Google Virtual Learning Environments (other VLEs are available)(1 Post)
If you haven't had a consent form shoved under your nose to use Google's virtual learning environment yet, you may soon have.
With deep cuts hitting schools, it's prime time to offload 'free' Google and/or Microsoft apps on classes.
Problem is, parents are required by law (Data Protection Act and the new GDPR coming in during May 2018) to give consent to using these free apps, because in most cases, and certainly in Google's case, the companies collect data about your child's use. It's not really surprising, given that Google's core business is advertising.
Now, the consent form will say 'we don't serve up adverts', and reassure you in very specific ways. But there is usually a set of clauses, activated by your overall signature of consent, that permits Google and other parties to share data for commercial use. So, whilst kids may not see ads during their use at school, they may well find their school use data being used to target ads at them if they sign up to their Google accounts at home.
You may be surprised to learn that many schools don't even understand that there is a legal duty to obtain parental consent to process their child's data and thus allow use of these suites at school. I gather most schools are simply using them without further thought. As we speak, this issue is hitting the desks of Government ministers.
Many of you may think that this is perfectly fine and all commercial companies are really interested in keeping your kids 'safe'. But they are also interested in their data and future customer potential, and issue contracts with very careful wording so as to let them do this.
I was glad to learn that quite a few parents have realised what's going on (there are plenty of articles online about this), and several consents in one class have been witheld, forcing the use of conventional paper exercises. Schools appear singularly unprepared for that eventuality, merely expecting a 'yes' from all parents.
Think before you sign. After all, all humanity until now has managed perfectly well to educate itself without the use of Google Chromebooks and a lifelong attachment to Google adverts and services.
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