MathFessor Acts Ethically Responsible With Children’s Data
“As the leading provider of digital math for schools in Denmark, we take great pride in living up to our data ethical responsibility. Continuous focus is on the protection of personal data in our digital math universe. Everyone must be able to feel safe sharing their personal data with us, whether you are a teacher, pupil or parent.”
How to write the Danish company Edulab, whose mission is to make the world’s children better at maths, on their website. And when you meet them in their humble premises obliquely opposite Vanløse Station, where they are dull together because of a growing plant, there is no doubt that the desire to treat children’s data ethically responsible is more than heartfelt.
“We are doing education. It is also about formation. And it’s about behaving properly. We would like to take care of data and behave properly, and this could also be an advantage for our business, “says founder and director Kasper Holst Hansen.
He is sure that data ethical behavior becomes a competitive parameter. “But only briefly. Because it will be normal soon. Those of our competitors who can not guarantee data ethics get the death penalty, “he believes.
80,000 Danish children log into the portal mathematicsfessor.dk daily to do exercises and homework in mathematics. Teachers and parents can follow the children’s development in mathematical competencies. Also in Norway and Sweden and very soon Holland becomes friends with Fessor.
Edulab sells private subscriptions to parents and subscriptions to schools. The parents themselves enter the required data and consent to their children using the platform. When it comes to schools, Edulab gets common data like name, class, school and teacher from STIL, the Board of IT and Learning. And then they generate a lot of data in the form of answers that they analyze so parents and teachers can follow the progression in children’s math skills. The children also have access to data, but not everything, for example, they do not know that they are in grade 3 if they are in the 6th grade. It only teaches teachers so that they know where they can put in front of the individual student. A few years ago Edulab also had a playful game – The boys against the girls – on the front of the platform. But they have the scraps.
“I was called by a female mathematician who criticized it. She said it was hard enough to be a woman in math. So we removed it. It seemed to us that we have a man-made responsibility and how much we can influence, “says Kasper Holst Hansen.
According to Edulab’s IT Manager Lotte Ludvigsen, the company does not need data such as eye color, height, language or gender. They look at the behavior and progression of the competencies. In general, they are working to get as little data as possible – data minimization, which is one of the principles of the EU Data Regulation. They do not use the CPR numbers they receive with the STIL package. And they are working to get the data out of the package that they do not need, but for historical reasons, such as gender. They do not have third parties cookies on their portal, which the children use, nor the SoMe plugins that so many other websites commit. It is to prevent sharing of children’s data with third parties. Edulab also does not sell third party data and has clear data processing agreements with its subcontractors. Google Analytics is only used on their regular websites for marketing purposes.
Although Edulab is convinced that data ethics are a good business, there are also situations where commercial goals fall into the data ethics. For example, they had a hefty discussion about whether they should use Facebook’s retrieval tool, so Facebook users who have visited Edulab’s website will meet ads for Edulab on Facebook.
“Commercial and ethical are sometimes opposed to each other,” says Lotte Ludvigsen. “We had an ethical discussion about it and will now test Facebook’s retrieval targeted teachers. We set the age limit to 25, so we are sure that we do not hit children and adolescents on Facebook. So we’ll test it and see if it can give anything. ”
According to Lotte Ludvigsen, Edulab is still unable to live up to GDPR. For example, to describe all their processes and controls.
That with the data ethics is already a competitive advantage for Edulab in their export markets. In Sweden, it’s just something your collaborator takes for granted. And when Edulab recently signed an agreement in Holland, there was no doubt that their data ethical guidelines were of great importance.
“It’s just good to behave properly,” says Kasper Holst Hansen.
Edulab’s data ethical guidelines
• It is of great importance to us that all data and use of data must serve the purpose of making children better at math.
• Our digital portal is ad free – we do not advertise our own or the products of others. However, when relevant we inform teachers of our new products and initiatives via the portal’s digital staff room.
• We do not use SoMe plugins on our digital portal – this in order to ensure that social media has no access to data stored on our portal.
• Under no circumstances do we sell or supply personal data to third party.
• We only share data with our stakeholders to the extent it is relevant and safe.
• We collaborate with the world of research and science, however any shared data is anonymised. Furthermore, all researchers and scientists must sign a non-disclosure agreement.
• We provide data transparency – we are open about how we treat data, how long we keep it for and who has access to it. Furthermore, we inform our users of their options and rights in terms of their data.
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