The Challenges of Easy Data Access
Tactical student data privacy questions like “What can I do right now?” should be asked by all CIO’s, teachers, administrators and policymakers in this changing landscape of data access, student privacy and interoperability. In a recent edWebinar, Dr. Larry Fruth, Executive Director and CEO of the Access 4 Learning (A4L) Community, and Jena Draper, Founder and General Manager at CatchOn, discussed head on the challenges school districts face with data access and student privacy. Dr. Fruth suggests that school districts hit the ground running by adding privacy components and security before it becomes a “What should I do right now?” situation. Draper adds to this suggestion by asserting that school districts need to look at data access from all angles, from the outer layer of the infrastructure to the rogue apps used in classrooms, to create a sound data access and student data privacy plans.
The Balancing Act
Fruth describes this new data access landscape as a teeter-totter effect. One end is where all parties gain open access to student data and the other end where no one has access to student data. Open access to data has the potential to violate student data privacy regulations and closed access to data has the potential to lock everything down. The “sweet spot” of data access is critical in the environment where data is no longer used in a silo but used in data conversations around graduation rates, college readiness, and career pathways. The challenge, as highlighted by Fruth, is how much data should be accessible to the stakeholders. If they have access to too much data, it will feel overwhelming, and if they don’t have enough access, they don’t feel empowered to do what they need to do. For student interoperability frameworks, Fruth explains that the goal is to create a simple data exchange across all the different applications in a digital ecosystem. The reality of interoperability is that data exchange can seem to be simple but is complex. However, no matter how involved and complicated the data management issues are, it needs to be managed, moved and secured as school districts go through daily operations.
It’s What You Don’t Know
“The tools you are buying are not the ones you should be most concerned [about]. The tools school districts should be most concerned about are the ones they don’t even know are being used” said Draper. She pointed out that currently there are 3,500 edtech apps available for classroom use, but there are many more tools and apps that teachers and students are finding on their own. These “rogue” apps are collecting student data and have the potential to be harmful to students and schools. School leaders should monitor data access in their district by communicating with teachers about the list of district-approved apps and educating them on the district, state or region privacy policies and regulation. By understanding which tools and apps have access to student data, districts can prioritize and build a safe student data privacy practice that is in line with their technology strategy.
According to Draper, since 2013, there have been over 500 student data privacy bills proposed in the United States, and this number is expected to double in 2019. States are increasing their legislation and organizations such as CoSN and SETDA are doing work around helping districts “get their teeth around” creating sound student data policies. Access to student data is a hot topic in New York, Florida, and Louisiana where legislators have created laws that specifically identify what school districts need to understand about what information is going out and what apps have access to their data.
This article was modified and published by eSchool News.
About the Presenters
Dr. Larry Fruth II is currently the executive director and CEO of the Access 4 Learning (A4L) Community. A4L is an independent non-profit membership organization comprised of over 3,200 software vendors and educational institutions whose mission is to support the identification, management, movement, and usage of learning information within the education sector. Dr. Fruth has over 30 years of experience in teaching and learning as a classroom teacher/professor, curriculum and professional development designer, and state and federal policymaker. He has worked with two White House administrations, international government education agencies and marketplace providers in advising on strategies and policies in the development of longitudinal data systems to leverage previous and current technology investments. Most recently Dr. Fruth served as a director for the Ohio Department of Education where he oversaw development of Technology Academic Content Standards, a state educational technology director designee, and the lead for various federal programs as well as pointing various pK-16 partnership initiatives.
Jena Draper is the founder and general manager at CatchOn, a company designed to support teaching and learning through the smarter use of data and technology. In 2016, she created CatchOn to help districts meet and adapt to changing instructional needs and trends through the use of real-time data and cutting-edge technology. Jena is passionate about improving how students learn with technology.
About the Host
Monica Cougan joined ENA in 2012, where she currently serves as the product marketing manager. Bringing over 30 years of experience in technology integration, Monica oversees ENA’s partner program and product marketing initiatives. Monica’s prior work with education and the integration of technology in schools and districts helps guide ENA’s work with education partners offering outstanding programs to schools. She has extensive experience in building collaborative network opportunities specifically video conferencing and collaborative technologies. Monica continues to support national organizations advocating for the effective use of technology and supporting the needs of our education and library communities.
Join the Community
Leadership and Innovation is a free professional learning community on edWeb.net that serves as an online forum for collaboration on leadership and innovation in schools to meet the needs of the next generation.
ENA delivers robust and reliable broadband, Wi-Fi/LAN, communication, and cloud services to K–12 schools, higher education institutions, and libraries across the nation. We work side-by-side with our customers to ensure they have the connectivity, communication, and collaboration solutions they need to be successful.
CatchOn is a user-friendly data analytics tool that collects real-time data on every device, enabling school districts to make data-informed decisions about the apps and online tools their educators and students are using. In 2018, CatchOn joined forces with ENA, a leading provider of comprehensive technology solutions to education institutions and libraries across the nation. Collectively, CatchOn and ENA leverage their respective resources and expertise to deliver critical services and solutions that help school districts produce positive outcomes in the communities they serve.