VRT is Coming. Don't Be Afraid.

"VRT" is Spotlight's Video Reporting Technology, our proprietary method of turning education data into personalized videos. 

As a friend from Learning Heroes said recently, "in five years we won't even be talking about dashboards; we'll all be watching videos on our phones -- in our home languages."

VRT is exciting, but to many, perhaps cause for concern. You're going to create a video about my child - a video that will be online, for anyone to see?

Understandable. So let's look a bit more closely at just is shared with VRT -- and how it is shared. And let's compare it to...the status (paper) quo.

A parent receives a VRT-generated video via a link, texted to them through their district's parent-communication network. The video includes the first name of the student, and her test scores, or her grades. No other PII. The link could be...copied by the parent, and placed on Facebook -- of their own volition? Accessed by a nefarious foe who finds a parent's phone...cracks their password...and now -- can view a video with a first name and some grades?

Compare that to traditional paper reports -- typically mailed home, or handed to students. 

The report could fall on the school floor. Or end up in the wrong mailbox -- or could simply be stolen out of a mailbox. Do you feel completely confident about everything you drop in the mail?

Traditional reports have the student's first name...and their last. And their address. And the school they attend, and maybe their teacher's name. All of which can be photographed, and then put on Facebook (or Twitter, or Instagram...). Now we're beginning to see something that looks like a data breach.

We don't mean to make light: anything having to do with student data security is of utmost concern. But we do mean to make it clear: as we develop new ways to share academic insights with parents, let's not assume that "digital" always means "unsecure." In fact, digital means of sharing data can actually mean dramatically improved data privacy and security.