Initial Publication Date: June 30, 2006

SERC Privacy Statement

Updated 3/28/2011

SERC (Science Education Resource Center) is committed to respecting the privacy of those who visit our websites, and those who choose to subscribe or register for information, services, SERC activities, or SERC events. Many of the websites hosted by SERC are run by collaborating groups which may have their own privacy policies and practices. This document outlines the ways in which SERC collects personal data and how that information is used internally and shared with others.

Personal information you share with us explicitly through a form

When you share personal information through forms on the site we will use it in ways that are consistent with that original purpose

There are thousands of forms across SERC-hosted sites many of which collect some sort of personal information (your name, address, etc...). Each has its own purpose. It may be an application for a workshop, a survey, or the submission of an activity to be shared with the community. We will use your information in ways that are consistent with purpose for which you provided it. For example: workshop registration information might be shared with the workshop conveners and names and institutions of participants might posted on a public page about the workshop. Results from a survey would be accessible to an evaluator but only aggregate results would be made available to the larger community. If you have questions about how data from a particular form will be used please ask.

Data shared through forms may be used and reported in aggregate by SERC and collaborating projects

SERC, the PIs on projects supported by SERC, and other collaborators also use information from on-line forms (e.g. surveys, workshop registration, evaluation, feedback) for project evaluation and in scholarly work, publications and presentations primarily about 1) topics in education, science education, geoscience education or faculty professional development and 2) SERC projects. The data are typically used in aggregate and no individuals are identified. In some cases, examples drawn from participants responses are presented anonymously. In other cases, attribution is given with the individual's permission. You may opt-out of having information submitted in forms shared by contacting at any time.

Data on your interaction with the SERC site

As with most websites SERC collects data about site use: what pages are being viewed. In some cases it may be possible to correlate a particular use of the site with a particular individual at which point questions about the privacy of those data become relevant. There are several ways in which data are collected while you are using our site. Many of the concerns people have about privacy on the web have to do with a technology called cookies. We suggest you read up on what they are, how they work and what the privacy implications are.

The AddThis Service enables and tracks social network sharing of materials from SERC-hosted sites

Some SERC-hosted sites have a social networking toolbar that allows people to easily share or 'like' the page they're viewing through social networking sites (e.g. Facebook). As part of this free service AddThis uses 3rd party cookies to track how this sharing spreads through social networks. If you are not interested in using these sharing features you may opt out of the AddThis service entirely.

SERC uses the Google Analytics Service to understand overall use of the its sites.

Google Analytics provides tools that track overall use of SERC sites. This helps us understand trends and popularity of different content on our site. Google Analytics only reports aggregate data, not individual use. Google Analytics uses 1st party cookies which aren't able to track use across multiple sites. For more information and opt-out instructions see the Google Analytics Privacy page.

When you login to your SERC Account your visit is recorded in a cookie

If you choose to have a SERC account our servers use cookies to keep track of when you are logged in. This use of cookies is intrinsic to using a SERC account, which may be required for full participation in the site (e.g. to post to a discussion or share an activity). This information is used internally to enable your use of your account.

SERC also uses cookies for internal tracking of site use which may be correlated with demographic data submitted through forms

In addition to the general site use data provided by Google Analytics SERC uses its own 1st party cookies to build a more detailed picture of how our sites are used. In some cases we may correlate these site use data with demographic data gathered through forms.

This internal tracking is used to improve the site and understand its aggregate impact on the communities it serves
We collect this more detailed data for two purposes. First, as we continually work to improve our sites these data gives us insight into where improvements can be best targeted. For instance if we see that k12 teachers are visiting our site but consistently missing an important k12 collection we can change links and navigation to make it more likely they will find materials of value. Second, it's critical that we construct a clear and compelling picture of the impact our site has on its user communities. This is necessary both internally so that we have a sense of how we are progressing toward our project goals, but also so we can continue to make a strong case to our funders about the efficacy of the site and so ensure its continued existence. The web data don't provide the entire story about the impact of our sites. But they are a very important piece of the puzzle.

While these data have the potential to identify web use by individuals they are not used in this way internally nor are they shared in any way that would allow others to learn about use by individuals.

In theory the data we collect could be used to reconstruct use of the site by particular individuals. However, it is only the aggregate use patterns that are relevant in our work to improve the site and understand its impact. And, while your use of an educational website may not be at the top of your list of things to keep private we think it is better if those data are kept private: both for you and us. So, we will not share the data with outside groups in any form that would allow them to discern use of the site by individuals. Additionally, as we work with the data we will purposely avoid any analysis which would allow us to see (even inadvertently) particular uses of the site by identifiable individuals. Finally, if you are still not comfortable with this sort of tracking (but would like to continue to use SERC-hosted site) you may use this tool to opt out of this tracking entirely.

SERC reserves the right to change this policy. Changes will be announced via the website.

If you have any questions about this privacy statement or the practices of SERC, please contact Please include your name, address and email address when you contact us.