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Parents' Privacy Concerns Kill 'Personalized Learning' Initiative

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the we-care-too-much-about-our-kids-to-care-about-our-kids dept.

Education 93

theodp writes: "You may recall that inBloom is a data initiative that sought to personalize learning. GeekWire's Tricia Duryee now reports that inBloom, which was backed by $100 million from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others, is closing up shop after parents worried that its database technology was violating their children's privacy. According to NY Times coverage (reg.), the inBloom database tracked 400 different data fields about students — including family relationships ('foster parent' or 'father's significant other') and reasons for enrollment changes ('withdrawn due to illness' or 'leaving school as a victim of a serious violent incident') — that parents objected to, prompting some schools to recoil from the venture. In a statement, inBloom CEO Iwan Streichenberger said that personalized learning was still an emerging concept, and complained that the venture had been 'the subject of mischaracterizations and a lightning rod for misdirected criticism.' He added, 'It is a shame that the progress of this important innovation has been stalled because of generalized public concerns about data misuse, even though inBloom has world-class security and privacy protections that have raised the bar for school districts and the industry as a whole.' [Although it was still apparently vulnerable to Heartbleed.] Gates still has a couple of irons left in the data-driven personalized learning fire via his ties to Code.org, which seeks 7 years of participating K-12 students' data, and Khan Academy, which recently attracted scrutiny over its data-privacy policies."

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Good to hear there are reasonable parents left... (5, Interesting)

ffkom (3519199) | about 3 months ago | (#46818763)

... who refuse to feed the data krakens.

I already feared that every parent of today is on the "total surveillance" trip, teaching their children to kneel before their corporate overlords from their infancy.

But then again, maybe those parents were only concerned about the collecting of data associated with themselves, not their children...

The Snowden effect (2)

aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) | about 3 months ago | (#46818881)

Somebody has already cooked up a term for that: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

You're no longer paranoid. Being concerned about your privacy became just a wee bit more fashionable. Why surrender more data to Big Data that will only end up in the data dungeons of the three letter agencies?

For what benefit to the child? (3, Insightful)

Camael (1048726) | about 3 months ago | (#46820167)

FTA:-

It reports that the inBloom database could track 400 different data fields about students, including details such as family relationships, reasons for enrollment changes (such as sicknesses, or being a victim of a serious violent incident)

Wow. Sounds like a gross invasion of privacy. If I was the student, I wouldn't want my teacher to know that I was a "victim of a serious violent incident". Not to mention once this kind of data gets into a database, its pretty dang hard to get it permanently scrubbed. So, what do the students get out of giving away their personal details?

Over the last year, the incredibly talented team at inBloom has developed and introduced a technical solution that addresses the complex challenges that teachers, educators and parents face when trying to best utilize the student data available to them. That solution can provide a high impact and cost-effective service to every school district across the country, enabling teachers to more easily tailor education to students’ individual learning needs.

Do teachers really need all this information to teach effectively? Do teachers even have the time to prowl through these thick databases to "tailor" their teaching methods? And what's wrong with teachers getting this information they need the old fashioned way -by winning the trust and confidence of the student/parent and being told directly? And is the student's teacher the only one privy to this information?

Even more fundamentally, it is fair to pigeonhole the students, each of whom are unique individuals with their own feelings, drives, desires and motivations into anonymous datasets and discrete categories so that they can be dealt with by the numbers?

This initiative seems to have been very badly thought out. Humans are not machines.

Re:For what benefit to the child? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46821667)

The reason this would support teachers is due to the fact that teachers are having to access many different applications to do their jobs and these applications all used different data stores that rarely talked to each other. inBloom's code base (https://github.com/inbloom) shows that were acting as an encrypted centralized data point so that all data could be read and updated from one spot via applications that were authorized and enabled to do so by the school districts. This would allow teachers to efficiently access a holistic view of student's data but only what they were authorized to view. Since the data was encrypted against inBloom there was nothing they could do with the data. It was encrypted at the field level and the education agency had the only key.

Re:Good to hear there are reasonable parents left. (2)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 3 months ago | (#46818933)

Well, knowing that amount of information about the children extends well to the parents.

The organization response does appear to be tone-deaf. I wouldn't care if they had perfect security. I care about what they're going to do with the information.

Re:Good to hear there are reasonable parents left. (5, Insightful)

jopsen (885607) | about 3 months ago | (#46819057)

The organization response does appear to be tone-deaf. I wouldn't care if they had perfect security. I care about what they're going to do with the information.

Exactly... And being US based, you can't trust what they say anyway, because they can be legally order to lie to you.

It really, doesn't matter what they say... At the end of the day, the US doesn't have a legal framework to support safe use of private data for good, without risks that it may end up at NSA (or big insurance companies).

Closing this was the only way, given the current political landscape in the US big data is never safe.

Re:Good to hear there are reasonable parents left. (1)

sjames (1099) | about 3 months ago | (#46820433)

And beyond that, it doesn't matter what they say or how sincere they are today. Tomorrow they may unilaterally change the agreement without notice. Why the courts don't shred any contract claiming that right, I don't know.

Re:Good to hear there are reasonable parents left. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46820725)

US doesn't have a legal framework to support safe use of private data for good

What possible good comes from collecting a person entire life? If ti is for bettering their health that shit solely stays with a health care provider/doctor, which would bring your comment US doesn't have a legal framework to support safe use of private data for good back into the fray.

Two problems, the governments spying and collection of personal data including possible DNA, and advertisers.

I don't want to here some BS over bettering kids educations, when the only goals that hack Gates and the rest have is to create worker drones. Not to free up minds and better the f'in planet.

I'm not sure if this is a nation wide change, but in Pennsylvania their changing the report card grading, on top of the typical ABC, ect. The will use additional lettering, the lettering along with small memo descriptions that are underlining what subjects a child is doing well on, and which subjects he/she needs to improve on. Or what parts of a subject they are understanding and which parts their not.

  That keeps privacy in what we call the analog world, and it will help teachers/students/parents better understand how to "HELP' a student.

Re:Good to hear there are reasonable parents left. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46821179)

Exactly... And being US based, you can't trust what they say anyway, because they can be legally order to lie to you.

No.

They can be ordered to lie, and even intimidated with the threat of a legal procedure.
That doesn't mean that it is legal in any way.

Re:Good to hear there are reasonable parents left. (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 3 months ago | (#46819675)

They retained the right to sell information to third parties. So that data on your child that you couldn't opt out of giving inBloom could go to some marketing agency so they could sell something better to your child.

Re:Good to hear there are reasonable parents left. (2)

Camael (1048726) | about 3 months ago | (#46820207)

I'm sure the data will be of interest to any individual or organization targeting vulnerable children, and their fearful parents.

