I recently presented at the Michigan Association of School Psychologist’s fall conference about technology for School Psychologists. There were a few key points that I made during our conversation that need to be made early on in this blog and I’ll probably have to made a “disclaimer” page too just so new visitors to the blog will have a frame of reference.
- The iPad I use is my personal iPad. I view it has my personal notebook and the notes contained within it, my personal notes. Items I choose to make a part of a student’s educational record are either included in my reports or printed off and placed in a student’s file. As school mental health professionals I think we can all understand my view of this being a personal notebook. I of-course still question whether many items are worth writing down.
- While the protections of information are not perfect on an iPad or any other mobile device I do believe it is better than what I was using before. I never carried around a spiral bound notebook with a lock on it and there was not anything keeping me from leaving my notebook in a room, building, office, etc. I read somewhere, and I wish I could remember where because I’d like to give them credit, but to expect iron clad protection is really unreasonable because we certainly did not have iron clad protection before technology. If someone wants to access confidential information badly enough, they’ll find a way regardless if the information in stored on a mobile device or written down on a piece of paper.
- I don’t have all the answers about level of confidentiality for different services. There aren’t any best practices currently. When considering a new piece of technology whether it be service, app, hardware, software, make an informed decision and use NASP’s Principles for Professional Ethics to think through your decision. When we make choices without utilizing NASP’s ethics principles we leave ourselves open to trouble.
- When you choose to use a tool do everything in your power to protect information. The easiest way to do this to have strong passwords. Have a hierarchy of passwords based the type of information you’re storing and protecting. Check the strength of your password using a tool such as Password Meter. Also get in the habit of changing and rotating passwords on a regular basis such as every three months. Obviously its hard to remember all your passwords if you’re regularly changing them and you’re using really strong passwords so find a system either low-tech or high-tech to keep track of your passwords.
- Finally, consult your employers policies. We know that often policies and procedures don’t always match laws, regulations, and ethical guidelines, so do your best to reconcile differences and maybe take advantage of an opportunity to advocate for students or your role as a mental health provider.
I hope this information doesn’t scare you off or keep you from considering whether a tool is a good fit for you in your role. I’m trying my best to understand more and more which tools and services are meeting the high standards we must uphold. Keep checking back and I hope to have more information as this rapidly developing area of technology evolves.