If anyone out there still hasn't heard, life as we know it is about to change - at least when it comes to the way in which we manage data and information in schools.
On May 25, 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), approved by the European Parliament back in 2016, will come into effect in an effort to better regulate the ways in which we collect, store and share personal or sensitive data. So, for those who are just finding out, here is a useful summary of what schools should already know.
With only 186 days to go, there's a lot of work to be done. As we move forward, however, here are five things about the future that I'm looking forward to.
We will have a clearer idea of what data we need to make good admissions decisions. We still tend to have a scattergun approach to admissions-based decision-making. We collect as much as we can and then see what is useful. The new regulation will ensure that we collect only what we need in order to build an effective profile of students applying to our schools.
We will know precisely how information flows through the organisation. Once we admit students, it is often anyone's guess as to how this information flows through the school. A clear mapping of our data pathways will not only increase data security, but hopefully eradicate those endless letters to parents requesting information we already possess. We will also have a plan for when and how student information is deleted.
We will no longer leave our office unlocked. We will also be more conscious of the data that is printed and left on our desk, passed to a colleague, or downloaded to a laptop. We might be getting away with it now, but what we are doing right now is risky - and we know it. Our students deserve more diligence on our part.
We will resolve the issue of photo permission. The GDPR might not give us the answers we want, but there is no doubt that we cannot simply carry on assuming that we have the right to post or tweet a photo unless a parent or student "opts out".
We will model responsible data use to our students. It's a complicated world out there for our kids. Between now and May 25, 2018, we will have to wrestle with these issues as an organisation; not only to make it safer but also to model for our students what it means to be responsible with the enormous quantities of data that is literally at our fingertips.
Check back in June to see how we got on. And if you'd like to join a working group of international schools collaborating on these issues and sharing resources, contact Garland Green at ISB for more details.
Photo credit: iStockphoto.com/peterhowell