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Broad Congressional Proposal Would Raise Data Privacy Bar for Ed-Tech Companies

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Broad Congressional Proposal Would Raise Data Privacy Bar for Ed-Tech Companies

A recently released congressional proposal would trigger a swath of new requirements for how ed-tech companies handle K-12 student data they collect, and establish an independent auditing process for their data protection practices.

The drafter of the proposed measure, Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., is seeking input from ed-tech companies and other members of the K-12 community on what language should ultimately be included in final legislation she plans to introduce later this year.

The proposal suggests limiting usage of student data collected by education businesses in several ways, including prohibiting targeted advertising involving students’ personal information, and banning the sale of student data except in cases of company acquisitions and sales of test-score reports for college recruitment.

Trahan presented the proposed language to allow commercial transactions for test score data as one of several points of discussion for parents, educators, students, and industry, as her office works to craft a final bill sometime around early winter, she told EdWeek Market Brief in an interview.

Sale of test score data can be a contentious issue.

Privacy advocates often argue that assessment companies don’t thoroughly inform students and parents when selling data to colleges and scholarship providers. On the flip side, some civil rights advocates  assert that colleges’ purchases of test score data are useful for enrolling students from low-income school districts who may get overlooked by traditional recruitment efforts, Trahan noted.

“I believe that we can strike a thoughtful balance, and making this a point of discussion as we work on an updated draft of the legislation is key to achieving that,” she said.

Commenters have until Oct. 31 to provide input for final legislation to be introduced later this year.

In addition to prohibiting certain uses of student data, the draft legislation also outlines several allowable cases of student data disclosure for companies, including to ensure legal and regulatory compliance, participation in the judicial process, and research purposes allowed by federal or state law.

Trahan wants companies to share their views on the issue of allowable disclosure, including their experiences navigating state laws that trigger disclosure of student information, she said.

Small and midsize companies should also comment on the draft’s provision to establish “technology impact assessments” that examine the student-data collection practices of ed-tech companies, Trahan said.

The draft would task the Federal Trade Commission with organizing a process for technology impact assessments to be conducted by independent auditors of any education company deemed to host “high-risk” platforms for student data protection purposes.

Defining “High-Risk”

The draft bill defines several criteria for what would constitute “high-risk.”

Those  criteria include software platforms that pose a significant risk to privacy or security of students; store personal student information regarding race, national origin, political opinions, religion, sexual orientation, and criminal convictions; and, platforms that present the possibility of an inaccurate, unfair, biased, or discriminatory decision that impacts a student.

The independent technology impact assessments would be required to describe the data that companies collect, provide a risk analysis considering harms to students, discrimination, and accessibility; and, explain companies’ risk mitigation processes.

The draft bill identifies the provision for independent auditors to conduct technology impact assessments as a point of discussion for K-12 stakeholders to have in the leadup to a final bill.

Ed tech, including artificial intelligence-influenced ed tech, is not subject to the same certification requirements as other critical industries, such as the legal and accounting professions, which require many practitioners to undergo continuing education and outside auditing processes, Trahan said.

“Ideally, legislation like ours could provide the incentive to scholars and standards-making bodies to create a certified [ed tech] industry,” she said. “But you don’t arrive there until you hear from small and midsized companies so that we can understand the burden that may come with them hiring potentially expensive, and currently uncertified auditors.”

Though the draft bill  has not been formally introduced in Congress yet, Trahan hopes to work across party lines, as well as with lawmakers interested in relevant tech topics like AI, as her office draws up final legislation. Twenty-seven House lawmakers compose the bipartisan Congressional AI Caucus.

The draft measure is “extremely comprehensive,” and the public participation process will allow the K-12 community to address any potential gaps they might see in the legislation, said Ariel Fox, senior counsel for global policy at Common Sense Media.

Fox lauded the proposal for  establishing a formal process for external audits of companies’ data protection practices. In recent years, such provisions have generally been left out of ed-tech legislation proposed within the U.S.

The impact assessment provisions draw from language embedded in the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, and the UK’s Age Appropriate Design Code. Both of those regulations direct companies covered by the regulations to deeply vet how their software impacts users’ privacy.

