Schools from across America reportedly spied on students during the pandemic using the very laptops they gave for their distance learning.
The Blaze said a Center for Democracy and Technology research showed that 86% of teachers revealed their schools provided Chromebooks, tablets, or laptops to students for home use has almost doubled compared annually.
The said electronic devices are said to have been used to monitor the students with the intention to protect students from the harassment and suicidal ideation. However, the said method of monitoring involved coming "through private chats, emails, and documents" of the students.
The 22-page research of the Center for Democracy and Technology is entitled, "Online and Observed. Student Privacy Implications of School-Issued Devices and Student Activity Monitoring Software." The research aimed to examine whether students who used school-issued equipment were subjected to more monitoring as compared to their peers who didn't.
As per the research's finding, 80% of the teachers that participated in their survey have said that surveillance software was installed by the schools in the electronic equipment given to the students to enable the monitoring. An anonymous administrator even divulged that the teachers actually believed that a greater good will result due to the surveillance even though they spied on the students.
"We knew that there were students out there having ideations around suicide, self-harm and those sorts of things the administrator. (We) found this (student activity monitoring software). We could also do a good job with students who might be thinking about bullying...(I)f I can save one student from committing suicide, I feel like that platform is well worth every dime that we paid for (it)," the Center's research quoted the administrator in saying.
According to administrators who participated in the survey, technology aids in benefiting families and their children in reducing the rate of teen suicide or bullying, which in turn create a more harmonious experience in school.
The research then concluded that students who were more affluent experienced far less surveillance since they used their personal devices as against students who were from undeserved communities who were naturally "monitored to a greater extent than their peers using personal devices" since they used electronic equipment provided by the school.
"(Local educational agencies) with wealthier student populations reported that their students are more likely to have access to personal devices, which are subject to less monitoring than school-issued devices. Most prevalent community concerns were focused on appropriate use of student activity monitoring data for disciplinary purposes," the research said.
"With the expansion of school-issued devices and student activity monitoring software, this study examined their impact and whether student recipients of school-issued devices were subject to more monitoring than their peers using devices that they or their families own," it added. "Based on reports from LEAs, it would appear that students using school-issued devices are subject to more monitoring than their peers using personal devices."
The research also pointed out areas that would prove useful "for policymakers and practitioners to consider in their efforts to close the homework gap while protecting student privacy."