New Delhi: The government has issued an advisory to parents regarding the use of caution against educational technology (ed-tech) companies. “Given the ubiquitous impact of technology in education, many ed-tech companies have started offering online courses, tutorials, coaching for competitive exams, etc. Be careful when choosing online content and coaching offered by a large number of Ed-tech companies,” the Ministry of Human Resource Development said in a statement on Thursday.
The opinion stated that the offer of free services – promised by some companies – should be carefully evaluated.
“The Department of School Education and Literacy has noticed that some ed-tech companies are enticing parents to offer free services and have the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) sign or activate the direct debit feature, especially targeting the vulnerable families,” it added.
Here are the full details of the Center for Parents’ advice:
* Avoid direct debit for payment of subscription fees as some ed-tech companies offer the free premium business model, where many of their services may seem free at first glance, but to get ongoing learning access, students should opt for a paid subscription.
* Please read terms and conditions (T&C) before confirming acceptance of learning software/device as your IP address and/or personal information may be tracked.
* Request a tax invoice for the purchase of educational devices after a detailed background check of the ed-tech company you wish to subscribe to.
* Ensure that the content provided is consistent with the syllabus and your study size and is easy for your child to understand.
* Clarify any doubts or questions regarding payment and content before investing any amount of money for your child’s learning in an ed-tech company.
* Enable parental controls and safety features as it helps restrict access to certain content and limits spending on app purchases.
* Record evidence of spam calls or forced enrollment in education packages without full permission to file a complaint.
* Before using any ed-tech platform, read the child safety guidelines mentioned in the PRAGYATA guidelines of the Ministry of Education.
* Do not blindly rely on advertisements and sign up for loans. Also, avoid installing ed-tech mobile applications without verifying their authenticity.
* Avoid registering credit or debit cards and set an upper limit on spending per transaction.
* Do not submit your information online as it can be sold or used for later scam attacks.
* Avoid sharing personal videos and photos and be careful not to enable the video feature or make video calls on an unverified platform.
* Do not subscribe to unverified courses and do not rely on the “Success Stories” shared without proper checking.
* Avoid in-app purchases. OTP based (one time password) payment methods can be used.
* Do not share your bank account information or open attachments or pop-up screens.
The ministry said: “Ed-tech companies have seen rapid growth, increasing the number of students or educators subscribing to their learning platform. The increasing number also means platforms should be cautious about claims about the services offered.”
It also shared advertising guidelines for ed-tech companies. “The ad must not state or lead the public to believe that any institution or course or program is officially, recognised, authorized, accredited, approved, registered, affiliated, endorsed or has any legally defined situation unless the advertiser can substantiate with evidence.” it further stated.