Post-publication, PogoWasRight received an email from Bloomz, challenging the accuracy of BocaNewsnow’s reporting. I have posted their full response as a separate post to ensure that it shows up in people’s news feeds, rather than just updating this post, and I do hope that everyone reads their response.
The original post appears below:
Several teachers in schools throughout South Palm Beach County are using “Bloomz,” a Facebook-like app to communicate in a social network style with parents. This app is not approved by the Palm Beach County School District. Teachers are not authorized to use the app.
Potentially violating Florida public records laws, Bloomz presents a “back channel” communication tool that isn’t monitored by, and can’t be accessed by, administrators, principals, school district attorneys or members of the public filing freedom of information act requests.
At issue: teachers are storing confidential student information in the app which may be used by Bloomz for marketing purposes, potentially violating FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Calendars, photos, testing schedules, lists of students completing field trip permission slips, even photos and videos are being posted online by teachers with no guarantee of privacy or confidentiality.
Read more on BocaNewsNow.
If the allegations are true, this is a good example of the risks and pitfalls with edtech. Did the districts do a training with teachers about permissible and impermissible tech? Did teachers have to sign any statement of understanding about what they can use and not use? Do teachers ever get actually disciplined or suspended for using tech that they were not permitted to use?