Volume 2015, Issue 1
  • E-ISSN: 2223-506X


Educational institutions are turning to private cloud computing solutions to lower costs, efficiently deliver educational content and analyze student data, ranging from grades and school activities to behavior, health status, and basic demographic variables. This case study of New York State Education Department's failed adoption of cloud computing for its student data and administrative needs demonstrates the potential benefits of creating detailed longitudinal student databases and large datasets. However, it also highlights several serious concerns about privacy, trust, and security in relation to student personally identifiable information (PII). Opposition from parents and educational and privacy advocacy groups–primarily due to fears of commercialization and ubiquitous, non-transparent, and unregulated sharing of student data–led to the closure of a private, cloud-based longitudinal database built by inBloom; and to new New York state legislation regulating student data. This case study analyzes educational governance in New York State, in particular the notion of flexian relations– the powerful web of actors and networks that influence New York State's technology adoption behavior. Student PII, similar to personal health information (PHI), is a particularly sensitive category of data. Data breach and loss of confidentiality by the private cloud vendors could have caused real, quantifiable harms to students. This study provides valuable lessons learnt about cloud platform adoption, for educational institutions and the cloud computing industry.


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