!
  3. We ask for student’s first and last names, but nicknames are fine with us. We don’t need student’s real identities for any reason.
  4. At any time, you can visit our website and delete all data about your students permanently.
  5. We don’t share personally identifying student data with any third parties, and only the account owner can see data about their children. We use the data we collect to create graphs and charts, notifications, and app recommendations for our users when they visit our website and sign in. The data we share with developers is anonymized, aggregate information they use to improve their apps.

Check out our privacy policy for more details.

I hope this gives you a window into the steps we’ve taken to protect the privacy of our users. I’m curious to know if anyone has any ideas how we could do better? Our service is still in beta and we’re developing launch partnerships with app developers now. We want to make the iPad an outstanding educational tool, and I think we all need to nail the privacy issue to do it.