ClassDojo — a popular behavior-tracking app — is raising privacy concerns, according to the New York Times. Tracking technologies make it easy for teachers to award points for good behavior or demerits for bad behavior. Parents can track their child’s conduct, if they choose to sign up.
But some fear a young child’s misdemeanors could be recorded for posterity. The “permanent record” really would be permanent.
HUNTER, N.Y. — For better or for worse, the third graders in Greg Fletcher’s class at Hunter Elementary School always know where they stand.
One morning in mid-October, Mr. Fletcher walked to the front of the classroom where an interactive white board displayed ClassDojo, a behavior-tracking app that lets teachers award points or subtract them based on a student’s conduct. On the board was a virtual classroom showing each student’s name, a cartoon avatar and the student’s scores so far that week.
“I’m going to have to take a point for no math homework,” Mr. Fletcher said to a blond boy in a striped shirt and then clicked on the boy’s avatar, a googly-eyed green monster, and subtracted a point.
The program emitted a disappointed pong sound, audible to the whole class — and sent a notice to the child’s parents if they had signed up for an account on the service.
In one out of three U.S. schools, at least one teacher uses ClassDojo, which is free. (There are plans to raise money by targeting ads to parents who sign up.) And there are other tracking apps available.
Critics don’t want teachers to reward of penalize students for subjective acts such as “disrespect,” reports the Times. In addition, they fear “behavior databases could potentially harm students’ reputations by unfairly saddling some with ‘a problem child’ label that could stick with them for years.”
The concerns seem silly to me. Teachers have been using points to maintain order — and to communicate their expectations — for decades. This just makes it simpler.
As for privacy, the app doesn’t require the student’s last name. ClassDojo won’t know who’s who –unless the parents sign up to track their child.
Some think it’s wrong to award points and demerits in front of the whole class — again, nothing new. Teachers can use the app privately.