Some possibilities off the top of my head:-

Quacks selling miracle cures for sick children.
Organisations selling therapy/schemes/camps/training for out of control children.
Quasi-religious entities recruiting impressionable members.
Criminal organizations seeking malleable stooges.
Adults seeking children with less adult supervision for more nefarious activities.

In contrast, marketing would be the least of my concerns, actually.

Re:Good to hear there are reasonable parents left. (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 3 months ago | (#46824829)

Given that the uploaded data would have included IEP information (including medical diagnoses), disciplinary information, and even teen pregnancy information, all those would have been possible.

Of course, InBloom has been shut down but some of the data had been uploaded. What happened to that data? Who has it now and will it be deleted or used for "other purposes"?

Re:Good to hear there are reasonable parents left. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46821703)

A lie. They did not retain the right to sell it to 3rd parties. It is illegal to do so.

Re:Good to hear there are reasonable parents left. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46823817)

Yes you are lying...

From here https://www.inbloom.org/privacy-security-policy.html

The privacy and security provisions in this Policy do not apply by the terms of this Policy to Customers' contractors and Third Party Application Providers.

"Personally Identifiable Information" (or "PII") means any information defined as personally identifiable information under FERPA. The personally identifiable information of teachers and other educators will also be treated as PII under this Policy. Some identifying information of teachers and other educators (such as name, role, subjects taught, and similar publicly available school-related information) may be made available through inBloom to Customers and Third Party Application Providers solely for the educational purposes of inBloom.

Re:Good to hear there are reasonable parents left. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46826293)

Where does it say anything about selling data? Isn't that illegal for them to do under Federal law? Also those Contractors and Third Party Application providers are authorized by the Customer so ultimately it is still the Customer (school,district, etc) who dictates who gets access, not inBloom. So again if you have a problem with where your information is going talk to your school. inBloom was never at fault, in my eyes, in that they did the right thing. They were never about controlling the policies of school districts and education agencies. Notice also that it says already "publicly available school related information" so if it already publicly available then why find fault with inBloom's privacy policy?

Re:Good to hear there are reasonable parents left. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46826155)

No actually they didn't. This is against the law. They cant even if they wanted to.

Re:Good to hear there are reasonable parents left. (3, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 3 months ago | (#46819027)

I agree that it is good to hear.

I would also add that it is actually dirt simple for companies to assure "security" of this kind of personal data: all they have to do is not collect it in the first place.

Re:Good to hear there are reasonable parents left. (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 3 months ago | (#46820191)

So they got caught with their pants down, okay. Not the first group this happened to.

It would be better to hear their logic for collecting this data to begin with. If they wanted personalized learning, I'm pretty sure a student ID unique to each student make more sense than gathering data on parents, their partners, reasons they missed class, etc...?

If they really and truly only wanted to help personalize learning why not trim off the data people took issue with? They obviously wanted that data more than they want to really wanted help people.

Re:Good to hear there are reasonable parents left. (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 3 months ago | (#46824619)

It would be better to hear their logic for collecting this data to begin with. If they wanted personalized learning, I'm pretty sure a student ID unique to each student make more sense than gathering data on parents, their partners, reasons they missed class, etc...?

Yeah, cause you can tell so much about a person by an arbitrarily assigned ID. The ID tells you all you need to know about what kinds of learning materials might work best for someone, or what wouldn't be appropriate. Yeah, you know from the ID that a child is in a single parent home so you might want to tailor the material towards examples that he will be familiar with (because you also know that the student is a boy from his student ID.)

And when the next arbitrarily assigned ID shows up on the system, you can tell from just the ID that this girl (which you know because of the ID, of course) is in a similar situation as half a dozen other students (which you know by just matching IDs, of course) and would be better served by materials similar to the ones that work well for them.

The whole concept of personalized education is that YOU NEED TO KNOW THINGS ABOUT THE PERSON YOU ARE EDUCATING so you can, you know, personalize it. In the Good Old Days of single room schoolhouses the teacher knew every student and the parents and kept a database in his head. In the online world that means the database is ...

They obviously wanted that data more than they want to really wanted help people.

Yeah. Obvious. It couldn't be because the entire concept of what they were doing is based on knowing things about the student so they can, you know, personalize the education.

The standardized testing systems are being criticized because they assume a common cultural knowledge and some students don't do well because they don't have that experience. An impersonal test asks Billy the farmer's son the same kind of story problems it asks Martha the single-mom-in-the-tenement-house's daughter. If you're going to remove those biases in the tests (and in the education behind them) you need to know "where does Billy/Martha live?", "parents?", "income?", etc.

Re:Good to hear there are reasonable parents left. (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 3 months ago | (#46826631)

You are telling me it's impossible to gauge someone's knowledge or tailor learning to something like testing and progression, and you have to know who a kids parent is sleeping with? Seriously, hold that thought a minute.

Hahaha, haha, hahahaha, OMFG! Hahahaha.

Okay, sorry. Have a nice day sir.

Re:Good to hear there are reasonable parents left. (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#46819155)

Well, I think the problem with a lot of people not being concerned about privacy is because, we've all already had our data stolen. Most people didn't even know it was a "thing" until it was too late. Kind of like going to church or exercising. As an adult you think back "I wish I had gone to church or exercised instead of doing all that coke and killing that hooker... hey... I could make my kid do it the right way though!" and viola...

Re:Good to hear there are reasonable parents left. (2)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 3 months ago | (#46819663)

We were fighting it like crazy and it was our kids' data we were concerned about. One of the big problems was that it wasn't opt-in. It wasn't even opt-out. It was "the government has decreed that parents aren't allowed to opt out." So you couldn't make an informed decision about InBloom. Your child's data was going there whether you liked it or not. Add in the fact that InBloom stated that they would release the data to "third parties" and you can see why parents like my wife and I were fighting it as much as we could.

We were happy to hear that InBloom was being shut down. The only problem with the shut down? What about the data that was already uploaded? Who is getting that and what are they going to use it for?

Re:Good to hear there are reasonable parents left. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46821727)

Fact. Data on inBloom's data service was encrypted against inBloom. There is nothing they could do with the data since they couldn't read it without the keys held by the education agencies. So even if they didn't completely scrub the data from the systems (which I am sure they were contractually required to do) the data would be useless to them since they couldn't read it.

Just leave. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46834493)

The best way you Americans can fight this shit is to just pack your shit and move to another country. Every time you pay your taxes it goes towards all kinds of things like this. Just go.

Re:Good to hear there are reasonable parents left. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46821601)

Interesting comment, but I think there is one fact to get straight on around inBloom... inBloom's data service was set up so that the data was encrypted against inBloom via keys held by the school districts or education agencies. So how were they going to mine student data if they couldn't read it? Even metadata except for who accessed the student data and when would be relatively unavailable to them. Their code base is open source so you can see how they were encrypting it against themselves and that there were no mechanisms for exporting the data that were unencrypted unless you had that special key to unlock it.

