Protecting Student Data in a Cloud Environment

There are few who would argue that the adoption of cloud-based technologies within education are becoming increasingly essential. However, the tension between the undeniable benefit and the increased perception of complexity of maintaining data privacy compliance leave many hesitant. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of cloud technologies for educational purposes, simplify key concepts of student data privacy, and debunk some ill-conceived myths around the necessity of data sovereignty.  

Why Move to a Cloud Environment?

The move toward a cloud environment is not just a matter of technological upgrade but a strategic move that can significantly enhance the learning experience, operational efficiency, and data security in educational institutions across the globe.  

With platforms allowing real time collaboration, available to students and teachers at any time and from any location, we see a stark upgrade in the efficiency in digital learning and an exciting prospect for continued innovation in 21st century learning styles.  

Nor, too, can cost efficiencies be ignored, with platform subscription models allowing the flexibility to scale their usage up or down based on their needs and budgets and without significant capital investment planning. 

Finding a Trusted Partner in Moving to a Cloud Environment

However, with security and data compliance we have seen institutions pause and think. Despite typical cloud platforms leveraging advanced security features, automatic updates, and sophisticated data encryption methods not available to traditional servers, the intangible nature of ‘the cloud’ causes uncertainty. Ultimately, concerns here are often unfounded but do require schools to verify the claims made by cloud providers. 

Data Responsibilities

In many U.S. states, European Union territories, the United Kingdom, and beyond, schools bare legal responsibilities to look after their students’ data in a responsible way. This burden places a much-needed checkpoint into practises of sharing personal or sensitive information of children with third parties. However, it has caused many to dial the needle too far in the other direction, standing in the way of educational innovation with cloud technologies.  

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Misconceptions, such as the potential for U.S. data compliance standards to be weaker than those in Europe or the need for data sovereignty, stand in the way of the wider adoption of cloud technologies in schools. 

Yes, it is true that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and its UK counterpart, UK GDPR, set stringent standards for personal data protection. However, neither legislation makes direct reference to a requirement for data to be stored in its origin country and instead mandates the same rigour of protection and confidentially is applied to data stored outside of the European Union.  

Lightspeed Systems®: A Beacon of Trust and Compliance

Lightspeed Systems is dedicated to compliance with international data protection regulations, facilitated by the current EU-US Data Privacy Framework. This framework, designed to align with GDPR principles, ensures that data transferred from the EU and UK to the U.S. is afforded a level of protection consistent with European standards. 

At Lightspeed Systems, we believe in transparent operations, providing schools with comprehensive control over their data. Our policies and practices are openly available, ensuring educational institutions are fully informed about how their data is managed, detailing how we handle all data with the utmost care and often exceeding the requirements of legislations such as GDPR. 

While leveraging the global efficiency of U.S.-hosted cloud data centres, Lightspeed Systems ensures compliance with all local data protection laws, for all our global client base. Our approach involves rigorous data impact assessments and adherence to international data transfer agreements, providing schools the confidence to embrace our technology solutions. Learn more on the privacy section of our website

Embrace the Opportunity

The move to cloud-based technologies and a cloud environment presents an opportunity for educational institutions to enhance their digital learning environments securely and cost-effectively. Whilst recognising the concerns associated with international data storage, I urge you not to be deterred from your goal of providing students with the best possible digital learning experiences