My travels have seen an epic school transformation

When we first started this company over a decade ago here in Australia, my vision was to create an exceptional media management system, that not only embraced consent protocols but…...
June 27, 2024
by pixevety

When we first started this company over a decade ago here in Australia, my vision was to create an exceptional media management system, that not only embraced consent protocols but offered a seamless, secure, time saving integration tool for educational institutions.

While a global footprint was always an aspiration, it was never a pre-requisite for success. My personal benchmark for success extended well beyond the traditional channels, with school education and child protection being my ultimate measurement for success. It’s an alien concept for most CEO’s but for me that is where the genuine reward would emanate from.

I have been campaigning for over a decade for educational institutions to embrace a proactive digital media strategy that embraces significant protocols that protect a student’s images and data, and now it seems the lethargy may be starting to subside.

Over the last 6 months I have been circumnavigating the world, engaging with schools and education departments, having a robust conversation around image consent and privacy, and for the first time in a decade I can see a seismic shift in attitude, education, and implementation.

A Clear Understanding of School Responsibility to Image Privacy

In every country I visited – from the United States, Canada, to the UK – there was one underlying similarity: the confusion surrounding the school’s responsibility for student image privacy had suddenly and unequivocally vanished. Has this awakening been stimulated by recent litigation against schools and social media companies by parents, the increase in cyber-attacks on large, entrusted institutions, or the sudden rise in AI software and its ability to manipulate images in many popular social media channels and apps. Has the realisation that an external threat can do irreparable damage to students, families, and the school’s brand been the catalyst for change? Whatever the reason, I am cautiously optimistic that an essential transition has commenced.

One of the most interesting changes during my travels has been the insatiable appetite for information. Never have educators been so interested in fundamental protection protocols like safeguarding, consent, ethical use of facial recognition technology and biometrics. Influential protection factors like cyber credentials, secure enterprise-grade ISO-certified and SOC2-compliant private data centres and GDPR have also been at the forefront of these discussions.

Privacy and Security the key drivers of any school media management strategy

Six months ago, a discussion of that calibre would have invoked indifference and confusion. Now it is a driver of the conversation.

Safeguarding and, consent are the new buzz words for educational institutions and for good reason.

In today’s digital age, the intersection of education and media has become increasingly complex, particularly when it comes to issues of consent. Schools often engage in various forms of media production and dissemination, from photographing students for yearbooks to recording events for posterity and promotional purposes. While these practices can foster community engagement and showcase achievements, they also raise significant ethical and legal concerns regarding the consent of students and their families.

Informed consent is a foundational principle in both ethics and law. It ensures that individuals are fully aware of what they are agreeing to and understand the potential consequences. In the context of schools and media, informed consent means that students and their parents or guardians must be clearly informed about how images and recordings will be used, who will have access to them, where they will be published and how long they will be stored.

Schools must navigate a complex web of legal requirements when it comes to media and consent. In many jurisdictions, laws such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) in the United States provide specific protections for students’ educational records, which can include photographs and videos. Schools must ensure compliance with these regulations to protect students’ privacy and avoid legal repercussions.

Every school should be asking pertinent questions to ensure the protection of their digital assets and equally every school media management platform should be GDPR compliant and forthcoming around their security protocols. If a media management platform says they “support GDPR” that is not acceptable, they must be GDPR complaint. If they have not taken the time to undertake a Privacy Impact Assessment on their platform or conducted an independent technical audit run like Cyber Essentials Plus, then schools should question their authenticity and their ability to safeguard their assets.

What leading schools are doing differently?

Leading schools are now embracing knowledge as a foundation to drive their media management acquisitions and doing the necessary due diligence to enhance their security protocols.

Their desire for information is the architect for change and provides a timely transition that leaves no room for ambiguity.

This may seem inconsequential to many people reading this, but it is a major turning point for educational institutions who have embraced a heightened security approach to protecting their school and students.

Additionally, this throws the gauntlet down to other schools to embrace the transition or risk being left behind with antiquated policies that will inevitably lead to legal action or a data breach that will leave an indelible stain on their brand.

Navigating the issue of consent in school media use requires a careful balance of legal, ethical, and practical considerations. By prioritising informed consent, respecting student, and parental rights, implementing robust policies, schools can responsibly use media to enhance education and community engagement, while safeguarding the privacy and autonomy of their students.

I am encouraged to witness this change in attitude as schools pay careful attention to their choice of media management solution, moving away from prioritising price and social media-linked platforms. School marketers are now realising that they – not social media companies – must take ownership of protecting their community and are responsible for ensuring its safety.

Ultimately, the key question arises: does cost outweigh safeguarding, and do general-purpose tech companies, whether large or small, primarily designed for adults and heavily linked to social media or third-party suppliers, truly protect children’s data and have the best interests of schools and students at heart?

Colin Anson-Smith
CEO & Co-Founder of pixevety

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