The Ministry of Education (MOE) has reportedly announced that Device Management Application (DMA) will be made compulsory for installation on students’ learning devices, be it personal devices or devices loaned from the school, for home-based learning purposes.
The application comprises three main functions – namely classroom management, mobile device management and user management – which would allow schools to control and monitor the device.
It also enables educators to remotely deploy programs at their own discretion and restrict the usage of the devices.
In an earlier report, TOC highlighted that schools were informed that the DMA has to be installed in all students’ devices before they can be used for teaching and learning purposes. Parents are to be briefed about this.
It was said that students can loan a learning device from the school during school hours, in the events where parents declined the installation of DMA on their child’s personal device.
On the question of who manages parental control on the device, it was noted that the school should be the one to maintain control and that the school has autonomy in structuring the control of device management.
For example, the school can enable parental controls after school hours, during the weekends, and on school holidays, thus giving parents the option to control and manage the device.
However, it is explicitly stated that parents would not be able to override the base restrictions set by the school.
With the DMA, the school and teachers can decide which applications can be installed on students’ devices. They can block “inappropriate websites with adult and extremist content”, as well as restrict gaming websites and applications.
The DMA will also enable teachers to monitor students usage of the device. Additionally, the discretion on what applications and websites are allowed or disallowed lies with the school.
Meanwhile, the MOE’s announcement has prompted one Singapore student to launch a petition on 23 January, urging the Ministry to halt its plan to implement the DMA on students’ laptops.
The student argued that the application could potentially put students’ information and data at risk, given that hackers can easily access the data if the program is breached.
“We students are unhappy that the MOE requires such a program to be installed on our PLDs, be it our personal ones or one’s purchases from the school, due to how little control, freedom, and privacy we have,” said the student.
The petition has garnered 2,487 signatories at the time of writing, with many signatories citing the unfairness of having to bear the high cost of these devices out of their own pockets yet having to relinquish control over the devices to the school.
On Reddit specifically, many netizens voiced their disagreement with the MOE’s requirement to install the DMA on students’ personal laptops as they perceived it as a way of being “forced” by the Ministry.
One netizen opined that the MOE’s move is “abit too much” for making the installation of the DMA compulsory on students’ own learning devices.
“Pretty sure typical govt orgs [organisations] like MOE is still making budget their number 1 concern, that’s why they come up with this slipshod solution instead of providing every student with a MOE issued device,” said the netizen.
Given that some families are using only one computer in a household, a netizen asked if the DMA would affect the files or data stored by family members on the computer.
“It is unlikely a teacher would abuse this. It is unlikely MOE would abuse this. However, all it would take is for one ‘siao-lang’ or some overzealous administrator to cause immense damage,” he wrote.
One netizen highlighted the main concern is whether the school would be “remotely competent” to protect the system.
One netizen questioned the rights of a civil servant over a citizen’s personal property, noting that the MOE must “feels justified” to have such control over students’ personal devices.
He added that some students may be using a family-owned computer for home-based learning, which contains “sensitive information”.
“If I were a parent, I’d be horrified to know that I must surrender such unfettered access of my family PC to some civil servant,” said the netizen.
Citing the case of a school in the United States – in which the school was accused of spying on students via Web cameras installed in students’ laptops – one netizen raised concern on the impact of allowing teachers take control of the students’ personal devices.