Who's vetting the apps and websites kids are using for school?

Provides information about how a web site performs, how each page renders, and whether there are technical issues on the web site to the web site ...
Who's vetting the apps and websites kids are using for school?

Prodigy is a brand long trusted by parents for educational technology in the home. So when a child comes back from school with log-in details from his or her teacher, and asks to download the app, most parents would agree and let the child use it. And those parents might be surprised when the app blocks the child from some games (or game levels) until the family ponies up a monthly membership fee.

Educational games are supposed to reward the player for correct answers, not for a credit card number. Yet, here is an app that many schools allow and encourage students to use with their school-issued devices. The devices that many of those children must now use to get any kind of instruction as the coronavirus lockdown keeps them home.

Parents are beginning to get a full picture of the technology and apps their kids use in school as Texas switches to online learning during the lockdown. The tablets, laptops, video conferencing apps and other ways that teachers are connecting with students are remarkable; it is a small ray of grace that children can continue their studies as much of the rest of the world shuts down. And educators have worked very hard to come up with creative ways to teach concepts that are more easily explained face to face.

Still, the technology that parents in North Texas see is not uniform across the state nor necessarily across a district; and much of it is hardly vetted by education officials. We hope this experience using online learning apps during the lockdown will prompt parents to demand that districts, the State Board of Education and the Texas Education Agency create a process for reviewing and recommending online learning technology that is as rigorous as the one used to select textbooks.

This issue goes beyond security or firewalls to prevent kids from accessing adult material. Those protections must be top notch, and we expect that school districts and technology professionals are constantly working to prevent kids from encountering porn, violence and stalkers on the internet. But it would be ridiculous to say that so long as a text book doesn’t have nudie pictures, it’s good enough for our kids. A text book must meet specific educational standards to be recommended by the State Board of Education and then selected by districts. The process takes many months. Technology tools and online curriculum should be subject to a process that accounts for both the security of the online resource and whether the educational content aligns with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards.

Some apps that school children use are standard communication tools, such as Google Classroom, which allows teachers to assign work to students, track completion and communicate with students along the way. This is useful, and the curriculum comes from the teachers. Still, some parents question what Google might be up to with all that school data. Districts, including Dallas ISD, often have a process of requiring technology and legal professionals to review apps before they are recommended for teachers to use. But a full and public review by the state of Texas would air these concerns that parents have about the use of student data and, we would hope, set minds at ease.

Other apps offer educational content, such as books or games to help students read, practice math or learn history or science. And some districts, including Dallas ISD, review the content for alignment with the district’s curriculum. But again, a district-level review of a website is not as rigorous as a state review of a textbook. And a scan of online learning websites of various districts shows that many teachers who suddenly had to develop an online learning system from scratch grabbed the most expedient resources.

The effort by districts, the Texas Education Agency and especially teachers to somehow create online curriculum in a matter of weeks is extraordinary, and we salute their efforts. Large districts like Dallas already have access to online resources, but struggle to ensure kids can connect at home. Smaller districts have even more trouble getting this right so that all students have a reasonable shot at a good education.

Their achievement is monumental, and this sudden online learning experience should make it very plain that our districts have work to do to get their arms around the technology that students are already using. They will need the help of the TEA and the State Board of Education, which reviews textbooks; they will need full engagement of their school boards and local legislators; and most importantly, they will need students and parents to demand high standards.

Without a new rigorous process, it should be clear that the level of education provided online will not match what we all should expect.

. Dallas Morning News editorials are written by the paper's Editorial Board and serve as the voice and view of paper. The board considers a broad range of topics and is overseen by the Editor of Editorial Page.

Editorial and commentary from op-ed columnists, the editorial board and contributing writers from The Dallas Morning News, delivered three days a week.



source https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/2020/04/19/whos-vetting-the-apps-and-websites-kids-are-using-for-school/

Post a Comment

0 Comments