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The use of educational technology in schools has become increasingly prevalent in recent years. While it offers many benefits and opportunities for students, a new report warns that certain technologies pose a threat to the civil rights of vulnerable student populations.
The report, released by the Center for Democracy and Technologyhighlights concerns about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), digital surveillance, and content filters in schools. These technologies are often used to block explicit adult content or identify students at risk of self-harm or harm to others. However, they have also created serious problems for students with disabilities, LGBTQ students, and students of color.
According to the report, these technologies can inadvertently harm vulnerable students. LGBTQ classmates have been outed through digital surveillance without their consent, which can be a traumatic experience. Students with disabilities are more likely to face disciplinary action for using AI technology. Additionally, content filters often restrict information related to race or the LGBTQ community, essentially banning digital books.
Some schools have faced criticism for how they implement these technologies. For example, a Texas school district came under fire when it blocked access to the Trevor Project website aimed at LGBTQ youth. The American Civil Liberties Union sued the district over this issue.
The report emphasizes that certain groups of students should already be protected by existing civil rights laws but continue to face negative consequences due to educational technology and data usage. Elizabeth Laird, director of technology equity at the Center for Democracy and Technologyargues that there needs to be more federal guidance on this matter.
While schools have made efforts in recent years to address concerns about data privacy and security, the survey shows that both parents and students require more outreach and involvement regarding how technology is selected and used in schools.
The report also highlights the need for more training on AI technology. A significant number of teachers surveyed indicated that they have not received substantial training in AI, and many expressed a desire for more information and guidance on its correct use.
Students with disabilities are more likely to use AI technology, and their parents have reported higher rates of disciplinary action as a result. These students and their parents express greater concern about the privacy and security of data collected by schools.
The report suggests that licensed special education teachers should engage in conversations with students and parents about student privacy and equity in technology, as this could be extended to the rest of the school population.
Civil rights issues related to educational technology can extend beyond school walls. Students from low-income communities or those of color who rely on school-provided devices at home may face increased tracking and monitoring. This discrepancy creates an unequal learning environment compared to students who can opt out of such tracking.
Monitoring technology has become prevalent during remote learning due to the pandemic, but it has persisted even as students return to in-person classes. The report warns that surveillance technology can lead to various problems for students, including disproportionate disciplinary actions against students with disabilities or LGBTQ students.
In some cases, schools share data directly with authorities outside of school hours. This raises concerns about student privacy and potential violations of their right to a free and appropriate public education.
The opinion, while educational technology offers numerous benefits for students, it is crucial to address the potential threats it poses to vulnerable student populations. More federal guidance is needed, along with increased training for teachers on AI technology. Schools must prioritize student privacy and ensure that civil rights laws protect all students equally in the digital world.
According to LAist (source), this report emphasizes how certain technologies used in schools can infringe upon the civil rights of vulnerable student populations such as those with disabilities, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people of color. The study conducted by the Center for Democracy & Technology found that technologies such as artificial intelligence, digital surveillance, and content filters can inadvertently harm these students and create serious problems for them. For instance, LGBTQ+ students have been outed through digital surveillance without their consent, while students with disabilities are more likely to face disciplinary action for using AI technology. The report also highlights the need for more federal guidance on educational technology and calls for increased training for teachers on how to properly use these tools. It is crucial that schools prioritize student privacy and ensure that civil rights laws protect all students equally in the digital age.