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OVIC publishes examination report into digital learning tools at Victorian government schools

While digital learning tools present valuable opportunities for the Victorian education system, these technologies can pose privacy risks.

Information Commissioner Sven Bluemmel has published a report on an examination into the use of digital learning tools in Victorian government primary schools, and how privacy issues are managed when these tools are selected and used.

In Victoria, government schools are required by the Information Privacy Principles (IPPs) in the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic) (PDP Act) to maintain the privacy of children when using tools that will collect, hold, manage, use, disclose or transfer personal information about those children.

The examination involved collecting information from the Department of Education (DET) and four government primary schools to understand how digital learning tools are being used from Prep to Year 6.

OVIC found that digital learning tools were a feature of students’ everyday classroom life. The spread of COVID-19 has forced many Victorian schools to deliver lessons remotely, and schools have been increasingly reliant on these tools.

Schools are obliged to consider privacy when selecting digital learning tools. However, in some cases schools are selecting and using digital learning tools without properly considering privacy risks.

OVIC has called on DET to provide more support to schools to help them protect the privacy of their students. Our examination found that schools would benefit from more assistance to ensure they comply with their privacy obligations.

This could involve providing more technical support and improving communication with parents and carers on the use of digital learning tools.

Addressing privacy risks associated with digital learning tools and improving communication with parents and carers will increase levels of trust in the community. Improving public trust will enhance the effectiveness of digital learning tools by helping parents and carers feel more confident in using these tools.

By publishing this examination report, OVIC aims to help parents, carers and members of the community understand how Victorian government schools use digital learning tools.

OVIC recognises and thanks DET and the schools for their cooperation and willingness to respond constructively throughout this examination. DET has committed to enhance the support and guidance it provides to schools through privacy impact assessments.

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