This policy pertains to virtual assistant devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home.
Potentially positive uses of such technology need to be weighed against how they actually function, whether student data and anonymity can be protected as required by FERPA regulations, the terms of service and privacy policies for each device, and any potential network or infrastructure security risks.
A review of privacy policies and terms of service shows a consistent assumption that a parent would need to explicitly allow the use of the device by children 13 and under. It also confirms that recordings of interactions with the device may exist, though there are provisions for deleting such recordings. Nonetheless, the act of creating a recording, and the chance that a student or employee may share information that exceeds the allowable threshold of Directory information, opens the door for a breach of privacy or worse.
It should also be noted that these devices have been shown to be susceptible to hacking and therefore create an additional opportunity for a data breach to occur. Being able to properly manage and secure devices on the district's network is critical to ensuring functionality for all users.
Given the concerns primarily with student privacy and also with lax security of such devices, Virtual Assistant Devices are specifically forbidden in the district at this time. As these technologies mature, it is possible that their functionality and ability to maintain appropriate levels of student privacy will advance to an acceptable level for a school environment. As of now the risks are greater than the potential reward.
Siri server side logging is disabled for all district managed iPads. Siri voice recordings or utterances are never transmitted to Apple, other third parties, or stored on remote servers. Voice and command processing takes place on device. As such, Siri can be used on district managed iPad and Mac devices as an alternative solution for voice dictation.
Usage of such a device pursuant to an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), for which no other acceptable alternative best conforms to the ideal of establishing the least restrictive educational environment for a student, will be considered and handled on a case by case basis.
Voice Assistants in the Classroom: Useful Tool or Privacy Problem?, retrieved from FerpaSherpa, Susan Bearden, published 11/18/18, retrieved 9/23/19.
US Department of Education - Protecting Student Privacy - FERPA Guidelines
8 Reasons to Use a Digital Assistant In Your Classroom, retrieved from ISTE, Maureen Brown Yoder, published 3/21/18, retrieved 9/23/19.
Corporate IoT - A Path to Intrusion, retrieved from Microsoft Security Response Center blog, published 8/5/2019, retrieved 9/23/19.
Do Voice Assistant Devices Have a Place in the Classroom, retrieved from EdSurge, Tina Yazerian, published 7/11/18, retrieved 9/23/19.