In February 2021, MIT’s Schwarzman College of Computing launched a specially commissioned series that aims to address the opportunities and challenges of the computing age. The MIT Case Studies in Social and Ethical Responsibilities of Computing (SERC) series features peer-reviewed, freely available cases by topic-area experts that introduce readers to a range of questions about computing, data, and society. The following article is excerpted from Kathleen Creel and Tara Dixit case study, featured in the Summer 2022 issue of SERC.
For many high school students in the United States, classwork and homework begin the same way: by opening a laptop and logging into a learning platform. Students spend hours of their days composing essays, practicing math problems, emailing teachers, and taking tests online. At schools with policies governing in-class phone use, students message friends on school-provided devices that come to feel like their own. But many do not realize that schools and third-party companies can collect their personal communications as data and, in some cases, as evidence.
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