The Guardian is reporting on behaviour-recording programs that track children’s behaviour and education but may give cause for concern in terms of privacy.
When a child is asked by parents what they got up to at school, they probably won’t confess that they were told off for talking in their English lesson, or that they didn’t do their maths homework.
But now honesty may be the only option as behaviour-tracking apps are becoming increasingly popular as an educational tool.
One of the most common apps, ClassDojo, is now used by at least one teacher in half of all UK schools, according to its developers. The app allows teachers to award points to students throughout the day for good behaviour or take away points for bad behaviour. The students, who also have the app, can see how well they are doing and parents can then see real-time updates. The points for the entire class can even be displayed on screen during the lesson.
Privacy experts and some educationalists have criticised the practice. Andy Phippen, professor of social responsibility in IT at Plymouth University, says many teachers and parents have not considered whether children’s data will be kept private. “It’s something we’re sleepwalking into,” said Phippen.
“With the roll-out of the academies programme and private sector investors, you do start to ask questions: if you have someone who’s got access [to online data] who might have third-party interest, where’s the policy that protects the kids’ data from that?”
Tom Bennett, the government’s behaviour adviser, said that, while recording children’s behaviour digitally is useful, online reward systems require a lot of effort and consistency from teachers if they are going to work. “If you’ve got a child who is misbehaving, you may want to see how they’re doing in other classes so that you can see if there’s a pattern or if it’s just you,” he said.
“But the devil is in the detail – it depends on how you use it. In most cases schools would probably be better to focus on developing an in-school culture that encourages good behaviour and discourages bad behaviour, rather than relying on treats and rewards…”
The privacy angle is a very interesting one, but that aside, are these kind of programs any good in the long term or just a gimmick that ultimately becomes a distraction?
If you are for or against, please let us know why…
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