Pedagogo S1-E6 Privacy Policies in the Age of COVID-19


In the final episode of the Pedagogo Season 1, host Dr. Allison Case engages two new guests in discussion about the role of privacy in the ever-evolving landscape of education and how educators can use the break before Fall 2020 classes to get up to date with the changes that have emerged in the wake of COVID-19.

The first guest, Eric Connelly, Vice President of Client Development with ExamSoft, begins by describing the overlapping relationship between privacy and security in education, as well as the levels of privacy that vary by discipline. Eric describes the sudden attention around privacy policy in education as a result of the switch from on-campus learning to remote learning necessitated by the pandemic. For example, technologies like digital assessment and remote proctoring have caused more students to question how their information is being used. Eric suggests that institutions take an opportunity to revise policies to account for new modalities before the Fall 2020 semester. On the subject of remote learning, Eric stresses the importance of switching from a reactive mindset to a proactive mindset. This involves working to maintain accreditation standards in a remote setting, prioritizing the protection of student data privacy, and identifying the tools institutions will need to do these things effectively.

The second guest, Devon Lash, IT administrator at the Binghamton University School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, defines privacy as the assurance of knowing that the information an individual creates stays with them unless they want to share it. Devon notes that in the digital age, it is difficult to be sure that information will always remain private and that institutions must create clear privacy policies to ensure students understand the policy terms. Devon shares how his institution created an addendum to syllabi in the Spring 2020 semester to account for changes related to COVID-19, the result of a combined effort with academic administration, student affairs, and the curriculum committee. When transitioning to a remote plan that includes proctoring services, Devon recommends that institutions define how they are currently protecting data, classifying the different levels of privacy for that data, and potentially seeking the support of an outside company to identify any lapses in security. Devon notes that teamwork, cooperation, and foresight are essential for institutions seeking to put a robust privacy policy in place.