When the pandemic began, schools across the country found themselves trying to adapt—sometimes overnight—to a brand-new way of teaching students. From elementary schools to universities, educational institutions at every level were challenged to make quick decisions about technology to help students and staff navigate unpredictable circumstances.
Now, nearly two years on, those early decisions are having unintended consequences. Schools are discovering that the way they’ve stored and managed data is leading to concerns around security, efficiency, and organization. They’re also looking more closely at whether solutions purchased with pandemic funds actually fit the job they were meant to do.
Furthermore, these data headaches are leading to analysis problems. With information scattered across multiple silos, schools are facing uncertainty. Can they trust what their own analysis shows? Or are they overlooking key data they’ve simply lost track of?
Data storage and security were complicated even before the pandemic. Now, for many schools and universities, they feel more intractable than ever. Fortunately, there’s a way forward.
What Data Storage and Security Problems Do Schools Face?
Schools are especially susceptible to issues caused by data being stored in disparate repositories with no easy way to aggregate it. For example, students may use Google Drive while teachers use a network shared drive even as administrators upload to the cloud. These different platforms and audiences lead to pieces of data being locked away in silos, making it very difficult to analyze them as a whole.
Security is also a major concern. For cybercriminals around the world, the pandemic was nothing short of a gift. Educational institutions have complex organizational charts with a variety of players—each with different levels of digital access. Unfortunately, this complexity can create vulnerability to data breaches and theft. When so much data is being stored without meticulous data management and a data strategy, schools and universities may not even be alerted to attacks, let alone mount an effective response. Bad news for not just for schools but for all the students, staff, and other stakeholders who trust them to protect their personal information.
What Data Storage and Security Solutions Exist for Schools and Universities?
Fortunately, evolving approaches will make it easier for schools to store data safely and more effectively. For instance, Google is making changes to its storage policies for schools using the Google Workspace for Education platform that will help alleviate some of these organization and security concerns. Google is also offering an upgraded version of their platform that allows schools access to more terabytes of storage space, making it even easier to aggregate data.
Training also goes a long way. Ensuring that everyone with data access also has been trained to utilize that data securely becomes more important as education data systems continue to be integrated more extensively. Student, parent, and staff data require the utmost care to avoid costly breaches and the compensation programs that follow. Data privacy and security practices, once firmly in place, require regular updating and thorough training programs that reach all those with access to school data.
Another option is to conduct a data assessment, which is often a good starting place for helping schools identify where their data is really stored, what that data actually is, and how to restructure their systems so all of that information is in one central location. A data assessment also might show actionable opportunities to shore up security and keep data safe.
While many schools have received additional pandemic funding to tackle their technology problems, knowing where to begin can be hard. We have a team of education-focused data experts who help schools identify the most effective and cost-efficient ways to upgrade their systems. By taking steps now, schools can change the way they protect and store data and find the insight they need from the data they have.
We help schools and universities move from data to insight. Learn more about our Actionable Assessments.