The Ethics Of EdTech: Privacy, Equity & Access In The Digital Classroom

man viewing a laptop with white background & black print reading "EQUITY, PRIVACY, ACCESSIBILITY"

By opening up new learning opportunities for children and adults and contributing to teaching and learning methods innovation, educational technologies (EdTech) increasingly asserts an important role in the new learning era. One notable example of EdTech is the digital classroom.

However, the rapid growth of EdTech has also brought with it many ethical concerns. In this EDU Blog, we will explore new knowledge about equity, privacy, and accessibility of digital classrooms in EdTech.

online classroom in session. student joining in using laptop

What are digital classrooms?

In the past, teaching and learning revolved around textbooks, white paper, or chalkboards. The curricula was also done manually. However, nowadays, technology applications quickly update students’ learning status for parents. The concept of digital classrooms is gaining popularity, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Digital classrooms refer to the feature of the digitally integrated learning experience. It is focused on making education more flexible, whether it’s built-in classroom materials, breakout rooms for role-playing, or chat messengers for deeper interaction.

Digital transformation in education helps:

  1. The school manage and operate the system easier.

  2. Educators improve teaching productivity.

Learners can easily access good educators everywhere and have a more personalized learning path.

Ethics in digital classrooms

At a basic level, ethics provides the framework for our judgements. It governs our behavior in the business field in terms of what is considered “right” and “wrong.”

Digital ethics is the field of study concerned with how technology is shaping and will reshape our political, social, and ethical existence. It also addresses ethically sound professional human rights management following the law through digital and online means.

In contemporary society, pure ethics is a “common sense” perspective for digital ethics. Ethics in the digital classroom is an area that focuses on the ethics of learners and teachers in digital lessons.

Digital classroom equity

The digital gap is real. The Covid-19 pandemic had a vital impact on education and, as a result, it also reveals significant inequalities among students and their access to resources. Therefore, if educators introduce digital tools, they must ensure that all students have equal rights and access to digital classrooms.

To teach online effectively, it is necessary to:

  • Influence the perception of educators.

  • Have a thorough preparation of instructional materials.

  • Carefully train educators.

  • Create a practice environment for educators to practice gradually until mastery.

In addition, a dedicated team must support administrators and educators in implementing online teaching and assessment. Educational institutions should have adequate policies to support cases where learners cannot attend online learning.

To ensure fairness in digital classrooms, educational institutions must pay attention to regular assessments and aim for learners’ progress. Accordingly, student evaluation results are not based solely on one or two periodic tests. It is necessary to combine assessment through learning records and students’ products, and organize for students to self-assess and evaluate each other in the same class.

Digital classroom privacy

Digital classrooms have become popular. Besides the learning experience, data security is critical in online teaching. Many educators are concerned about securing student data and teaching them privacy online while harnessing the benefits of online learning.

Some examples of privacy concern in the digital classroom are students’ names, passwords, parent information, or maybe assessment results and grades. Educators should prioritize student security when handling access to digital classrooms. Educators can make careful decisions about digital classroom privacy when they know these data types in their classrooms.

Once educators know digital classroom privacy, the next step is to evaluate their security methods. They can choose online tools to store student data or teach best practices for keeping data private and safe. By doing so, they are creating the lines of defense for digital classroom privacy.

For example, when sharing a document with a tool like Google Drive, educators should double-check who they share the document with and the individual permissions (view, edit, or suggest). This will ensure that only people with learning needs can access the material.

Once an educator implements privacy, security, and confidentiality in their classroom, they should also consider how their role fits into the overall picture of student data privacy in education. Protecting digital classrooms’ privacy should be a shared goal and responsibility among all educators.

Digital classroom accessibility

Students with different learning conditions will have different accessibility to digital classrooms.

Therefore, this is considered a critical aspect that needs attention and research in implementing online teaching activities. Some suggestions for educational institutions to improve accessibility in the digital classroom are:

First, to overcome difficulties in the online learning process, the school needs to have policies or activities to advise and support students promptly to ensure that students’ learning is not interrupted—especially for students with difficult circumstances or living in remote areas with difficulty accessing and connecting to the internet.

In addition, we can improve the effectiveness of online education by making changes in teaching methods, teachers’ access to technology, and the school’s management and leadership capabilities. To improve the quality of teaching in the future, educational institutions should address the deficiencies in the interaction process between lecturers and students. This can be achieved by paying attention to these inadequacies and organizing training courses to introduce innovative teaching methods.

Thirdly, the school needs to pay attention to equipping students with skills in using information technology, information security skills, and skills in exploiting and effectively using applications for learning activities.

Finally, educators must increase interaction and exchange with students to create psychological comfort and excitement for learners. Teachers need to diversify teaching forms and integrate many activities into the curriculum. Doing so can generate interest in students’ learning and create an environment for students to present and share their views.


man viewing a laptop with white background & black print reading "EQUITY, PRIVACY, ACCESSIBILITY"

EdTech is a broad concept and covers many different controversial topics.

Equity, privacy, and accessibility are important aspects which every educator needs to evaluate carefully before letting students learn with digital classrooms. 

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