Data is the new oil, and we are confronted almost daily with stories of folks trying to drill the next high-producing well. Retailers trade loyalty card perks for customer data. Social media trade connectivity for personal data– tons of it. And schools provide a rich opportunity to trade educational programs and assistance for a rich deposit of data in students (and teachers) who may not even be aware that Big Data is gathering data points by the bushel from their simplest activities. Industry leading Summit Learning, a provider of computer-run education programs, has admitted that they share the data they gather with 18 “partners.” The practice is not new; generations of test takers filled out the personal information pages with the PSAT; in 2013, the College Board and ACT were sued over the practice of selling student information. The process has just been accelerated by technology. Whatever you’re doing, if you’re doing it on a computer, you’re leaving a data trail.
More erosions of privacy occur daily. One of the items that sent West Virginia teachers out on strike last year was a rule that all teachers would carry a device that monitored their movement and activity. Last year saw incidents of a hacker group holding school district data hostage, and backing up their demands by sending threatening emails to parents.