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As more postsecondary courses implement digital textbooks, publishers, in turn, are able to access more student data than ever before. Higher education leaders, however, report not having the information needed to combat the resulting student privacy concerns. To address this need and protect student data, we are proud to award a Michelson Spark Grant to SPARC.

Over the next year, SPARC will research the privacy policies and terms of service of major textbook publishers regarding the collection and use of  student data in higher education. Following their analysis, SPARC will also establish recommendations that higher educational leaders and institutions can implement to protect student data privacy on campus. SPARC will also establish a guide for changemakers and those who can influence privacy policies to easily reference.

Once established, the resources will become available to SPARC’s 250 member colleges in the United States and Canada and will be free for any interested parties to download. SPARC will also share the resources through webinars and presentations, resulting in the potential to dramatically improve the awareness of student data protection in higher education. 

“As digital products become increasingly popular, students often opt in without considering what data they’re sharing with the information owner and how the data may be used. While there are laws and regulations guiding the use of personal data, it is imperative that the higher education community collectively ensures student data isn’t turned into a means of furthering profit among publishers,” Cailyn Nagle, Michelson 20MM’s Open Educational Resources Program Manager shared. 

This grant also builds on SPARC’s prior InclusiveAccess.org work. Funded by a Michelson Spark Grant, InclusiveAccess.org provides institutions, educators, and students with resources and tools to determine if inclusive access makes sense for their campus. 

We are proud to support SPARC and their mission to ensure everyone can access and contribute to the knowledge that shapes our world. Over the coming year, we look forward to sharing the results of SPARC’s analysis and the best practices identified.

Michelson 20MM is a private, nonprofit foundation seeking to accelerate progress towards a more just world through grantmaking, operating programs, and impact investing. Co-chaired and funded by Alya and Gary Michelson, Michelson 20MM is part of the Michelson Philanthropies network of foundations.

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