Course 2: Week 3

Protecting Data in Education

The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data claims the Economist. Is teacher and student data at risk? Who profits? How can our data be protected? These are just some of the questions I’ve considered this week.

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

This is a big topic and one I didn’t have much background knowledge of. But this paragraph from the Educator Toolkit for Teacher and Student Privacy helped give me some context.

“So what is privacy and why does it matter? Privacy refers to the ability to protect one’s own personal information and control with whom and how the information is shared. It matters because even if you’re not doing anything illegal or feel you have nothing to hide, the standards and norms by which judgments are made about behavior that’s “right” versus “wrong” today could easily change tomorrow. Moreover, the freedoms of expression, association, and assembly — all of which are necessary for a free and functioning democratic society — are underpinned by the
right to privacy.”

Context Matters

The Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) was established by the U.S. Department of Education as a one-stop-shop for education stakeholders on all things data privacy, confidentiality, and security practices for student data. Even though I work at a WASC accredited American-style school, it’s located outside of America. This week’s materials led me to search for the Laws of Mongolia on Education.

Truth is, I’ve experienced some cringe-worthy moments as an educator in Mongolia: ranking students by exam scores, public grade comparisons, and shaming, grade changing, unashamedly preferential treatment for high scoring students, etc. All of which, violated student data privacy. I have seen a shift in recent years; progress in Asia is well underway.

According to this blog post, Mongolia doesn’t have legislation to criminalize violations of privacy breaches. Only in 2011, Mongolian Data protection Law (adopting a Law on Personal Secrecy 1995 and a Law on Personal Secrecy/ Privacy Law) was first approved. The author, Badamsuren Batchuluun, Mongolia, mentions more training should be conducted to inform the public and government about data protection law.

More needs to be done. I see a huge gap in protecting student data and confidentiality in Mongolia and I hope the final project for this course can help me discover ways to close it.

Further Resources:

Common Sense Digital Curriculum

Making Sense of Data for teachers and Google for Education Trainers

The Privacy Project by The New York Times


Protecting Student Privacy on Social Media

Lingering Question:

How can I advocate for legislation in Mongolia to protect student data and privacy?

One thought on “Course 2: Week 3”

  1. Hi Brittany

    I like your introductory quote from the Educator Toolkit for Teacher and Student Privacy, especially the last part: “…Moreover, the freedoms of expression, association, and assembly — all of which are necessary for a free and functioning democratic society — are underpinned by the
    right to privacy.”

    This reminded me of the novel:  The Circle by Dave Eggers. It is like Google Home on steroids. I read it a few years ago during the summer holiday. I thought it extreme and a bit single minded. But then, with America going in the direction it’s going, I probably shouldn’t laugh and shake my head at how outlandish this book sounded when it talk about privacy. It’s like new age communism with a hive mind.

    What is privacy in this day and age?

    I like how you are connecting Mongolia’s awareness of digital privacy to this information in course 2.

    For foreigners in Asia, it seems like privacy has a different meaning . When I worked in Japan, it was quite alright for my supervisor to know my health information as I needed her help to translate and make appointments. I felt uncomfortable but at the time, what other option did I have? This seemed normal to her and to my other Japanese colleagues. I guess there were no secrets as we were all in the same work group?

    I find in Korea, a student will ask to go to the bathroom. Next thing I know, I’m missing 4 students. The student who asked to leave didn’t ask for their friends, they assumed I understood they were all going together because they are in the same friend group. “I” means “Us”.

    I’m glad your school stopped posting public student grades and comparing the students. I find in Korea, this still happens even if grades are kept private. There is a strong sense of competition and it’s difficult to teach empathy because competition is so normalized (and valued).

    Great concluding question! It sounds like more protocols need to be in place but this also may need to be thought of from a cultural perspective. Perhaps asking a local staff member for their opinion and perspective on digital privacy may help you get ideas.

    I should look more into Korea’s digital privacy laws and how they are enacted. Thank you for your insights and the idea!

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