“A concept that we see a lot in international laws is this notion that companies should really take a hard look at what they’re doing with data, what they’re collecting, why they’re collecting it,” Fox said. “It’s exciting to see that in her proposal as well.”

Image by Getty

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What Education Companies Should Know About How Kids Can Prosper in a Digital World

what education companies should know about how kids can prosper in a digital world
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A driving narrative during the pandemic has been that students suffered academically because remote and hybrid learning had to rely too much on the use of technology.

Companies have reacted by developing products and services to address so-called “learning loss” and other problems that evolved when most school buildings were fully or partially closed. That makes sense,…

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What Education Companies Should Know About How Kids Can Prosper in a Digital World

what education companies should know about how kids can prosper in a digital world
Exclusive Data digital books March10 2021 GettyImages 1288232603

A driving narrative during the pandemic has been that students suffered academically because remote and hybrid learning had to rely too much on the use of technology.

Companies have reacted by developing products and services to address so-called “learning loss” and other problems that evolved when most school buildings were fully or partially closed. That makes sense,…

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In Their Own Words: What Students Want From Ed-Tech Products

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EdWeek Market Brief talked with two tech-savvy students about where digital products meet their needs, and fall short.

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K-12 Dealmaking: GoGuardian Acquires Formative Assessment Platform; Tutoring Startup Becomes Europe’s Latest Unicorn

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GoGuardian, which provides a suite of classroom management and student safety solutions, has acquired Edulastic, the companies announced this week.

Edulastic describes itself as a next-generation formative online assessment platform that helps teachers quickly identify learning gaps, give students differentiated assignments to meet individual learning needs, and monitors students’ progress on the way to standards mastery.

The acquisition will advance Los Angeles-based GoGuardian’s mission to create the “ultimate learning platform,” the announcement says.

“Gauging student understanding is a vital element of effective teaching and learning. The Edulastic team has created sophisticated, data-driven solutions that provide teachers with real-time, actionable insights that support great teaching and improved outcomes,” GoGuardian co-founder and CEO Advait Shinde said in a statement. “We couldn’t be more excited to welcome the talented Edulastic team into the GoGuardian family.”

The companies estimate that the acquisition will allow their combined platform to reach one out of three K-12 students nationwide. GoGuardian already serves over 20 million students in more than 14 million schools, and Edulastic is used by more than 9 million students at more than 19,000 schools, according to the announcement.

“Since our founding, Edulastic has been on a mission to deliver insights that help teachers teach and help students learn,” Edulastic co-founder and CEO Madhu Narasa said in a statement. “GoGuardian is a natural fit that will accelerate our mission and expand our ability to serve educators, now and long into the future.”

The acquisition was led by GoGuardian and Sumeru Equity Partners, a technology-focused growth capital firm that first invested in GoGuardian in 2018. Edulastic is backed by early-stage venture capital firm Primera Capital.

Austrian tutoring startup announces investment, ‘unicorn’ status. After receiving a $244.4 million Series C investment led by DST Global, GoStudent announced it is Europe’s latest ed-tech unicorn and the highest-valued ed-tech company in Europe, according to an announcement.

The company is now valued at $1.7 billion, or €1.4 billion.

GoStudent, which is based in Vienna and provides one-to-one video-based online tutoring, also saw investments this round from SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Tencent, Dragoneer, Coatue, Left Lane Capital, and DN Capital.

The investment will be used to drive global expansion, according to the announcement. GoStudent is currently used in 15 countries, has expanded its team to more than 500 employees, and has opened 12 new offices, adding new locations in Athens, Istanbul, and Amsterdam.

The company aims to be present in over 20 countries by the end of 2021, planning to launch in Canada and Mexico this summer, and also intends to invest in branding, product development, and company acquisitions. GoStudent will also double its team to over 1,000 employees this year, the company said.

GoStudent grows by a rate of approximately 30 percent month-over-month, according to the announcement.

“At the heart of GoStudent is our mission to build the No. 1 Global School,” GoStudent co-founder and CEO Felix Ohswald said in a statement. “The new investment and the resulting opportunities for continued international growth bring us one step closer to fulfilling our mission.”

Apax Digital Fund invests in Revolution Prep. Private equity firm Apax Digital Fund will invest in online tutoring platform Revolution Prep, Apax announced.

