The COVID-19 pandemic has brought huge changes in our lives. One of the most impacted is how students get their education. Physical face-to-face classroom classes have given way to online distance learning.
In choosing what technology, platforms and applications to use, most schools, teachers and parents lean towards those that offer ease of use, availability and affordability. Most of the time, they unknowingly make choices without privacy vetting.
Privacy data professionals are most concerned about the unlawful collection and misuse of student information and images. Another problem they see is the random display of products and services not suited for young people.
Radenta Technologies Inc., one of the country’s top digital transformation solutions providers, shares tips for teachers, parents and students to ensure safety and privacy. Data Privacy Officer Jeffrey James Brosula explains.
- Use strong password protection and authentication when signing to e-learning platforms. Strong passwords should be at least 12 characters containing upper and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols.
2. Install anti-virus and anti-spam programs and regularly update them.
Users can download free anti-virus and anti-spam programs. They are easy to install, highly reliable and does not take much computer resources. Once installed, these anti-virus and anti-spam automatically check for security updates and scans your computer for malwares.
- Enable firewall protection. It provides the first line of defense in securing data against cyberattacks. Firewalls prevent unauthorized users from accessing your mails and information that can be accessed from the web.
A firewall is an application that controls and monitors the data that comes in and out of your network based on a set of rules. Parents can program firewalls to prevent student access to prohibited sites. Windows 10 operating system comes with Windows Defender Firewall.
- Always backup files.
The nature of the file to be stored and how the users want to access it determine the backup type. If users will store business information or sensitive personal information, it is best to use external hard drives. If the user uses different devices to access data, it is suggested that file be stored in the cloud.
- Before the start of classes, parents, teachers and students must decide whether they want to leave the microphone and cameras on all the time.
If the use of a webcam is made optional, students who want to ask questions or participate in a discussion can use the Raise Hand feature available in all meeting apps. This feature is visible to all participants and is shown by a hand icon next to the student’s name.
6. When leaving the online class, turn-off the microphone and camera.
7. Change the background to avoid possible disclosure of personal information.
Meeting programs allows users to use virtual backgrounds, which cover whatever sensitive personal information is behind the user such as diplomas with photos hanging on the wall.
- Ensure that parent consent is obtained for the recording of classes for children below 18 years old. The Data Privacy Act of 2012 states that consent shall be evidenced by written, electronic or recorded means.
- Consider being present during online sessions, especially if the student is a minor.
- Teach basic online security such as not sharing passwords, phone numbers, names of household members, and other information, even with classmates.
- Keep the home computer in a location where it is easy to monitor. This way it would be easy to check on what the kids are looking at.
1. Open pop-ups, unknown emails, and links.
Pop-ups are small screens or windows that appear on top of web pages in your browser that advertisers use to attract attention. Hackers, on the other hand, use pop-ups to trick users to perform a simple task such as pressing a button to “Cancel” or “Close” a webpage. This action can download a virus or trigger multiple pop-ups. Users can safely close a pop-up in Microsoft Windows by pressing Ctrl-W or Alt-F4 in their keyboard.
Unknown e-mails or links can contain a malware that activates right away after opening or after clicking the link. Delete unknown e-mails and links and empty your Trash folder afterwards.
- Submit assignments, projects, and other requirements to teachers via social media.
Popular social media platforms are not designed for educational use and lacks the privacy protection for students. These platforms may collect sensitive personal information of students as they would a normal adult consumer. The personal information of students can be used by commercial, for-profit entities for targeted or behavioral advertising.
Teachers must use Learning Management Systems (LMS) for students to submit assignments and projects. The LP+365 School LMS is worth checking out.
- Take screenshots of the video feed of teachers and classmates.
Photos and video images of teacher and students, if not used for learning and taken without the parent’s consent is a violation of privacy. It could also end up in social media platforms and possibly subject the students to bullying and sexual comments.
- Share online links and their passwords.
Sharing online links and passwords, even to classmates, would make it easier for unscrupulous individual to take control of their account.
- Connect phones, laptops, and other gadgets to free or public Wi-Fi networks.
If the only option for the student is to connect to a public Wi-Fi, find out if a website is encrypted, look for the https at the beginning of the web address (“s” is for secure). Some websites apply encryption only on the sign-in page. Students and parents must investigate the https in every webpage they visit.
- Allow other people to use your home computer whether to upload or download files, check their e-mails or simply browse the web.
- Store personal information of students in personal account or device.
A teacher’s personal mobile phone or laptop is prone to unlawful, unauthorized, or accidental usage which could jeopardize personal information stored in the device. Personal information of students must be stored in a secure environment, physical or cloud-based, which includes encryption while in storage, authentication and other controls to limit access.
- Share personal information of students.
Personal information of students can only be shared to regulatory authority, in this case, Department of Education, without requiring consent. Teachers must inform the data subject with whom it will share the information (online or offline) when asking for consent.
- Post announcement involving personal information of students, such as results of diagnostic test, quizzes, or quarterly grades.
Personal information should be sent direct to the student’s account and not posted for all students to see. This is to protect the confidentiality of the student’s sensitive personal information.
To end, Brosula says, “Teachers, parents and students must always be vigilant when going online.” Technology brings with it both benefits and challenges.