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iOS 7 to Remove Major Education Roadblock

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was passed in 1998 to protect children online, but the result has often been that children under 13 years of age are excluded from online services. Service providers are required to obtain parental consent for children under 13 in order to collect their personal information, but it’s often not worth the effort, so many providers, such as Facebook, ban young children entirely.

As Adam Engst previously detailed in “How COPPA Teaches Children to Lie” (15 November 2011), this legislation and its unintended consequences have been a huge roadblock to computing in education, forcing children and parents to falsify age data to access useful services. Unfortunately, schools can’t get away with breaking the law so blatantly, so Apple services such as iTunes U and iCloud have been off-limits to elementary and middle-school classes where children are under 13, despite heavy adoption of the iPad for educational use.

Fortunately, education expert Bradley Chambers has discovered a solution that Apple is promising for iOS 7. Apple’s iOS 7 and education page includes this tidbit:

Students with Apple ID can have an enhanced personal experience with access to great online services like iTunes U, iCloud backup, and the ability to receive licenses in the new Volume Purchase Program. And now schools will have a program to facilitate Apple obtaining verifiable parental consent for personal Apple IDs for students under age 13.

This is fantastic news for educators, and being able to use iTunes U content in schools could be a game changer at many different levels. As Chambers said, “this is a very big deal.”

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