Feb
23
2012

Permission Slips for Digital Tools (& Web Services)

Yesterday, a CIO of a school district shared the following email with me.  I thought it perfect, to share here.  The point is to communicate and make sure everyone involved has some level of exposure and understanding of the landscape.

Email sent to all staff:

Dear Teachers,

Remember that last time you went on a field trip and then a week later you realized that you forgot to send out a permission form?….. oh wait that wouldn’t happen!  :)

 

More and more websites are popping up that offer teachers tools that provide for more interaction with students. While these are great resources, we must remain mindful of our responsibilities in using such website. Sites that gather identifying information from children under the age of 13 (such as Edmodo, Kidblog, Facebook, etc…) must comply with the federally mandated Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). In a nutshell it is the web service’s job to gain, by some mechanism, parent permission with the end user (meaning the student).  Basically any student under the age of 13 must have parent permission. For some websites this process is painful and lengthy and for others it is relatively straightforward.  Also, some sites altogether disallow anyone under the age of 13 to utilize their service.

 

If you wish to use a website that requires students to submit personal information, it is your responsibility to read the Terms of Service. More often than not, this is located at the bottom of the page. The district Student Acceptable Use Policy does not cover use of these sites without additional parent permission. Some websites set age limits higher than 13. Others allow for teachers to create their own form as a means of parent permission. You must take the extra step to 1) educate yourself on any age restrictions and 2) send out a parent permission form that outlines how you are using the site and gather signatures. I realize that this is just “one more thing” for you to do, but it is necessary.

 

Remember, this is only for sites whereby your students are entering identifying information.

 

Additional Resources:

COPPA – Children’s Online Privacy Protection:  http://www.coppa.org/comply.htm

How to Protect Kids’ Privacy Online: A Guide for Teachers http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/tech/tec10.shtm

If you have any questions please let me know.

Thanks!

 

Again, communication is so important.  What this email did is spark a ton of conversation AND most importantly some brainstorming on solutions to the best way to get parent permission.

Marty Park

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