At Outschool we care deeply about our learners’ safety and privacy. We know that the educators who use our platform do, too. There are many ways that we protect learners on our platform, ranging from limiting what personal data our learners share to requiring that our educators report any child abuse a learner shares with them.
To that end, Outschool’s class approval process takes into account learners’ privacy rights when determining which external teaching tools are appropriate for our learners to access and to use while taking an Outschool class. This includes external websites or learning management systems. We do this both because we care but more importantly because there are legal requirements (COPPA) that dictate what external teaching tools may be used with learners under 13 years old, and what we as a company must do to ensure that parents properly consent to their children using those tools. Below is a more detailed explanation of what measures we take to comply with COPPA, and what it means for our educator community. This policy is announced in November of 2021 and will go into effect January 1, 2022.
How We Stand for Learners
Outschool takes measures to build safety and security into our learners’ experiences. While we want our learners to build strong communities and connections at Outschool, we also want to protect their data that they choose to share with us. Further, the law requires this. The FTC enacted COPPA in order to place parents in control of what information is collected from their young children (under 13) online. COPPA was in part designed because of the belief and research indicating that younger children may lack the ability to fully understand what happens to their personal data when they share it online. For example, a website attracting children under 13 might encourage children to create accounts and share their email addresses, so that the children can earn “points” to use on the site; that website could then improperly use those email addresses to market their products to children, or even sell those email addresses to other websites who would then target those children. Those deceptive practices resulted in more stringent practices and requirements that parents play a larger role in overseeing their children’s online interactions.
What that essentially means is that online platforms for children under 13, like ours, must explicitly tell parents what data we collect from their learners, what happens to that data, and how they can access and/or delete that data. It is critical that Outschool provide parents with accurate information about what data their children share and what happens to that data so that parents can make informed decisions about whether their children can or should share their data.
Similarly, those requirements apply to any websites or learning management systems that Outschool educators use with learners under 13 during their classes. It’s critical that educators who use our platform are transparent and proactively flag in their class descriptions which external teaching resources they’ve selected. This is because we want to proactively tell parents what websites their children will access, and give parents the opportunity to assess whether they want to allow those websites to collect data from their children, as well as provide consent to such practices. We want to avoid the situation where an educator sends learners to a website and that website collects data from those learners and misuses it, without parent involvement.
We’ve therefore refined our processes in order to help educators pick enriching resources that are also approved for learners to use. Below is an explanation of how the class submission process works where an educator wants to use external teaching resources.
Policies for Using 3rd Party Tools
If you’re using an external website or LMS platform that your learners will be expected to visit, you must indicate what resources you’d like to use so that parents who enroll their children can make informed decisions about third-party platform use of their child’s data. Be sure to also add a parental guidance statement for each tool not previously approved by our team. Inform families of any relevant information, such as how the tool will be used and whether or not an account is required.
When choosing your external resource, you will see that Outschool has a list of approved resources in product that are appropriate for our learners, including those under 13 years old. To simplify the process, we’ve organized resources into categories, with relevant websites and platforms grouped into each. Those categories are: (1) video resources; (2) instructional resources; (3) video gaming; (4) learning management systems; (5) instructional workspace. Note that while YouTube is not intended for visit and use by children under 13 (and thus a non-COPPA compliant resource), Outschool has developed a way for educators to use YouTube videos in their classes in a legally compliant way. All educators need to do is add the YouTube link to their Classroom Post – Outschool embeds the link on its platform so that learners remain on the Outschool platform and don’t access the YouTube website.
If you choose an Outschool-approved resource that is appropriate for children under 13, BUT requires either a teacher or parent to create an account and to provide informed consent, Outschool will flag this requirement for parents. This ensures that parents have time to provide proper consent before class starts. Outschool will also proactively remind parents prior to class start with an email reminder.
If you’ve indicated that your class is for learners under 13 AND your selected resource is not compliant for learners under 13, you will see a message that you cannot use said resource. This non-compliant site will appear on our “banned list” (see below).
We want to offer our educators as broad a list of resources as possible, but will always need to make sure that resources’ current policies are legally compliant. As such, we will periodically update the Outschool-approved resources selection, and notify you in our monthly policy newsletter. If you have suggestions for other third-party services you’d like Outschool to consider for review and approval, please fill out this form.
How to Add a Resource to Your Outschool Class
Provided that you’ve met the requirements above, you’ll be able to disclose the resources you’ll be using in class when you set up your class listing. Make sure to add each resource that will be used separately.
Unapproved resources for kids under 13
Note: This list of unapproved resources is only applicable if you are trying to send learners to these external websites or resources. You can use materials--such as Teachers Pay Teachers or Vimeo--in your classroom presentations and lectures as long as you are not linking to them or giving learners under 13 a way to click in to any of these sites.
Hands Up Education
Home with Hollie
Learn Piano Live
Quantum Physics for Kids
Teachers Pay Teachers
Trade on Target
Vimeo (impermissible for under 16)