By Rickie Yudin / April 10, 2018

Fundamentals of EdData, Part 3: [Access Shouldn’t Yield Mistrust]

Throughout the Fundamentals in EdData series, we’ve been exploring schools’ data use. We often hear companies tout the similarities between how schools and businesses can use data to improve outcomes. Unfortunately, schools are particularly susceptible to data abuse, with student information finding its way beyond school walls. Unfortunately, schools aren’t immune to the dangers of technology products misrepresenting how data is used that exist beyond school walls.

For schools, this means inherent mistrust about giving people access to information. Internally, schools and educators rightfully become reluctant to share information with one another for fear of how it might be misused or misrepresented. Externally, schools are similarly cautious about relationships they build with partners out of concern for what they might do with our data. As a result, information gets siloed, analyses are limited, and outcomes are shortchanged. Educators are subsequently forced to make decisions with less than complete information and as a result, they and their students are at a deficit.

These barriers don’t have to exist and schools can safely use data to its fullest extent with these 3 ideas:

  1. Free for you means cost for someone else – if you aren’t paying for access to a system, someone else is. Once that happens, there is a risk you will find yourself paying a huge premium to keep the resources you’ve put into the platform, or dealing with a 3rd party who has unapproved access to your data. Cost should never be a barrier, but if you aren’t paying for access to your data, it’s likely someone else is buying it. At what cost is something free?
  2. Focus your needs and limit your sharing – if you can’t keep track of your data, it’s easy to put your data security, privacy, and fidelity at risk. Only ask your partners to access what you need them to access. If they are asking for access to more than that, start asking yourself “is my organization/are my students safe with the data in this 3rd party’s hands?”
  3. Let your people drive the agenda – give access to the people in your building who need it and let those people decide what the agenda should be.  

If you think about who might be buying your data, what is being accessed, and who is accessing it, you should be able to closely monitor your schools’ information and protect yourself. With that comes a trusted environment of intentional data stewardship and improved outcomes.

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