LearnPlatform by Instructure

Keeping Students Safe in a TechEnabled Learning Environment

How this Illinois School District Maintains SOPPA Compliance

Oak Park and River Forest High School

A high-functioning edtech ecosystem is dependent on efficient processes and practices that support evidencebased decisions. Districts must ensure that students and teachers have access to appropriate and effective edtech tools and that the tools do not pose threats to student data privacy. This all begins in the early stages of the vetting, budgeting and implementation processes.

The Technology team at Oak Park and River Forest High School in Illinois works to ensure that these processes run smoothly for the team and district. With the help of LearnPlatform, the team worked to modernize their processes to ensure they meet the district’s needs as priorities and requirements evolve.

The Challenge

Before partnering with LearnPlatform by Instructure, the district employed a rating system when reviewing the privacy commitments of specific edtech products, however, the system lacked clear distinctions between actual privacy policies and interpretations of the providers’ privacy statements. The team wanted to reduce the amount of subjectivity involved.

Additionally, with the passage of the Illinois Student Online Personal Protection Act (SOPPA), the team knew they would have to act fast to be in compliance with the new law – the system they had in place simply wouldn’t cut it.

SOPPA, which went into effect on July 1, 2021, required Illinois districts to provide guarantees that student data collected by edtech providers is protected and used for beneficial purposes only. Once the law officially passed, the Oak Park and River Forest team quickly began to consider how the new law would impact the edtech tools used in classrooms throughout the district and what they would need to do for compliance.

The district team wanted to be responsible stewards of student data and, as such, wanted to set up processes that would ensure they only approved edtech tools from companies that adhered to safe data practices in favor of students. Adhering to the policies put in place allows students to benefit from the applications and software without putting data into irresponsible hands.

“We quickly figured out that the volume of work given the number of edtech tools would be insurmountable without a partner. LearnPlatform offered the most comprehensive solution, tools and quick request turnaround with as little impact on classroom instruction as possible. We didn’t want to overburden our faculty or teachers.” - Christopher Thieme, Executive Director of Educational Technology

The Solution

As a result of implementing LearnPlatform, the district now has a central repository of their approved edtech tools along with a customizable, public-facing library to share information with families and automated workflows for processing new edtech application requests. Having this functionality built into a single platform meant that the team at Oak Park River Forest could focus on other critical aspects of the vetting and selection processes without overburdening faculty and educators. The shared library also gives different stakeholders visibility into specific information on approved edtech tools.

Ultimately, by leveraging LearnPlatform, the team was empowered to do more than just streamline its processes – rather, it gave the team the ability to rethink its whole approach to managing student data privacy.

By partnering with LearnPlatform by Instructure, the team has been able to spend less time manually managing the vetting of tools for privacy compliance and more time on implementation processes to get edtech tools into classrooms more quickly. Also, giving the district’s various stakeholders access to the data they need further pushes for a community dedicated to safe and equitable learning environments for its students. Because of this, LearnPlatform has become a core component of Oak Park and River Forest’s edtech selection and vetting processes.

The built-in workflow, the access to resources and the ability to work with what we already have has really proven to be a game changer with LearnPlatform we have a system that's very streamlined – a requestis putin by faculty, our team is immediately notified, and we can move on with the process. The partnership with LearnPlatform has made a very hard job, easy.

Christopher Thieme

Executive Director of Educational Technology

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