Many educators are challenged to make a decision between traditional hardbound curriculum materials versus free resources that can be found online. As a society we continue to move towards a “unified classroom”. The influence of technology and ubiquitous Internet access is the number one leading influence as to why schools are substituting textbooks for online application tools. Coupled with the fact that school districts spend billions of dollars each year on textbooks. Switching to educational materials, that are openly licensed, enables schools to repurpose funding spent on static textbooks for other pressing education concerns, such as investing in the transition to digital learning (buying tablets, e-readers, chrome books and smartphones). The value propositions are easily comprehended, traditional textbooks are perpetually outdated, forcing districts to continually invest significant portions of their budgets on replacing them. Conversely, the terms of use associated with openly licensed educational resources essentially keep curriculum dynamic and also allow educators to maintain the quality and relevance of their materials through continuous updates. However, there is one critical lynchpin in this conversion from traditional curriculum books to online learning platforms – that is of course – reliable internet access and compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and Student Data Privacy Laws.

Open Educational Resources (OER), which are high-quality teaching, learning, and research materials, that are free for people everywhere to use and repurpose, do create a conundrum for schools in order to comply with CIPA and the ESSA Notice of Public Rule Making (NPRM)

Districts across the nation are already adopting smart technologies. Familiar smart devices include ebooks, tablets, and interactive smartboards. Schools have rolled out programs like BYOD and 1:1 to provide students with mobile access to online educational resources. Adaptive learning technologies adjust to each students’ Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), and gathers student data on the back-end for teacher analysis. Online educational programs, online assessments, Student Information Systems (SIS), and Learning Management Systems (LMS) procure, store, share, and report student data which provides insights that enable educators and administrators to make ‘smarter’ decisions.

Data Privacy

Student data privacy is a key issue related to educational technology. Connected devices, educational apps, online assessments, and digital reporting systems receive and share data with other services. Schools and online educational service providers can protect liability and obtain best practice by obtaining verified parental consent through i-SAFE Direct VPC services.

As schools adopt ‘smart’ technologies to augment education, administrators and IT leaders must also make smart decisions with regard to security, cost, and privacy. Here are three solutions:

  1. Secure student identity through i-SAFE Direct
  2. Reduced cost of high speed broadband by adopting CIPA/E-Rate Compliance Technology
  3. Obtain Verified Parental Consent with i-SAFE Direct VPC services