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Updated May 18, 2018

ExploreLearning Gizmos

  • Privacy polices do indicate a version or effective date.
  • Data are not sold or rented to third parties.
  • Data are not shared for advertising or marketing.
  • Unclear whether this product displays behavioral or contextual advertising.
  • Unclear whether this product allows data collection by third-party advertising or tracking services.
  • Unclear whether this product uses data to track and target advertisements on other third-party websites or services.
  • Unclear whether this product allows third parties to use data to create ad profiles, data enhancement, and/or targeted advertisements.
The criteria for "Use with Caution" are narrowly focused around data uses related to creating profiles that aren't related to any educational purpose, and using data to target ads. We include both first party (ie, the vendor that builds the service) and third party (any company given access by the vendor) data use. It's worth highlighting that using data to profile students violates multiple state laws, and in some cases also violates federal law.

A service can be designated "Use with Caution" for either a lack of transparency around data use -- which creates the potential for profiling and behavioral targeting -- or for clearly stating that they use data to target advertisements and/or create profiles. As with any application being considered for use within schools, school and/or district staff should review the privacy policies and terms of service to ensure that they meet the legal and practical requirements of their state laws and school policies.

As with the "Not Recommended" criteria, a "Use with Caution" designation is NOT a sign that a vendor is necessarily doing anything unethical or illegal. It is a sign that, based on publicly available policies,  we do not have adequate guarantees that data will not be used by first or third parties to create non-educational profiles or to target behavioral ads.
Use with Caution
Full evaluation
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Overall Scoreinfo-bubble

This overall score represents how the service addressed all our evaluation questions. A higher score (up to 100) means the service provides more transparent and comprehensive policies.

Overview

ExploreLearning Gizmos is a web based library of standards aligned math and science simulations for grades 3-12. The terms of ExploreLearning Gizmos do not address social interactions of any kind although message boards, lesson plans and other posting areas are mentioned. ExploreLearning collects minimal personally identifiable information and uses it exclusively for the purpose running the site. According to terms, no data is shared with third parties. COPPA and FERPA are both addressed but without specific compliance details. Terms do explicitly state that ExploreLearning does not knowingly collect data from students under 13.

ExploreLearning Gizmos can be accessed through its website. It is a predominately HTML5 (some flash) web based platform and there is no mobile app available. The Privacy Policy and Terms of Service used for this evaluation can be found on ExploreLearning Gizmo's’ website. This evaluation only considers policies that have been made publicly available prior to an individual using the application or service.

Read the Common Sense standard privacy report (SPR)arrow
The standard privacy report (SPR) displays the most important privacy practices from a product’s polices in a single easy-to-read outline. The report displays an alert when a particular privacy practice is risky, unclear, or not evaluated. This alert indicates more time should be focused on these particular details prior to use.
SafetyPromoting responsible use
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Evaluating safety takes into consideration best practices that protect a user's physical and emotional health. A higher score (up to 100) means the service provides more transparent and comprehensive responses related to safety.
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The terms of ExploreLearning Gizmos do not address social interactions of any kind. The terms state that, except for vendor created content, ExploreLearning does not control and is not responsible for additional materials. Message boards, lesson plans, and other posting areas are mentioned, but it is unclear in the terms how these areas are accessed or used.

PrivacyProtecting collected information
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Evaluating privacy takes into consideration best practices that protect the disclosure of a user's personal information. A higher score (up to 100) means the service provides more transparent and comprehensive responses related to privacy.
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ExploreLearning Gizmo's terms state that they collect minimal personally identifiable information such as student name full name and identification number, teacher name, class, school name, and grade level. Student demographic data, for the purposes of optional reporting, is requested separately from the initial setup data and is obtained only with written permission from your district. Terms say that tracking technologies, cookies, and log files are also used for collecting information. Schools may elect to allow ExploreLearning to acquire assessment data from third parties. According to terms, ExploreLearning does not utilize third parties to provide products and does not share student data with any third parties. Lastly, the terms state that ExploreLearning may use aggregated data for research, product development, or marketing but there is no marketing directly to students within the platform.

SecurityProtecting against unauthorized access
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Evaluating security takes into consideration best practices that protect the integrity and confidentiality of a user's data. A higher score (up to 100) means the service provides more transparent and comprehensive responses related to security.
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The main site for ExploreLearning Gizmos is encrypted. Terms state that banking transactions are encrypted throughout but there is no mention of additional encryption for user data in transit or at rest. According to terms, the user retains control of student data at all times. ExploreLearning’s terms reference good faith efforts to maintain security and notification protocols if a security breach occurs.

ComplianceFollowing statutory laws and regulations
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Evaluating compliance takes into consideration best practices of companies that collect personal information from children or students and the legal obligations for the privacy and security of that information. A higher score (up to 100) means the service provides more transparent and comprehensive responses related to compliance.
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COPPA is addressed in the terms of ExploreLearning Gizmos and it is stated that ExploreLearning will not knowingly collect or use personally identifiable information from anyone under 13. FERPA is addressed although the “adopted certain practices” clause in the terms is not provided with any details. Terms state that the teacher and school retain control and ownership of student data and that the data collected will only be used for the purpose of using the site.

About Privacy Evaluations

The privacy evaluations have been designed with the help and support of a consortium of schools and districts across the United States. These evaluations are designed to streamline making an informed decision about the potential privacy implications of educational technology used to support teaching and learning.

Our core evaluation criteria are freely available and will remain freely available. People are encouraged to read the questions we use and the information security primer we released. Vendors are encouraged to use our questions and the information security primer to self-evaluate. You can also learn more about our evaluation process.

Please be in touch with any questions or feedback.