Blog #2 Those Terms of Service on Popular Websites DO Matter!

http://plpnetwork.com/2014/04/22/terms-service-popular-websites-matter/

Part I: Summary

This article serves to give some insight and warning on what the general public, and more specifically, students are agreeing to when they agree to the terms of service to an online service. The teacher that wrote this article wrote it after attending an educational technology conference where she visited the vendors booth’s. While at the vendor’s booths, she spoke to someone at a booth for a 3D printing company which got her excited to sign up for an account. Later on when she signed up for the account she noticed some things that stood out in the terms of service agreement; when she asked a representative about it their response was essentially that you should not take the terms of service “seriously”. Further investigation would reveal that many of the free and discounted services that many of us use, particularly those in educational technology sell the information that we give them, compromising our security and the security of our students. The rest of the article talks about weighing the risks against the benefits when signing up for a service, and to try and find services that are FERPA and COPPA compliant, and that those services will be more than willing to tell you about their compliance with those acts, though they generally tend to charge since they can’t turn a profit by selling the information of their users.

Part II: Q&A

Q1: What is your opinion of the issue in the article? Agree or disagree? Why?

The article is informative and interesting, it expands on what I feel a lot of us already know in that companies that offer a free service generally sell our information. However, the article is kind of pointless because many of these services that are offered as alternatives to more popular services, like those offered by Google, cannot match up as far as functionality goes. So really the article serves as a warning with no real economical solution. So I agree with it’s message but disagree with the lack of solutions offered toward the issue.

Q2: How will the issue help or hinder student learning?

The reason that I mostly disagree with this article is that it criticizes the practices of those who offer educational technology services without offering a comparable alternative to these services (you can’t expect everyone to pay for a lesser service). This could hinder student learning if teachers read into this too much and stop using these effective services that we already know work to help student learning.

Q3: What limitations or criticisms of the idea are important to consider?

 

The idea presented in this article, though extremely valid, presents serious limitations to teachers and students if taken seriously. Though there are other services out there that you can pay for that don’t sell your information, you are once again assuming that you, your students, or your school are going to be willing to pay for the service, and that the service is just as good as the one that does sell your information, which generally isn’t true. For example, there are plenty of video hosting sites like YouTube that aren’t YouTube; even if these sites were free and didn’t sell your information, there is no way that they match YouTube in sheer amount of content, ease of use, and sharable content. So basically avoiding these services amounts to you paying for a lesser service, and a hindered education for your students.

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