The announcement doesn’t give a specific figure, but refers to the infusion as a “growth investment” that will allow Revolution Prep to expand its offering and increase access to world-class online tutoring.

The investment will enable Revolution Prep to make professional tutors available to more students in the U.S. and beyond, the announcement says. Over 1 million families have used the service.

“The pandemic has accelerated the shift from traditional to online learning and we’re continuing to see strong demand even as society is re-opening,” Revolution Prep CEO Matt Kirchner said in a statement. Apax Digital’s “investment will support an acceleration of our key growth priorities, including scaling up the more affordable small group tutoring format and the strategic expansion into the middle school tutoring segment, supporting families earlier in their academic journeys.”

Apax Digital Fund was attracted by Revolution Prep’s “cutting-edge” technology platform, longstanding partnerships with schools, and breadth and expertise of its tutors, Marcelo Gigliani, managing partner of Apax Digital said in a statement.

Lincoln International was the exclusive financial adviser to Revolution Prep in connection with the transaction.

ETS Strategic Capital and GSV Ventures invest in Degreed. Princeton, N.J.-based ETS Strategic Capital, the venture capital arm of research and assessment organization ETS, is joining GSV Ventures to invest in Degreed, a workforce upskilling company used by about one in three Fortune 50 companies, according to an announcement.

The investment is aimed to continue to advance and grow ETS’s educational business and mission through high-growth dealmaking, the announcement says.

San Francisco-based Degreed received a $153 million Series D funding round led by Sapphire Ventures and Riverwood Capital in April.

“Our investment in Degreed will help us to continue to leverage high-growth companies who are aligned to the business and mission of ETS and grow globally as an organization,” Ralph Taylor-Smith, managing director of ETS Strategic Capital, said in a statement. “The corporate learning, workforce development and reskilling/upskilling sector is a key new business growth area for ETS.”

The announcement cites a study by Statistia showing that $82.5 billion was invested in workplace training in the U.S. in 2020.

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How One Company Adapted Its PD for COVID and Beyond: A Case Study

how one company adapted its pd for covid and beyond a case study
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Achieve3000’s efforts during the pandemic offer a window into how education businesses have sought to overhaul support for teachers to suit virtual environments.

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The Challenge for Companies: Supporting Teachers in a Chaotic Era

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Businesses in the education market face new and unfamiliar obstacles in delivering product support and professional development that spans remote, hybrid, and in-person learning environments.

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Learning Loss During COVID Will Fuel Economic Losses, Business Leaders Predict

learning loss during covid will fuel economic losses business leaders predict
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The impact of learning loss during the pandemic won’t just be felt in the classroom. It could also saddle the future economy.

That was the core argument put forward recently by a group of eight business leaders from North Carolina, who made a public plea for state policymakers to address students’ academic slippage during COVID.

Among their recommendations, laid out at a recent online event, were for state policymakers to set up a recurring funding stream to train all of the state’s educators, and to move from a “student tutoring model” for literacy education to a model that supports educators based on the “science of reading.”

Reading proficiency among North Carolina 3rd graders slightly worsened during the pandemic.

According to a report last month by the (Raleigh) News & Observer, accounting for 67.7 percent of 3rd-grade students who had taken midyear assessments, 75.4 percent of 3rd graders were not reading at a proficient level, compared to 73.6 percent last school year.

“Let’s be clear: This is not just a North Carolina problem,” said Kelly King, chairman and CEO of Charlotte, N.C.-based Truist Financial Corp., a consumer and commercial bank holding company. “This is a national problem.”

The impact of learning loss does not appear to be hitting all U.S. school communities equally. A report released by McKinsey & Company in December found that there was a 10 percent drop in average K-5 reading levels among majority-white schools during COVID, but a 23 percent drop in average K-5 reading levels among minority-majority schools.

Another participant in the North Carolina event, Honeywell Chairman and CEO Darius Adamczyk, noted that COVID has likely accelerated the need for higher educational attainment, a demand that is unlikely to abate. Honeywell, headquartered in North Carolina, is a conglomerate with a heavy focus in aerospace and building technologies, among other industries.

Investing in early reading proficiency is integral to weathering a changing economy, and for students to gain education and skills to meet the needs of businesses, Adamczyk said.