Re:Good to hear there are reasonable parents left. (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 3 months ago | (#46822355)

These parents are idiots. I found their kids on Facebook, as well as the candy van stalkers that have been trying to meet up with them.

Unions strike again (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46818771)

Spread FUD against anything that isn't union approved, just like they did with Udacity, often ignoring data or outright lying.

Re:Unions strike again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46819357)

Projection?

Bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46818775)

Parents have shown times and times again that they do not know what's best for the children, always living in their past thinking only the way they were bought up is good and everything else is junk.

Re:Bad... (1, Troll)

flyneye (84093) | about 3 months ago | (#46818833)

Spoken like a clueless teen, right down to the diction.In your case , you are probably right.
The rest of the world recalls what works and what doesnt. The newer ways, tailored to fit the convenience of teachers, board , the few liberal parents and now a data collection scam dressed as a Gates Charity, do not work, did not work and will not work. Bringing the focus back to the student, adopting the ways of schools from the 1930s to the 1950s and only updating newer facts for texts is going to be THE SOLUTION. Dont forget, eliminate unions and tenure, relax the need for teaching degrees and allow degrees from other fields to teach, then we will get somewhere besides the worst schools in the world.

Re:Bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46821679)

Spoken like an idiot right-wing moron. The symptoms are pretty obvious: dismissing thoughts and ideas based on the (perceived) age of the author, initiating ad hominem attacks, and of course seeking utterly simple answers to complex problems.

Tell me, does the anti-union rhetoric just spew out of your clueless mouth automatically, or do you bother to figure out that teachers are just as fed up with education departments, school boards, and (especially) administrators, all of whom seem to have yet another fad du jour that doesn't work and which prevents them from actually doing their jobs? Do you include "recognize teachers as professionals and pay them appropriately" with your "eliminate unions and tenure" crap? Somehow that seems to be missing. I'm sure it was just an oversight... For everyone else: the purpose of tenure is to shield people in certain jobs from organized groups of nitwits (usually misinterpreting their own religion to suit their anger) who disagree with what that person has to say. It's to promote individualism over group-think, which is kind of curious since the right wing usually espouses that themselves while doing quite the opposite.

On a serious note: teaching facts is important. Getting rid of useless gibberish from the curriculum is important. I'm not a teacher but I know more than an average amount, and every single one of them would desperately like their idiot management to just stop teaching to tests and start doing their jobs. The most important thing a teacher can do is teach someone how to think. That last is dangerous: it suits neither the corporate nor the religious agenda in this country. It's also hard to do. You need good inspiring people to do that, and you need to pay them well, which also doesn't suit the corporate agenda in this country. If public schools were effective (or the drumbeat perception of ineffectiveness were removed) by actual reforms along those lines, the influence of religious schools would also decline, so improving the schools does not suit that agenda either.

As always, the right wing talks a good show, but even when placed in power their only responses to education are to make educators more miserable, imposed more for-profit ineffective standardized testing, and of course to throw tax money at religious schools without regard to effectiveness and without regard to whether said schools are of the type that really seriously try to turn out educated people or are the type who just want more mindless followers.

Adopting the ways of schools from the 1930s to the 1950s is kind of easy: all we have to do is bomb the rest of the industrialized world to rubble so we're the only mechanized power, institute the exclusion of certain races/religions/ etc., move the application of arbitrary rules and punishments from the school board to the local schools, suppress any sign of dissent or being different, and of course redo our economy such that if you get kicked out of school for offending somebody's sensibilities that you can still actually find a job to support yourself. Simple answers to very complex problems are, as always, absurd and useless, and a hallmark of conservative thinking in the US these days.

Re:Bad... (1)

flyneye (84093) | about 3 months ago | (#46831361)

Sit down son, Ill dismiss thoughts from fools based on my experience and observation. This includes dipshits like you spouting lefty regurgitation without a thought as to what you are saying. I notice you were too squeamish to do this with your account. Why should I take you seriously at all? Are you afraid you might get modded down for your silly tantrum? You may even feel silly to find that I am not right wing. I just live in a REAL world where children are undereducated by spoiled fuckheads more concerned about their own quality of life than doing their job, in a country that puts more into education and gets less out of it than anywhere in the world. We are on the bottom and it is dipshits like you that keep us there.

Shortage or not, it may be time to separate the teachers from the slackers. Unions may work for teachers, but the power of the union works against the children for whom the schools are about. Unions add unnecessary costs to goods and services and contribute significantly to inflation. Most of us work jobs in which we are hired and work AT WILL. Do you know what that means? It means we have to do our jobs and be satisfactory workers or we lose our job. Consequently, we do a good job and care. Not so with Union babies, there is always the promise of litigation adding to already overrun costs, quality goes down, in this case it affects childrens education. Tenure is too stupid to discuss.

If you do not like working a teaching job with no more security than the majority of the population, perhaps you should have realized that teaching probably is not the easy cop out job you thought it was. You cant foist the problem off on curriculum as being too hard for students, we have the mushiest curriculum in the world thanks to the Teachers associations, who actually have a say.

        Adopting the older methods of teaching ensures children will get a superior education to the ones you an I had. If you cannot grasp that, there is no reason to create a cartoon scenario to cover your ignorance as in your post. Our grandparents and even parents had FAR more knowledge pumped into their skulls than the current situation is even prepared to do. They also had discipline and virtually no violence. Troublemakers were even expelled from public school and LEFT BEHIND, which is alright, because the world always needs cheap manual labor and no drag on the students who WILL learn and cooperate with educational programs. Slow students were held back to try again to learn required material, this wasnt a social issue, it was an educational issue. We didnt sacrifice the students who WANTED an education to lighten the load for some future gangbanger and improve statistics for newsmedia and other liars. We used to educate.

Perhaps you should review your feeble spew and quit imagining you know anything about the world. You only seem to know what youre told to say by your peers.

Unions strike again (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46818779)

Spread FUD against anything that isn't union approved. Just like they tried with Udacity- ignore data or spread outright lies.

If Gates Wants Our Kids? (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 3 months ago | (#46818807)

He can grow 'em in tanks, for his personal slave army.

Good news (3)

JohnFen (1641097) | about 3 months ago | (#46818821)

Every so often, a little glimmer of good news comes my way. This would be one of them!

Re:Good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46820213)

Every so often, a little glimmer of good news comes my way. This would be one of them!

And how many of those people are OK with their kid's school automatically signing them up for Google or Microsoft account for their school domain then forcing all the work to be done in the online docs/whatever tools? I'd say Google is probably worse, since they are known to be in the business of selling targeted advertising (which means creating detailed profiles about behaviours).

How many even know?

That reminds me, I have to go and complain to my local member because I just found out my son's school domain is hosted on Google and he's been forced to use it at school without any parental consent to sharing his data with Google. Complaints to the school fall on deaf ears.

Re:Good news (1)

JohnFen (1641097) | about 3 months ago | (#46823993)

And how many of those people are OK with their kid's school automatically signing them up for Google or Microsoft account for their school domain then forcing all the work to be done in the online docs/whatever tools?

I don't know, but I would absolutely, and vocally object. And refuse to allow my child to comply.

Won't let my kid be ID'ed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46818855)

Won't let my kid be ID'ed. No law says I have to get my kid an ID. Nor a social security number. Nor lots of other things. School may be required, but letting the school ID my child is not one of them.

Re:Won't let my kid be ID'ed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46819289)

Then i guess you home school your children. Every student has an ID and guess what... your data is already given to a lot of different vendors besides inBloom.

So? Fix it. (4, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 3 months ago | (#46818925)

'It is a shame that the progress of this important innovation has been stalled because of generalized public concerns about data misuse,'

OK, so quit whining and fix it. Go talk to Bill and Melinda and ask them to fund some lobbying to get privacy laws with sharp teeth put in place. Simple laws that say something like, "Any company says they won't abuse your data gets shut down and all their assets siezed if they sell, transfer, share with a parter, or in any other way distribute your data, or if they sell the use of your data as a service, or use your data for any purpose or in any way other than what is explicitly stated on the front page of their web site, above the fold, in bold 14 point type."

All we want is to be able to trust you. Since it would be silly to trust an American company that didn't have its financial ass on the line, what we need is for your financial future to be directly coupled to you doing what you claim you were going to do anyway. Put your money where your mouth is; if you're not trying to pull something, it won't cost you a thing.

Re:So? Fix it. (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 3 months ago | (#46818997)

"Any company says they won't abuse your data gets shut down and all their assets siezed if they sell, transfer, share with a parter, or in any other way distribute your data, or if they sell the use of your data as a service, or use your data for any purpose or in any way other than what is explicitly stated on the front page of their web site, above the fold, in bold 14 point type."

The ultimate poison pill for any startup company. This would effectively prohibit any future funding or merger. "Gee, guys, you have a great idea and we'd love to buy you out to bring your idea to a larger audience, but our lawyers won't let us assume the liability of dealing with your data."

Re:So? Fix it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46819043)

"our lawyers won't let us assume the liability"

Mission Accomplished.

Not just startups (1)

Camael (1048726) | about 3 months ago | (#46820249)

The ultimate poison pill for any startup company. This would effectively prohibit any future funding or merger. "Gee, guys, you have a great idea and we'd love to buy you out to bring your idea to a larger audience, but our lawyers won't let us assume the liability of dealing with your data."

You're overlooking the fact that if there was such a law, it would apply to everyone, not just startups. Want to deal with existing established companies? Same problem. So now you have the interesting choice of either accepting the risk, or leaving the market entirely.

And there will be some companies who are willing to accept the risk, provided the rewards are commensurate.

Re:Not just startups (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 3 months ago | (#46824711)

And there will be some companies who are willing to accept the risk, provided the rewards are commensurate.

The final result of this will be both less competition in the market and higher prices. A win-win for the consumer.

I actually wasn't overlooking the application to existing companies, I was just making the point stronger by showing how it would stifle innovation and creativity.

Re:So? Fix it. (1)

sjames (1099) | about 3 months ago | (#46820455)

They could always purge the data. If the new buyer has any desire to use the data in a way that wasn't part of the deal when the user provided it, it's the only proper thing to do anyway.

Of course, those investors have the money burning a hole in their pocket. If they don't invest it, it will inflate itself away. Everything they might want to invest in is operating under that same law, so they might as well choose the same way they are now.

Re:So? Fix it. (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 3 months ago | (#46824801)

They could always purge the data.

And the DATA, along with the USE to provide personalized learning, IS THE VALUE OF THE COMPANY. If you have to delete the data to sell the company, or merge it with another technology firm to enhance the products, then the company loses a lot of its value and this provision becomes, just like I said, a poison pill.

And before you rant on about use of this data, I'm saying it is going to be used for EXACTLY THE REASON IT WAS COLLECTED.

If the new buyer has any desire to use the data in a way that wasn't part of the deal when the user provided it,

If the new buyer has ANY desire to use the data for the same purpose it was collected for, he can't.

Of course, those investors have the money burning a hole in their pocket. If they don't invest it, it will inflate itself away.

So you think someone is going to pay a lot of money for a company that immediately loses all its value when the data it needs to function is purged? Don't be stupid. And the people who created the company who are trying to sell it won't be able to sell it for what it is truly worth, so they lose big time.

The investors will simply go somewhere else, buying companies who won't have to delete all their user data and make themselves worthless. And the entrepreneurs will get shafted.

Re:So? Fix it. (1)

sjames (1099) | about 3 months ago | (#46825859)

And before you rant on about use of this data, I'm saying it is going to be used for EXACTLY THE REASON IT WAS COLLECTED.

And they are willing to back that with a contract where changes in terms are explicitly forbidden, right? Because all I see are vague statements that aren't even promises.

I really don't care if the company has any resale value or not. I'm more concerned that they not collect kids' data under color of government (since school is compulsory) and then change management and sell it to the highest bidder. If they can't make a go of it under that constraint, we're better off without them.

If they would like to not purge the data, they will have to honor the terms the data was collected under.

Re:So? Fix it. (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 3 months ago | (#46821501)

The ultimate poison pill for any startup company. This would effectively prohibit any future funding or merger. "Gee, guys, you have a great idea and we'd love to buy you out to bring your idea to a larger audience, but our lawyers won't let us assume the liability of dealing with your data."

It's only a poison pill for companies who's business model is to cyberstalk people. Everyone else can simply not collect and record personally idenfiable data. And the stalkers should be poisoned and hopefully killed in utero.

Re:So? Fix it. (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 3 months ago | (#46824855)

It's only a poison pill for companies who's business model is to cyberstalk people.

You are so wrong that it's remarkable. It's a poison pill for any company that needs customer data to operate. The ultimate example is this one, where data is needed so the education can be personalized and similarities in student backgrounds can be leveraged into better education for all of them. This company wasn't cyberstalking anyone.

Everyone else can simply not collect and record personally idenfiable data.

So you have the same idea that spetry did, that a student can log in with his student ID and magically the system will know what learning material to provide to it. I say "it" because gender is a personally identifiable bit of data, and we dare not keep that or you'll start shouting "cyberstalker!".

Re:So? Fix it. (2)

jopsen (885607) | about 3 months ago | (#46819083)

Simple laws that say something like, "Any company says they won't abuse your data gets shut down and all their assets siezed

What does it matter?
The company could put that in the EULA...

But what would it change. Even if the company is truly nice, and truly wants to do honor it's agreement. It can be force to disclose data to the NSA and not talk about it.
Even, if there was a law, there would be a secret law circumventing it. In the current political landscape this isn't far fetched.
In fact it's naive to think things like this don't take place.

Re:So? Fix it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46819211)

'It is a shame that the progress of this important innovation has been stalled because of generalized public concerns about data misuse,'

OK, so quit whining and fix it. Go talk to Bill and Melinda and ask them to fund some lobbying to get privacy laws with sharp teeth put in place. Simple laws that say something like, "Any company says they won't abuse your data gets shut down and all their assets siezed if they sell, transfer, share with a parter, or in any other way distribute your data, or if they sell the use of your data as a service, or use your data for any purpose or in any way other than what is explicitly stated on the front page of their web site, above the fold, in bold 14 point type."

All we want is to be able to trust you. Since it would be silly to trust an American company that didn't have its financial ass on the line, what we need is for your financial future to be directly coupled to you doing what you claim you were going to do anyway. Put your money where your mouth is; if you're not trying to pull something, it won't cost you a thing.

In the end that would be no more enforceable than the state law that said municipal debts to their workers' pension funds must be paid 100% before any debts to Big Banks. When it comes to bankruptcy court any asset can be sold and any debt can be voided to help get the bankruptee back on their feet ... except student loan debt.

Re:So? Fix it. (2)

nbauman (624611) | about 3 months ago | (#46819619)

'It is a shame that the progress of this important innovation has been stalled because of generalized public concerns about data misuse,'

Actually, the biggest problem with InBloom is that collecting all this data didn't have any benefit that teachers or parents could recognize. If they like data so much, why didn't they get data to show that students actually benefit from big data before they rolled it out? Here's the best comment at the NYT:

Kate Delaware

I'm sure there are other examples of how inBloom intended their service to be used, and maybe some of them were kind of cool, but the one pictured in the article is absurd. As a teacher, I don't need lots of data about whether students show enthusiasm before I make my seating charts. The kids are right there in the room with me. I can tell. Also, what do those numbers even mean? How can someone be 67% enthusiastic? Furthermore, I don't necessarily want to know before I start teaching a student whether he was a "bad kid" or a "good kid" in previous classes, because having a new teacher is (and should be) a fresh start. Finally, where does the pictured information come from? Is it one more data-entry job for the teacher? At what frequency? Are teachers supposed to sit down weekly and enter character scores into the computer?

Re:So? Fix it. (1)

guises (2423402) | about 3 months ago | (#46819685)

I think the mistake here is in allowing companies to set their own privacy policies.

Its easy to keep both (3, Interesting)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 3 months ago | (#46818941)

Don't give them your data... have them give you the engine.

Then you feed the data into it locally, and it generates a customized learning profile which is anonymoized.

Then you anonymously download profile XJ2221LP4-123 whatever and then you get the best of both worlds.

Why are people so stupid... its so fucking easy.

Re:Its easy to keep both (1)

SumDog (466607) | about 3 months ago | (#46819073)

In this situation it's not that easy. I have the feeling they're trying to aggregate data across a lot of different school systems to understand what is happening and create papers and reports people can use. Decentralized engines won't help achieve that. Even with anonymous IDs, you still need to track students, and really each student in a family (to judge family trends) and that ID has so much of their other information that it could be traversed back to the individual.

Re:Its easy to keep both (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 3 months ago | (#46819261)

My idea has them getting NO data at all. You don't give them your data. Rather, THEY give you the engine. Your data stays local on your machine the whole time.

And from that you figure out your education profile and get the kind of education you need.

All they get are download statistics. I suppose they could compare IP addresses to figure out which student downloaded which selection of courses but that won't give lots of personal information. You can infer personal information but it will be fussy information.

Re:Its easy to keep both (1)

sjames (1099) | about 3 months ago | (#46820487)

Not to mention it totally screws up the marketing plans. How are they going to help marketers target individual children when they have anonymized data?

Re:Its easy to keep both (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46820959)

You're the stupid one. Try reading terms of usage once in a while. What you are suggesting explicitly breaks them.

Re:Its easy to keep both (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 3 months ago | (#46821323)

Explain terms of usage. If I made an error, I'd like to be corrected in a way that I won't make it again.

Irony.. (2)

aevan (903814) | about 3 months ago | (#46818945)

...how many of these 'concerned parents' are spewing that same data daily over facebook, without a care?

Tangentially related: the other day, my neighbour called up her niece concerned - facebook update informed her that both she and her mother had went to a hospital, and had been there for a few hours. The niece's opening response: "who told you?". She was convinced someone blabbed, when all along was 'use geolocation services' or some such on their phones. They simply had no idea what information they were freely handing out. Have to wonder if some kids had tried to sneak into a bar before, only for their phones to rat them out.

Excuse me while guesstimate the hypocrisy inherent in them refusing something that actually might be of (good) use.

Bad logic (2)

Camael (1048726) | about 3 months ago | (#46820285)

...how many of these 'concerned parents' are spewing that same data daily over facebook, without a care?
  She was convinced someone blabbed, when all along was 'use geolocation services' or some such on their phones. They simply had no idea what information they were freely handing out.

You contradict yourself. First you claim that the parents spew data "without a care". But in your example, the niece clearly did care about the loss of data, she was simply technologically inept at securing her phone.

And, even that is understandable. Frankly speaking, can you honestly claim that you know and approve of every bit of data that leaves your phone? That you are fully conversant and familiar with the multitude of information that is being broadcasted from your phone, right this minute, by the OS, the various apps, the underlying hardware itself?

Hypocrisy is also evident when you accuse others of sins being committed by yourself.

Re:Bad logic (1)

aevan (903814) | about 3 months ago | (#46825615)

Yes, I can, because I don't own a smart phone, and expressly for those reasons. I also don't post pics of relatives or give out information of their behaviours online, with OR without their permission. No twitting, no facebooking, no blogging of habits. There is no hypocrisy here. [Not exactly material, but I've also jailbroken and secured phones for friends: I am conversant with the tech, merely have no use for it personally].

No, I don't contradict, because they NORMALLY give up their information freely (posts, pics, updates) and it's gotten so prevalent they aren't even cognizant that they do so anymore. As I said, it's tangentially related, not directly. It isn't that she didn't secure her phone, it's that she let her phone give her information out all the time, and had gotten so used to it as to forget that it did so. Afterwards she didn't turn it off, she was FINE with that feature. Starting to believe the phrase 'overshare' is disappearing from the lexicon.

DIRECTLY my point was regarding the the mass of 'johhny's first communion' 'jack scoring in little league' 'my kids at the hotel pool' 'katey's report card'...a wealth of shared data. Yet, the moment an institution asks for it (as opposed to just collects it online by itself), that information is sacrosanct. The data (or at least a decent portion) is out there to be collected, but a formalised request for it, one that could possibly be of actual benefit for the target, makes it a knee-jerk bad.

Do note I'm saying 'could' and not 'would', as I'll make no claims on that. Personalising education to the child would be beneficial...provided was done with the child's interest and not some political/corporate agenda.

Re:Bad logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46825659)

Quibble: expressly -> 'I have no use for the extra features and so find securing the phone and such a pointless waste of time for me'. Might not been the best choice of words to use there.

Re:Bad logic (1)

Camael (1048726) | about 3 months ago | (#46838319)

Yes, I can, because I don't own a smart phone, and expressly for those reasons. I also don't post pics of relatives or give out information of their behaviours online, with OR without their permission. No twitting, no facebooking, no blogging of habits.

Fair enough, but even you must recognize that that your standards are rather extreme and far from the norm. And I suspect unacceptable to the majority of people. Its the same as preaching total abstinence from sex as the cure for AIDS - it definitely works, but most people won't do it.

No, I don't contradict, because they NORMALLY give up their information freely (posts, pics, updates) and it's gotten so prevalent they aren't even cognizant that they do so anymore. As I said, it's tangentially related, not directly. It isn't that she didn't secure her phone, it's that she let her phone give her information out all the time, and had gotten so used to it as to forget that it did so. Afterwards she didn't turn it off, she was FINE with that feature.

You are arguing that because she normally spills her personal data on Facebook, she deserves to have it spilled through geolocation without her knowledge. Which seems unfair. You said that shes not tech savvy, does she even know what ticking on the geolocation box does? Is it fair to put all the burden of securing their data on the users, when the companies that provide services go out of their way to make it difficult for their users to hide their data [consumerreports.org] ?

Under a settlement that Facebook signed with the Federal Trade Commission last year, it was barred from making misrepresentations about the privacy or security of consumers’ personal information. It also agreed to obtain users’ consent before making changes that override their privacy preferences, among other things.

The data (or at least a decent portion) is out there to be collected, but a formalised request for it, one that could possibly be of actual benefit for the target, makes it a knee-jerk bad.

This is why we need strong privacy laws. Just because personal data is easy to harvest and collect and use does not mean it should be allowed.

This could have been good... (1)

ilsaloving (1534307) | about 3 months ago | (#46818963)

But the simple fact that between US corporations and the US government, privacy abuses have been so bad (although admittedly still better than some other countries) that there is no chance people would willingly opt into any such system. Even if the current incarnation is honest, there is 0% chance that it will stay that way, for one reason or another.

Everyone older than a teenager should remember the whole Google 'do no evil' thing, and many of us honestly hoped that they would stay that way. Unfortunately, reality had a way of crushing Google's desires to be honest and innocent, and to make a long story short they now they play hard ball just like everybody else.

The idea is great. But the reality would have never worked. Just like both Communism and Democracy.

Re:This could have been good... (1)

jopsen (885607) | about 3 months ago | (#46819117)

privacy abuses have been so bad (although admittedly still better than some other countries)

Out of curiosity: which countries do you think of? :)

Even stasi, east german secret policy during the cold war, didn't conduct surveillance at the scale as US government.


Considering credit card penetration in the US, etc. I would suspect you have better privacy in China. Though, you right to disagree might be slightly reduced :)

Re:This could have been good... (1)

ilsaloving (1534307) | about 3 months ago | (#46861231)

I replied, but something happened to my connectivity just as I was about to hit submit.

The only reason places like East Germany didn't, is because they couldn't. They didn't have this level of technology back then. Not to mention, you didn't have an entire population of people stupid enough to vomit every intimate detail of their private lives onto the internet.

Now? Oh, they'd have a total field day. Given the way Russia has been going lately, I wouldn't be surprised if they started, assuming they haven't been doing so already and were just able to hide it better than the US.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if most countries were taking steps in this direction, just because it's so easy to do now.

Schools are operated by cowards (4, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | about 3 months ago | (#46818971)

First of all, the summary is misleading. It wasn't parents that "shut this down" (and that would simply happen by parents not utilizing the service in the first place). It was the governments that own and operate the schools. The passed laws that will not allow the schools to share the data in the first place. Big difference. Especially since there was no breach. Nothing "bad" happened to warrant this ruling.

Whether this has always the case, or is simply more apparent in this day and age, I'm not sure. But at this point in time, public schools are operated by cowards. I'm talking about the school boards and superintendents who operate the school districts at the highest levels (where these kinds of decisions are made). I'm talking about everything from their policies regarding "threats" (like how you hear in the news about 10 year olds being suspended from school [cnn.com] because they made their fingers into the shape of a gun and made a sound), to locking down schools with video cameras at the entrances so parents have to show their ID and be buzzed in just to have lunch with their child. An event happens at one school in the entire nation, and suddenly that is somehow a realistic threat to that every other school in the nation too. It's because those operating the schools at the highest levels are cowards. They say they have "zero tolerance" for many things now (like the whole "gun" threat nonsense), which really means "We absolve ourselves from having to think or make decisions in any way, so that we, the school board, have zero liability at all in the event, no matter how remote, that something bad happens at our schools." Cowards .

Now this whole inBloom thing, whether a good idea or not, is dead because of those cowards. Parents no longer have this option, in the 21st century, to simply consolidate their children's educational data to a single 3rd party service. Why? Because school officials, in their fear and ignorance, assume that somehow it's all going to be breached - and here's the key part - and that they will be responsible and bear some degree of liability.

Parent groups shut this down (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46819091)

Being close to this whole mess, I can tell you that it was parent and union advocacy groups that shut down InBloom, not districts or schools. The privacy activists worked with sympathetic legislators to kill this. Schools and districts had a range of opinions from strongly opposed to strongly supporting. It was the vocal, minority activism of a small group of NY citizens working with their legislators that killed this thing.

Whether it should have been killed or not is another question. I can say for sure that the data elements to be tracked in InBloom *were already being tracked* inside systems around the state. There was no new data collection. These data were *already being aggregated at the state level* as well so there was no new centralization going on either. The only new feature of InBloom was a set of programmer friendly api's to make creating apps on top of the data easier. That's it. Everything else was already in place, and remains in place. The difference is that to access the data, you now will have to use painful bulk api's and transfer formats, which makes it harder for innovative companies to provide services. The big, old enterprise school software companies will be able to continue with business as usual.

So when the governor agreed to kill this as part of a budget deal with the activists and their legislators, the deal was struck as narrowly as possible - killing InBloom, but leaving the rest of the collection and data management infrastructure in place. Status quo won.

Nothing good has been done as a result, in my opinion (being in favor of using digital tools and data to help kids learn), but not much has been done to protect kids from having their data spread into many different systems either, so the activists won the battle but have probably lost the war, at least in NY.

Re:Parent groups shut this down (2)

sjames (1099) | about 3 months ago | (#46820569)

The problem is who owns the data. The deep secret about your 'permanent record' that principals talk about when you're in school is that once you graduate, they sit on paper in a disused basement until destroyed by floods, fire, or rats. Perhaps these days they sit on tapes that become unreadable even sooner.

The good news is that they don't get sold to credit agencies, insurance companies or other lowlifes. Even if they wanted to sell it, they can't. It's just too hard to retrieve.

The harm of collecting it all under some 3rd party that pinkie swears it won't misuse the data is that it will, sooner or later, be quietly sold to those lowlifes I mentioned.

FERPA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46830159)

It's not a "pinkie swear" that prevents release, it's FERPA - the federal education data privacy law on the books since the seventies and actively enforced by US Dept of Ed. Large corporations in education pay serious attention the rules under FERPA and do not, in my experience, sell out student data to anyone. It's against the law and the penalties are real and very significant to these corps. The loss of credibility on the management of data could very quickly put any one of a number of large educational publishers out of business, so the minor benefits of selling out to lowlife advertisers etc is not worth it, given how lucrative their existing lines of businesses are.

Re:FERPA (1)

sjames (1099) | about 3 months ago | (#46830291)

Let's see, FERPA [wikipedia.org]

It only applies to organizations receiving DOE funds. OH, and it seems it got loosened up a bit in 2012.

So yes, it's a pinkie swear.

Re:Schools are operated by cowards (1)

ffkom (3519199) | about 3 months ago | (#46819125)

"... simply consolidate their children's educational data to a single 3rd party service." - There's not a single good reason to do that, other than to fulfil the fantasies of the founders of those "3rd party services".

If you want "personalized education", pay teachers for spending time on your children.

If you want colorful "management reports" on your childrens education project status, automatically derived from some formalized database entries, then of course, such a "consolidating 3rd party service" is great for you. I would then also advise to outsource the celebration of birthdays of your children to some event management company. And don't forget to hire a professional service to feed and bath them while they are young, before you can send them to boarding school. Consequentially, you should also outsource the fertilization and hire some mom-for-rent to hatch your offspring.

Re:Schools are operated by cowards (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 3 months ago | (#46819801)

One of the big problems with InBloom was that there was no "option" of using it. The children's data would be uploaded whether the parents wanted it to be or not. For example, my wife and I were opposed to InBloom and didn't want our sons' information uploaded to their cloud servers. We couldn't opt-out, though. Like it or not, our sons' data would have been uploaded to InBloom's system and there would have been nothing we could have done to stop it. (Beyond complaining loudly to our politicians - which we did.)

Had InBloom been an opt-in or even an opt-out procedure, many of the objections might have gone away. But then, they wouldn't have been able to sell their system as one central place to manage *ALL* student data.

The data are already in use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46830183)

This would be a significant point if the data weren't already collected and used by the state and contracted third parties already. Parents can't opt-out of the data systems today, and InBloom didn't change that situation one way or the other. Other third parties already maintain the same data as InBloom would have, and will continue to do so today. And there is no opt-out of that.

Put another way, for example, if a parent wants to opt-out of data systems, it becomes very hard to make sure that every kid arrived safely on the buses because the rosters of students who are in school are digital. So the principal and teachers would have to maintain a paper opt-out list of students who are non-digital and manage them on ledger books while all the other students are tracked via digital systems. It's pretty unreasonable to offer parents opt-outs from digital tracking for these reasons. If the school is offering all digital assessments, same thing: a small percentage of kids have to take the test on paper and have it hand graded? I just can't see how this makes any sense if you want to run a school effectively in the modern age. It would be like offering employees an opt-out from email, telephone or source control or something..

Re:Schools are operated by cowards (1)

phorm (591458) | about 3 months ago | (#46824037)

Because school officials, in their fear and ignorance, assume that somehow it's all going to be breached - and here's the key part - and that they will be responsible and bear some degree of liability.

Maybe those school officials, familiar with history and similar systems, have a bit more education on the subject than yourself...

Oxymoron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46818985)

Am I the only one who hears "personalized" in a "database" and smells bullshit?

Not new... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46819011)

Personalized learning is nothing new... The documentation and tracking of everything is what is new. To have these privacy concerns is also kind of naive. Schools, in order to do their jobs well, need to know everything about a child. In Illinois, many (I am a little skiddish about saying all) schools use the states SIS (Student Information System) It is nothing more than a data base of the student: All Demographics, All grades, All Courses, All Teachers, All attendances, All comments by teachers, etc.) This SIS is run by The State Board of Education (Kind of a lame duck body that just blows Madigan whenever the need arises.) The teachers in schools may not knowingly use SIS, but all schools are required to use this (Or say goodbye to funding: Schools are basically whores for cash in order to operate at the students expense.) At my school teachers use STI (I've no clue what it stands for, Student-Teacher-Information?) that must "sync up" all data with the State's SIS. This SIS system has way more than 400 data fields.
it sounds as if parents thinks that privacy is a possibility any more in schools. It isn't. The government requires too much documentation of everything. The schools must comply. Blah, I am gonna quit while I am remembering to check "post anonymous" for reasons of tenure being a joke. (This is exactly what tenure is for:. having a contrary belief than the local government and being protected. Not for keeping a jack-off-of-a-teacher employed.)

Re:Not new... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46819045)

"This SIS system has way more than 400 data fields. "

But luckily, the parents don't know that.
Half of them don't also believe in vaccination.
Perhaps if schools would refuse brats who aren't vaccinated that would change.

Some Common Sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46819249)

I worked at inBloom.

A couple things worth mentioning.

The code is completely open source: https://github.com/inbloom/secure-data-service

We did not have access to the student data (its encrypted) nor could we ever sell it (unless we all wanted to go to prison because its against the law). An alternative to shoving student data into our system was to simply run the system yourself (hey the codes available! anyone could run it!). The objective was really about interoperability. Schools now have data in a myriad of systems all with really poor security. What if we had a single location (could even be on site) that housed this data with a modern RESTful API. That was the goal of making it easy as hell for developers to write apps against this data to benefit teachers and students.

Everyone that works for the company is really passionate about helping students. Nothing more and nothing less. I know thats hard to believe but its true.

Re:Some Common Sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46819355)

Also worth mentioning that we did not provide any apps. We simply provided a data store with a modern RESTful API and a method for ingestion. The apps that then use that API are purchased by the districts just like they do now. Except that those purchased apps could immediately function against this centralized data store.

These apps are going to get purchased eitherway. With inBloom failing it just means that the costs go up and things will stay the same. A bunch of disparate data systems and apps that dont communicate or have single sign on.

Good times.

Re:Some Common Sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46819719)

Well, it is a terrible shame that it will be that much harder for data miners, marketers, and leaky-as-a-sieve home-grown school information systems to federate into Every Last Bit Of Data About Every Last Student.

I merely INTERVIEWED at Wireless Generation, now Amplify, a company that is tied up with this effort. I figured they would fail, not because their basic concept was hideously misguided, but because they thought the way to get high-quality software was to buy each new developer the system of his dreams -- Mac, Win, Linux, etc -- with a huge monitor, then set it up on a long folding table along with five or ten other developers and their dream systems, in a big echoing warehouse space that would house maybe 30-50 developers total. No acoustic isolation, no VISUAL isolation, no privacy, and if three or four folks were "collaborating" loudly at the next table over, well, I guess that "collaborative atmosphere" could only help the quality of the entirely-unrelated code you were trying to concentrate on.

Maybe they had the right idea, and maybe they were doing wonderful work. But to me it looked like they were being run by bozos, and I said "thanks but no thanks".

Unfortunately these parents are a bit misinformed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46819395)

I work with various schools on technology projects. Literally every school has a school management system and most a learning management system. These systems already track all of that information. Many states in the US have these systems at the district level, so people do not even know they are being tracked and what data is going in. I work with Private schools where parents have a portal, normally, and they have some core info to enter and the rest is "optional" depending on what country the project is in.

These systems are expensive and many are tied to curriculum materials, so if a school has access to the technology they need for free - and all the alternatives are the same but are going to impact the budget - then reacting this way is not going to change anything.

Even schools with proprietary databases and management systems commonly use the data for government projects and to populate other databases that add additional functions.

I agree with the idea in principle, but the reality is that the cost of education rises for families if the opt out of sponsored or subsidised programs.

Common Core Sucks :)

Sad to see CONservatives... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46820527)

kill education like they killed this site earlier with their coordinated DoS attack. It's sad when anti-tech people can so easily kill a tech site.

What a shock (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about 3 months ago | (#46820645)

The government (and their private sector lobbyists) has made it quite clear that they don't give a shit about anyone's rights or privacy. Parents have a right to be concerned. These days there is a 'permanent record', and with ever growing numbers of data points being added, the probability of having your career torpedoed for out-of-context events that happened decades ago is growing radically.

Good to see it go. (1)

Bender Unit 22 (216955) | about 3 months ago | (#46820707)

We don't need more tracking for a goverment to abuse.

"inBloom has world-class security" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46820769)

inBloom has world-class security and privacy protections

Oh, yeah. And I have an e-mail in my inbox from Yassir Arafat's widow promising to transfer $100 MILLION to my account.

How credible do those folks think they are?

Re:"inBloom has world-class security" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46821751)

Probably the credibility of a SOC2 standard and various 3rd party auditors who confirmed that security was in place. In addition the data store system was designed so that inBloom couldn't actually read the student data since it was encrypted against their viewing and the education agencies held the keys required to decrypt it. Without the keys then the data looked like garbage. SOC2 certification + Unreadable data to vendor = world class privacy and security. How is that for credibility?

Even if their security were perfect... (1)

Rix (54095) | about 3 months ago | (#46820809)

Which, of course, it is not, that still leaves the entirely reasonable objection that they have the data for any reason at all. Why should they be trusted with it?

Can't Even Test Kids (1)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 3 months ago | (#46821181)

In order to ascertain whether a learning program works well the first item needed is solid testing so that you know where a child is at in his learning path. Sadly efforts to do real testing get sabotaged by the powers that be. For example we have the F-Cat testing which is sort of an anti learning device. The reason it is negative is that schools know what will be on the tests and when the tests will take place. The S.A.T. tests have suffered a similar fate. These days it is normal to study for the S.A.T. exams and the announced date of the testing is made known well in advance. That negates the entire testing process. Imagine that a whistle blows and the school is informed that the test is right now. Imagine that the test is confined to one, narrow subject. Further there a numerous versions of tests for each subject such that study in advance simply can not be done. This way you can quickly and easily find out what a student knows in a particular subject. The next semester the probability would be that an entirely different subject would be thrust at the students. This would allow inexpensive and fast testing and no group could gain an edge by simply hiring a specialized tutor or buying focused books on the tests. So this year little Johny happened to be tested on long division. Both Johny and his school can be evaluated on the students ability to do long division. Next year it might be grammar or geography. The truth is that schools do not want their real success to be known just as the city mayor also does not want the quality of the school to be known.

Re:Can't Even Test Kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46821367)

"These days it is normal to study for the S.A.T. exams and the announced date of the testing is made known well in advance. "

Maybe it is because I'm from different culture, but seriously, why would be studying for college admission test bad thing? I would find it shocking if high school student with college ambitions did not studied for SAT. I'm not even sure whether such student is college material, no matter how bright he is.

As for your random time narrow subject test, it would simply measure whether the teacher happened to focus on that subject last week or last month.

What we are forgetting is the employees (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46821871)

I have spoken to inbloom employees quite a bit at conferences. Everyone is so quick to vilify and paint inBloom as the evil data mining company that wanted your student data and wanted to sell it. Inbloom's code reveals that their data service encrypted the data against their viewing or manipulation. Decryption of this data required a key that was controlled by the school districts and agencies. So what was inbloom even going to do with garbage data? This was done by design by people who wanted you to feel safe around your student data because inbloom didn't actually control access or readability to it. Only educational agencies controlled it. They open-sourced it so anyone could read it or install it themselves. They made themselves a non-profit so that everyone would know that they were not in it for the profit. They also distanced themselves from Amplify because everyone suspected a conspiracy. I imagine they couldn't get away from the Gates foundation because they were funding everything. The thing though is that I met most of the inbloom people at various conferences and they were passionate and in integrity about what they were doing. They wanted to help teachers teach students better by using technology to simplify the teacher's lives. Nothing more nothing less. I even spoke to the head of their server team last year in Portland (Michael?) and he clearly stated that he controlled access to the computers that housed the data and even for the secure data only 4 people in the entire company had access. He looked me in the eye and said that absolutely no one was selling data, analyzing data, or doing anything with the data at inbloom and that they never would. He said not only was the data unreadable to them, but that if he was ever forced to give even the encrypted data to anyone he and his entire team would quit the company. He also stated that his executive team from president to tech all felt the same. He said it with such certainty that I knew it was true. I wish them all well and thank them for at least attempting to help teachers and students.

Personalzed? (1)

pouar (2629833) | about 3 months ago | (#46835469)

If they "personalize" learning the same way Facebook "personalizes" ads. Then I don't blame them for not wanting it.
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