Education

What Will Happen to ‘Big Data’ In Education?

Yesterday, a $100 million startup lost its last customer. According to a Politico article, the state of New York, inBloom‘s last remaining client, will delete all student data on the repository due to privacy concerns.

InBloom’s company spokesperson told Politico the nonprofit was “pushing forward with our mission,” though at the moment there are no known state partners.

InBloom’s trajectory has shined a spotlight on the public’s sensitivity around what happens to student data. When it first began as a mammoth ed-tech project in 2011 by the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation called the Shared Learning Infrastructure, the purpose was to provide open-source software to safely organize, pool, and store student data from multiple states and multiple sources in the cloud. That included everything from demographics to attendance to discipline to grades to the detailed, moment-by-moment, data produced by learning analytics programs like Dreambox and Khan Academy. An API — application programming interface — would allow software developers to connect to that data, creating applications that could, at least in theory, be used by any school in the infrastructure.

In February 2013, just a little over a year ago, SLI relaunched as an independent nonprofit named InBloom. The company had nine state partners, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York and North Carolina, representing 11 million students. At SXSWEdu, they made a splashy public debut the following month, hosting parties and panel discussions as an official sponsor, a gathering focused just as much on business as on education.

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