“The recommendations we’re making today will address inequities in our workforce and help us develop a strong, diverse, and resilient talent pipeline well into the future,” he said.

In addition to recommending recurring state investments in teacher training in reading, the leaders called for North Carolina policymakers to maintain and even expand funding for pre-K access in the state and to eventually accomplish the goal of enrolling 75 percent of the state’s pre-K-eligible children, and to ensure that every county hits that benchmark.

The state currently funds pre-K programs at about $154 million per year.

Fred Whitfield, president and vice chairman of Hornets Sports & Entertainment, noted that about 9,100 fewer children enrolled in North Carolina pre-K for the 2020-2021 school year compared with the previous school year, eliminating all of the enrollment gains made in the state over the last four years.

Before COVID, enrollment in the state’s pre-K had topped 31,000 children — about 50 percent of the children eligible for the program statewide, he said. Now, pre-K programs in the state are serving only 36 percent of eligible children.

A Big Focus on Pre-K

“The drop in enrollment should not be viewed as a decrease in demand or need for North Carolina pre-K,” Whitfield said. “To the contrary, although we have much to overcome, this proven high-quality program, targeted at some of our most at-risk children, is needed now, more than ever.”

In addition to calling for more support for pre-K, the business leaders are asking state officials to inflation-adjust North Carolina’s pre-K funding for the first time in nine years, to require an annual such inflation adjustment, and to modify county-state cost sharing percentages to help economically disadvantaged counties cover program costs, Whitfield said.

During their presentation, the business leaders cited a 2016 CEO action plan to support improved U.S. literacy rates put forward by Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs at leading U.S. companies.

North Carolina business leaders were inspired by the action plan to initiate several pro-education initiatives, including creation of a comprehensive aligned education system for grades pre-K-3, as well as launching a data methodology to ensure that children stay on track to achieve reading proficiency, said Dale Jenkins, CEO of Raleigh, N.C.-based medical malpractice insurance provider Curi.

A “robust data system” is scheduled to roll out later this year, Jenkins said.

In 2017, the North Carolina General Assembly formed the Birth through Third Grade, or B-3, Interagency Council, which is a joint council between the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

The goal of the effort was to create a vision for a birth through 3rd-grade system of early education, and a system of accountability tied to it, including standards and assessment, data-driven improvement and outcomes, and teacher and administrator preparation and effectiveness.

“We’ve made progress on these goals through the B-3 Interagency Council that was created in 2017 to address these issues among others,” Jenkins said. “We applaud the General Assembly and the governor for moving this forward together.”

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Why Do Ed-Tech Products Soar in Some Districts, But Flop in Others?

why do ed tech products soar in some districts but flop in others
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The EdTech Genome Project aims to give districts more accurate, granular comparisons of what ed-tech products work in what kinds of schools.

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Keynote Speech by the ARIPO DG, Bemanya Twebaze, at the Opening Ceremony of ITP313c International Training Programme, “Intellectual property and Genetic Resources- in Support of Innovation”

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April 13, 2021

10-11 AM CEST

  • The Director General of the Swedish Intellectual Property Office (PRV), Mr Peter Stromback,
  • The Representative of the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Mr Daren Tang,
  • Representative of the Diplomatic Corps (from Beneficiary Country – TBD)
  • Deputy Director, Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative (SIANI), Mr. Matthew Fielding,
  • The Director of International Capacity Development and Senior Adviser for International Affairs for PRV, Mr Patrick Andersson
  • Senior Program Officer, CapDev, SIDA, Ms. Michelle Bouchard,
  • Participants of this ITP313c International Training Programme,
  • Distinguished ladies and gentlemen

It is indeed a great honor and privilege for me on behalf of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) and indeed on my own behalf to address this important virtual gathering marking the official launch of the Swedish flagship ITP313c International Training Programme, titled “Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources – in Support of Innovation.” ARIPO remains encouraged and inspired to supporting the ITP program and would like to join PRV, SIDA, WIPO and the other equally important partners in welcoming you, the participants of this program. 

ARIPO has noted how this program continued to be routinely rolled out over the years to empower many participants who would go back to their countries to drive necessary change in socio-economic development. We are thus pleased with all the efforts being made by PRV and SIDA in partnership with WIPO and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences towards ensuring that Africa’s critical needs in human resource development in the fields of innovation and intellectual property are addressed, as far as genetic resources are concerned.  Infusing innovation into farming through national policies and strategies will have tremendous benefits even to the small holder farmers.

