MyData Giving Learners Control over Their Own Data
Imagine having all of your education records in a Gem housed in your own data vault, conveniently at your fingertips and ready for reuse in your private, personal network.
In January 2012 the U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology announced the MyData initiative to encourage schools, education organizations, and software vendors to allow students to access and download their own data maintained by those sources. The larger idea is that students could compile and reuse the records in order to build a personal learning profile.
Where MyData functionality is provided, on websites and in products, a MyData “button” appears. After users log in and access their data, they can click the MyData button to generate and download a machine-readable text version. That data can then be shared or saved to a “data locker,” an online storage service or application developed for this purpose. The recipient is then able to pull the data into MyData-compatible systems without having to do any kind of manual conversion.
During the initial release of MyData, parents have access to information on student schedules, attendance, emergency contacts, grades, demographics, and assignments. Sometime in 2013 additional data is expected to be accessible: health, conduct, assessment test scores, and individual education programs.
The MyData project doesn’t specify what data standard educational providers should use; it simply states it should be any suitable “machine-readable standard,” all of which can use existing XML schemas. Suggestions specifically include SIF, PESC, and the IMS Global Learning Consortium.
MyData may be the first “deposit” most families make into their children’s personal learning profiles, a kind of digital portfolio that could eventually include college records, professional certifications, career achievements, digital samples of work, and other kinds of material that reflect life pursuits.
This project attempts to eliminate the delays that occur when a student needs to access personal data; for example, when changing schools, applying for financial aid, or applying for college. Those delays can put a student’s learning progress or application process on hold until school personnel have access to the records and can share them with the student. The use of MyData-compatible information would allow that data to be more portable; all that’s required is for the student or the student’s family to make it available to the receiving party.
Students and families are already beginning to pilot the use of MyData as data systems implement a MyData download option. A number of Department of Defense (DoD) schools for military families are acting as pilots for MyData. The students in those families have to transfer frequently, and the MyData project would eliminate delays in transferring student records by making student data more portable. Currently, as part of the pilot, the data is maintained on government information systems, and parents request access to it through the DoD.
The Department of Defense pilot will continue through the 2013-2014 school year. Eventually, as the MyData button function appears on school sites and within applications, families will be able to access more varied types of data through the MyData project as well. MyData will provide families with access to their children’s data, including:
- Contact names and phone numbers
- Daily attendance
- Unofficial transcripts
- Student performance data
- Subscription details for school or district notifications
Anyone filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form electronically through the U.S. Department of Education can download their completed form in a machine-readable MyData download file. Existing personal data storage vault providers, such as Personal.com and Microsoft’s HealthVault, are able to recognize and import these data files, which students can then choose to use to auto-fill additional college, scholarship, and grant application forms. For students with parents who do not speak English or who are absent, this has significant implications for their college selection and affordability. If the student can receive help from a guidance counselor or trusted adult in filling out the FAFSA form one time, the MyData file empowers that same student to navigate and complete many additional forms on his own.
ETS, in cooperation with StraighterLine, commits to offer test takers and students secure, timely and electronic access to their iSkills assessment and ETS Proficiency Profile data via a “MyData Button.” Both organizations commit to working in a voluntary fashion with others in the education technology industry to reach consensus on standardizing this process to encourage
its reuse by third party application developers.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt commits to providing more transparency into student achievement by giving parents and students the ability to download, via a “MyData Button”, performance data from their platform in a machine-readable format.
Pearson commits to support the “MyData Button” initiative being announced today. Pearson already offers parents access to download their child’s record of learning through the PowerSchool student information system’s parent portal, and, by the end of the year, will provide this capability through the GradeSpeed grade book parent portal. The “MyData Button” initiative aligns with Pearson’s long-standing pledge to provide secure access to the data that can help educators and families create and manage a path of personalized learning for every child.
Microsoft commits to creating a cloud-based platform for a Lifelong Learning Record (LLR). By building on the success of HealthVault they can accelerate this work. Developers and partners will be able to use the open, cross-platform HealthVault application programming interface (API) to build “apps” in support of individual learners, facilitating an ecosystem of services that help students not only manage their lifelong learning profile, but also use it in novel ways—for example, automatically demonstrating proof of competency in a work setting, or earning academic achievements and reputation points with peers.
Parchment, with a mission to unleash education credentials by unlocking the critical data they embody, commits to implementing a “MyData Button” to help students securely store, aggregate, and put their education data to work in their personal credential account. Parchment further commits to work in a collaborative manner with others in the education technology industry to standardize the format, as well as to encourage its reuse by third-party application developers.
Personal, which gives individuals the tools to create a private, personal network built on a secure data vault where they can aggregate, manage and control access to their data and online identity when connecting with people, companies and organizations, commits to joining the effort to liberate student data records. Personal’s platform will allow individuals to easily import their own education records into their data vault and grant secure access to trusted recipients.
When learner data is stored and shared in a common data standard (or template), information created by one tool or service can be consumed by another, and vice versa. Ultimately, this means being able to download this week’s test scores from your school and import them into an adaptive online tutoring application that knows exactly how to help you bump up that B+ in physics.
U.S. Department of Education website
Fox, C., Schaffhauser, D., Fletcher, G., & Levin, D. (2013). Transforming Data to Information in Service of Learning. Washington, DC: State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA).