EdTech- The Ultimate APT

Conference:  BlackHat USA 2020



The presentation discusses the issues and challenges of using educational technology platforms in schools, including the lack of reliability, privacy concerns, and potential for exacerbating inequality and injustice.
  • Educational technology platforms often lack reliability and can cause significant issues for students and teachers during exams or when accessing important information.
  • Privacy concerns are also prevalent, with many platforms sharing user data with third parties without consent.
  • The use of technology in schools can exacerbate inequality and injustice, particularly for marginalized groups who may not have equal access to technology or reliable internet.
  • The presentation advocates for greater transparency and responsibility from educational technology companies, as well as a more critical approach to the use of technology in schools.
The speaker shares a personal anecdote about a recent exam where the software crashed and took two and a half hours to log out, causing significant stress and frustration. They were only able to retake the exam quickly because of a personal connection, but recognize that not everyone has that privilege. This highlights the potential consequences of unreliable technology in high-stakes situations.


This talk will show the audience that edtech is being implemented in schools without due regard for privacy or harm reduction. In doing this talk, it would be hoped that attention could be drawn to these serious issues and possibly, some action might be taken.Currently, only those with young people in their network are concerned. Longer term this trojan horse effect of implementing edtech without due diligence, risks harming large parts of society. This may sound alarmist and the aim is not FUD. The talk will present this trojan horse issue and prove the harm or point to possible harms.The talk outlines several privacy issues with edtech apps and platforms and shows how harm is done: from the privacy t&c to the way data is stored, to the sharing of information without informed consent. The talk examines providers such as Pearson, BBC, Edulink and Pixl and walks the audience through exactly where the privacy issues are and how harm is or could be done.We will also look at the use of biometrics in schools- from canteen fingerprint pay to facial recognition - and show the flaw in the data storage as well as the lack of informed consent for its use.This will be contrasted with investment in educator tech skills- even DPO at schools are often unable to understand or challenge issues. We have schools where many educators barely have access to a working PC or copier, but we are implementing facial recognition and up to 30 apps in the school.This talk aims to be a call to action. It will inform the audience of key issues and give them important questions they can ask edtech vendors or education institutions. Education is a rite of passage; we encourage students and families to trust the system they have to participate in. That trust is currently being eroded and abused by some edtech and we have duty to slow the harm.



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