A recent report on edtech app usage in more than 100 K-12 school districts suggests that the introduction of the technology has established new security vulnerabilities and a need to tighten students’ data privacy practices.

Lightspeed Systems’ first Edtech App Report, which examined the use of technology across the United States in the 2021-2022 school year, found that most schools have more than 2,000 apps in use across their student population, but only 300 of those apps account for 99 percent of usage.

For example, the Google Workspace suite is the most used in the education sector, closely followed by YouTube, Clever, and Kahoot!.

Despite each student only engaging with a median of 72 distinct apps, according to the report, education IT leaders are still responsible for safeguarding students’ personally identifiable information on all apps – regardless of infrequent usage rates.

“The management of edtech has grown significantly more complex in recent years, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report said. “The role of IT leaders is more complex than ever before, and, as a result, the stakes are higher than ever, especially when it comes to safety, cybersecurity, student data privacy, and compliance.”

Additionally, Lightspeed Systems found that 91 percent of the apps had a median number of three privacy policy changes. The leading provider of student safety and education efficacy software suggested that states invest in tools to help districts do thorough reviews of apps’ policy changes in a timely and scalable fashion.

Finally, the report noted that students are vulnerable by the sheer volume of those (56 percent) who spend more than two hours of the school day in active digital learning. If education leaders are not able to properly mitigate risk factors through these apps, then the students’ privacy could be in danger.

Notably, education sectors – and especially those that are K-12 – remain a top priority for cybercrimes such as ransomware, due to the pandemic.

Chief Product Officer for Lightspeed Systems, Brook Bock, said in a press release, “Technology opens doors for students but also increases the IT management required by school districts. That is evident in the sheer volume of applications students use and the ever-changing privacy policies of those apps.”

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