Teachers in Denmark use apps to check their students’ mood

Teachers in Denmark use apps to check their students’ mood

Teachers in Denmark use apps to check their students' mood

Rockenbach says these sociograms are crucial tools for detecting social isolation and could even help identify children vulnerable to bullying. He cites testimonial reports from schools as an indicator that the platform is helping to improve well-being. But, he adds, “we haven’t done a comprehensive research project that could compare, say, a school that uses Bloomsights to a school that doesn’t. It’s something we seek to do.

Indeed, some teachers wonder how useful, even ethical, the app is. “It’s very intimate stuff that gets asked, and they (kids) don’t necessarily know who’s going to see it,” says Naya Marie Nord, a teacher at a school in suburban Copenhagen who uses Bloomsights. “Of course, as a teacher, I should have insight into how my students are feeling. But that’s something I prefer to convey in confidentiality between me and the student, rather than telling a computer. Nord is concerned about the number of teachers who don’t work directly with children who still have access to their data. She thinks the app straddles ethical boundaries given how much it intrudes on children’s privacy. students.

“They have no chance of understanding what is going on. It’s not like we give them a long presentation explaining how it’s used and who has access (to the data),” says Nord. “And if we did, we wouldn’t get any honest answers. If they really understood how much data I can see about them and how much other people can see it as well, I think they would respond differently.

According to the data policies of Klassetrivsel, one of the platforms that collects non-anonymized data, consent is not required from parents or children before using the app in class. The company claims that since the app is an integrated tool used for ‘welfare purposes’ in a public institution, it falls under a Danish legal clause that exempts public authorities from requirements to obtain consent. for data collection. And since the platforms are not classified as “information society services” like Facebook or Google, no parental consent is required under the General Data Protection Regulation, the European Union law on data confidentiality.

Legal precedent appears to support Klassetrivsel’s claims about how data law applies to his work. In 2019, a parent filed a complaint with the Danish Data Protection Agency, claiming that a data-driven wellness platform at his child’s school was engaging in forced surveillance of the child. . The parent further argued that “measuring and monitoring wellness is not the same as improving wellness.” The agency ruled in favor of the school municipality: the application was seen as a tool to maintain the tasks of “crucial social interest” which are the responsibility of the schools.

“Usually the legal authority under which these third-party applications operate is that they provide a service on behalf of public authorities,” says Allan Frank, IT lawyer at the agency. But they should still store data properly and not collect more than necessary. They must also operate under the umbrella of government permission, he says: “If there is a random teacher or a school that has been convinced to set it up suddenly without the supervision of the municipality or the ministry of Education, then that would be a problem.”

In Denmark, parents can opt out if they do not want data collected about their children through these apps. According to Bloomsights, this is also the case in the United States: while practices vary, Rockenbach says parents typically sign a document once a year that lists all the different services used by the school.

But because the apps are used in an educational context and are portrayed as altruistic, parents and policymakers tend to let their guard down. “There are plenty of other apps where I limit my son’s use, but I’m not concerned about apps used at school in the same way as I am by TikTok and YouTube, for example,” says Janni Hindborg Christiansen, mother of one of the children in the fifth grade class who uses Woof. “At least Woof is used in a controlled environment and has a good purpose. I trust it more than so many other apps that I would be more critical of.


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