Security & Privacy:
With access comes responsibility, though. Some administrators have been wary that using third-party applications might lead to violations of federal student-privacy laws like the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, known as FERPA.
- Theresa Rowe, chief information officer at Oakland University, says her role is to act as a steward and protector of students' data. So she can't accept a lower standard of security from a third-party vendor than what she would use at her own institution.
Limited budgets also make it hard for some information-technology departments to take the time to build the kinds of open-data platforms that start-ups are clamoring for.
- Those costs might well be passed on to students, says Ms. Rowe. "Is it really worth it to have my students pay more tuition so that I have more funds to do projects that enable your business to be successful?" she asks of entrepreneurs who want colleges to wrestle data into application-friendly formats.
The point of focus moves to the kind of data processed. Michael D. Sessa, executive director of the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council, which works with vendors and institutions to hammer out digital standards for higher-education data, urges open-data advocates to draw a blueprint before building the house. Instead of focusing on mere access to data, he says, stakeholders need to determine what kind of data they want and what they'll be using it for.
"Can we figure out what's three steps down the road in this progression?" he asks. "Or do we have to go through every step every time?" The heightened interest in open data is good for higher education, he says, but start-ups need to do a better job of proving that students will benefit from using the companies' products.
MyData Technique Adoption :
- In the case of the MyData button being promoted by the Education Department, it's not clear how many different types of information will be made available, although the data will exist in machine-readable, open formats.
- Participants will be required to specify how the exported data are formatted. Because participants are not required to export data in an identical format, a department official explains, developers may have to do more work upfront, but the information will get into students' hands more quickly.
- At least one company, Fidelis Education, has committed itself to use the data students can download from the Veterans Administration's blue button.
- As an enterprise that helps veterans pursue higher education and training for civilian careers, Fidelis plans to use the blue button's military-service data in the admissions process to verify that applicants are who they claim to be.
- The blue button for health care was "very useful in that it got the ball rolling," Mr. Counselman says. But he would be disappointed if the type of education data made available were limited to course schedules and textbook information.
"The question of what's the power of open data is just a lot more fundamental than that," he says.
- No matter how much of consolation has made, still many believes that data exploitation in long term with cause privacy problems and leads to confrontation.
Institutions that have autonomy don't change overnight," he says. "So you start with what's easy, and then you keep the pressure on to get to the goal."
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