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How safe is that web app? New HISD report card tool tells the story

2016 February 10
by HISD Communications

Whether it’s by delivering presentations using avatars or creating timelines to better understand history lessons, teachers and students use dozens of web applications (“apps”) each day to make learning more fun and engaging.

But just how safe are these apps in terms of data privacy, and what do their creators do with the personal information they collect? The answers can often be found in the applications’ privacy policies, but sometimes a quick scan doesn’t reveal less-obvious dangers. 

To make life easier for HISD educators, the district’s Education Technology Department has created a collection of “report cards” on its website for some of the most commonly used apps. Each one has both a thumbnail overview, which can be easily seen by rolling over a particular app’s logo, and a one-page report containing more detailed information. Both tools allow teachers to make better-informed decisions about which apps they wish to use in the classroom —and which to avoid all together.

“These report cards are based on a privacy, safety, and security rubric we developed in partnership with Common Sense Media, the Future of Privacy Forum, and the Council of Great City Schools (CGCS) districts,” explained Education Technology Specialist Kevin Lewis. “Teachers don’t have time to read through privacy policies from beginning to end, so we have done that part for them.”

“We hope to create an environment in which teachers can feel free to be creative with their instruction, but still have protection,” added Director of Information Technology Beatriz Arnillas.

Currently, there are 35 applications in the report card collection, but more will be added as their reviews become available. You can find the collection at

To submit an app for review by the Education Technology team, email a request to

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