I have been writing a lot about ClassDojo recently, spurred by a combination of my professional concerns about the app and by my frustration that my kid’s school is now using it. Last week, I was pleased to see a new report from the United Kingdom-based Digital Futures Commission about not only ClassDojo but also Google Classroom. I’m sure my kid will have to use this latter software as well, so it’s good to be aware.
So far, I’ve only had time to skim the executive summary of the report, though I’ve filed it away to read elsewhere. One paragraph from the report was a perfect summary of my concerns about ClassDojo use in my kid’s school, so I wanted to share it:
Through their everyday learning at school, and while using school-provided or recommended services for homework, children are subject to data processing over which they and their school have little or no knowledge or control. Nominally, schools are the ‘data controllers’ responsible for children’s education and protecting their personal data. But the corporate power of EdTech, its ethos of data maximisation (rather than minimisation), and commercially-motivated policies and designs place a near-impossible burden on any school, parent, caregiver or child wanting to manage how data processed from children are used. The report notes that schools lack the budget, capacity and technical/legal skills required to exercise their responsibilities. This statement is not meant to imply that schools are doing a bad job but that they are placed in an impossible position to navigate the complex technology and regulatory landscapes shaped by plurality of global political, commercial players with competing interests.
This sums it up so well. What we really need is higher-level scrutiny and regulation of these tools in schools. In the (perhaps eternal) meantime, I think it’s fair to ask schools to be critical about the tools that they use, but it’s a hard balancing act between pushing for this critical approach and not telling schools that they are doing a bad job. Nonetheless, I’m glad that folks are doing this kind of work!
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