Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Getting App-roval and Parent Permission

You may have seen or heard that there is a new app approval process in the School District of Waukesha. The goal is to make it easier for students to get access to the apps they use in class without an Apple ID. The indirect goal is to ensure that we are protecting our student's data privacy and safety.  A previous blog post outlined the details of this process; you can read that here.

Before we place anything in front of our students, whether it is a book, text, website or video, we should be making sure that is appropriate for use in an educational setting.

Keys to Selecting Safe, Appropriate Apps

When it comes to Apps, there are some key things to look for and understand (this can help you to be sure the app you wish to use is approved for use):

Look for links to this information in the
iTunes app store for easy access.
  • Age range in iTunes - This is a recommended age range from iTunes but does not always line up with the terms of use. This is only one of the things we look at when vetting an app.
  • In app purchases, advertising or limited use without purchase - Apps that only allow users to interact with a small percentage of the app, offer or require purchases, or contain advertising that could contain inappropriate material should be a red flag.
  • Privacy: These can usually be found on the app developer website. What information are they collecting and what will they do with the data? Look for apps that comply with COPPA (Children Online Privacy Protection Act). This is typically outlined within the privacy statements, which can often be found in the app store.
  • Terms of Use/Service: These can usually be found on the app developer website as well. Often, they will give specific details on the information the app collects on the users and who they share it with. It may also contain an age range of use or the need for parent permission. 
An example from SeeSaw: 
Seesaw only collects personal information through the Services from a child under 13 where their school, district, and/or teacher has agreed (via the terms described in more detail below) to obtain parental consent to use the Services and disclose personal information to us for the use and benefit of the learning environment.
    • Parent Permission can come in many forms. Some developers require it for all users under the age of 18, while others are for 13 and under. Either way, it is up to the classroom teacher who wishes to use the app to obtain that parent permission for EACH student before they download the app from Self Service. These apps will be in a category called "Parent Permission." 
    • A sample Parent Permission letter template has been designed to help classroom teachers. You can find it here. Make a copy of it in Google Docs and tweak to fit your app request. Make sure to include the app name, link to the terms of use and privacy, and share how you will be using the app with your students. 
So now, how do you get into the App-proval game? App requests must be entered into the SDW Self Service App Request Form available here: https://goo.gl/G7sf7SNot all apps will be approved. And plan ahead. It can take some time to track down these items and review them. 

Whether approved or not, the person submitting an app approval to SDW Self Service App Request form will receive email notification of the determination made. As of today, we have reviewed 470 apps!