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Philippine university discusses safety of personal information in the digital age

Philippine university discusses safety of personal information in the digital age

An announcement
from the Ateneo de
Manila University
highlighted how educational institutions should
have principles and policies in place that will protect the personal
information of students. Access and availability of information is made easier
thereby improving the learning experience. However, maintaining the protection
of personal data should also be given equal importance.

The present era is described by most people
as the digital age or the information age. The term is apt given how
information has become very accessible with the help of technology.
Advancements in technology paved the way for the widespread use of the Internet
since the end of the 20th century. It has changed the way humans
live, including the way they obtain and distribute information.

Learning experiences in the academe have
been boosted by the availability of new tools and techniques. Students and
teachers alike own a tablet or a smartphone, all of which can access the
Internet.

Gadgets can also host applications and
software that assist in classroom management, student interaction and class
presentation. Student and teacher life have been greatly improved by features
like voice recording, uploading of lesson plans, class scheduling, digital
gradebook, and the tracking of student progress.

Some schools have incorporated the use of
these gadgets in their curriculum as a way to modernise their approach to education
whereas other schools still give the teachers freedom to decide when it will be
appropriate to utilise the use of these tools.

Indeed, the growing popularity is proof
that the presence of these gadgets provided students, educators, parents and
guardians with benefits that make life easier.

With the free flow of information
occurring, it is important for schools and educators to remember their
responsibility to protect the students, including their personal information.
This role is sometimes overlooked and so there is a need to consistently remind
everyone that even learning tools can pose risks if left unattended or used
improperly.

Principles in securing personal information
of students when using new technologies should be remembered.  Data should be used to promote and supplement
student learning and success. Data should be used as a tool for informing,
engaging, and empowering students, families, teachers, and school system
leaders.

Timely access to information should be
granted to students, families, and educators. Personal information of students
must only be shared with service providers if it has a legitimate educational
purpose and if subjected to clearly written terms of agreement.  

Consent must be obtained from a parent or
guardian if the student is a minor. A student can only give consent if they are
aged 18 and above. School systems should have policies for overseeing this
process, including support and guidance for teachers.

Publicly available rules and guidelines
regarding how student data is collected, used, protected and destroyed is a
must for educational institutions and their contracted service providers, which
include researchers. As a general rule, they should only have access to the
minimum amount of information necessary to support and guarantee student
learning.

All personnel with access to the personal
information of students must undergo proper training in handling personal data
effectively and ethically.

An educational institution with the
authority to collect and maintain student personal information should have a
system of governance that features rules and procedures. The institution should
designate the individual or group responsible for deciding on issues that
involved data collection, use, access, sharing, and security.

Having a policy for notification in the
event that information is misused or breached, including the provision of any
reliefs is essential. Schools should maintain a security process that follows
widely-accepted industry best practices. Lastly, a point of contact must be designated
from whom students and families can obtain information regarding their rights,
as well as other clarifications.

Technological advancements and the data gathered
are key factors in the improvement of learning. However, it is equally
important to keep them under control to ensure the security of the data.

Data privacy guidelines and cybersecurity
measures should be in place to make sure that any benefits people stand to gain
from such technologies would not be at the expense of their safety and their
rights.

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