Microsoft in the classroom — student privacy and safety come first

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Microsoft in the classroom -- student privacy and safety come first

Technology has never been more important in the classroom than it currently is, and this importance is going to do nothing other than increase. The 2014 Microsoft in Education Global Forum kicks off today in Barcelona, with education officials from all over the world converging on the Spanish capital to discuss the classroom of the future. But while technology is undeniably useful, there can also be unwanted, more sinister side effects. Microsoft’s vice president of worldwide education, Anthony Salcito, is clear on the company’s standpoint: “student safety and privacy rights come first.”

With the web now so focused on monetization, particularly through ads, there are always great concerns about how user data is utilized. But Microsoft is keen to avoid exploiting students: “Misleading, exploitative, or aggressive marketing practices simply don’t belong in the classroom”, said Salcito, explaining that Office 365 “never utilizes student data for any advertising purposes.”

To help avoid subjecting students to ads, Bing for Schools was developed which “ensures that kids don’t see search ads, [and] also enhances student privacy by preventing the use of their data to create ad profiles.”

Microsoft is reacting to what people are asking for. Parents have expressed concerns that their offspring’s data could be sold to advertisers. It is here that Microsoft would like to make it clear how different it is to Google. “Where the Office 365 Trust Center clearly states, ‘Your data is not used for our advertising,’ Google makes no such promise about Google Apps for Education.”

These days it is virtually impossible to avoid advertising, but the classroom is one place it most certainly does not belong.