I, therefore, express ARIPO’s sincere gratitude to the Director General of PRV, Mr Peter Stromback for the commendable support PRV is providing for this program. I further note with delight that African countries such as Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia are part of this important training. Incidentally, these and other African countries that participated in this program before, are Member States of ARIPO. I would not be so remiss as not to mention that ARIPO has also actually benefited from this training.

Your commitment in this noble enterprise is clearly evidenced by your tireless efforts to ensure that the program continues to be delivered even as the world is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. These are indeed difficult and unprecedented times. Notwithstanding that, your resolve to ensure that the program continues is something we do not take for granted.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The content of the training itself is so contemporary as it is engaging and exacting. It clearly moves from the familiar to the esoteric, while laying solid foundations for later learning. It is timely, it meets the needs of the participants at their respective offices, the needs of our countries and inevitably the needs of the global south. Essentially, it is more profound that this training is directed to policymakers with a mandate to implement changes relevant for intellectual property and innovation in genetic resources, back in their respective countries. The program structure and the full panoply of the modules, topics, case studies and site visits present us a model to learn from as we also deliver programs of a similar nature through ARIPO Academy.

Most of the countries represented here, and indeed the ARIPO region are looking for solutions towards improving economic growth, food security, poverty eradication and finding effective responses to stem climate change. These interventions are not only enshrined in Agenda 2030 of the United Nations, but they also form part of the tenets of Agenda 2063 as espoused by the African Union at a continental level. We therefore need all hands on-deck.

To a remarkable degree, the documented successes of this program speak volumes about the selection of its instructors. These are some of the finest minds in the industry. They bring a wealth of knowledge and experience which they are willing to share. I am particularly encouraged by the fact that these experts represent different stakeholders [which you will have direct dialogue with] in intellectual property and genetic resources as well as traditional knowledge. They will deliver lectures and participate in discussions and case studies as well as assist the participants with the research phase of the training – the country project. It is however noteworthy that in trainings such as this, sharing of experiences is what enriches the program. You are therefore requested to actively participate by sharing your experiences as they are equally valuable.

Distinguished participants,

Allow me to conclude my remarks with a word of encouragement. We are in the age where networks are everything, let alone networks at an international level. It is our desire that once you have completed this training, you continue to network and interact with each other so that you remain relevant to the IP development processes in your respective countries. You should play an active role in IP related activities. This includes providing sound advice to your countries on IP issues, to your farming communities, assisting with national IP audits, and as well as bringing about general awareness on the benefits of protecting and respecting IP Rights.

I say this with the conviction because I know that from this training, you will never be the same again. You will be able to learn that intellectual property is a cross-cutting discipline which spans the needs and perspectives of different stakeholders. It further broadens to delve into issues relating to public health, agriculture, biodiversity, trade and innovation, to mention but a few. As you can already imagine, all these issues come with international obligations by way of accessions and ratifications. As policymakers from your countries, you will be able to see that the insights derived from this training will be of tremendous application back in your respective places.

From the standpoint of ARIPO, I want to inform you that this program has encouraged many of its participants to contact us with the aim to enroll in our 3 Masters programs in Zimbabwe, Ghana and Tanzania to deepen their IP knowledge and specialize in different IP areas. You are therefore encouraged to do the same and take advantage of the scholarships that WIPO and ARIPO avail in the bid to develop IP for the continent of Africa.  As I recognize our brothers and sisters from the Asian continent here present, may they know that our programs attract applications from their region as well. Africa and Asia have many things in common. Please we welcome you any time.

Finally, I wish to reiterate my sincere gratitude to the institutions and organizations that continue to make this initiative a success. SIDA is very well known in almost all African countries. This is due to its bilateral development assistance and capacity development activities in areas of strategic importance to social, environmental and economic development. We cannot thank them enough. Through the PRV we hope to engage them further and point them in the direction of our IP training.

With these few remarks Director General Peter Stromback, I affirm ARIPO’s support to this training and wish for more fruitful engagements with PRV.

I THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR ATTENTION

Source: ARIPO (A DreamGalaxy Trusted Brand)