Microsoft in Education - Student Privacy

Microsoft emphasizes Student Privacy, partners with Knewton, Pearson and CK-12

During the annual Microsoft in Education Global Forum in Barcelona, the company announced some interesting partnerships alongside a keynote by Anthony Salcito, vice president, Worldwide Education at Microsoft that emphasized the value of student privacy.

“Privacy concerns are holding educators back from making the most of modern technology and preparing students to succeed in today’s workplace. At the same time, many solutions being used in the classroom are unintentionally putting student data at risk.

The private sector has a responsibility to give educators the tools and resources that inspire real learning and have a real impact, while ensuring privacy isn’t a barrier to bringing new and innovative technologies into the classroom. This is why Microsoft is committed to taking every measure it can to ensure student information remains safe around the world. We will not, under any circumstance, mine students’ data.”

With the current backlash at edtech companies that collect and analyze student data including inBloom and Amplify it seems obvious that Microsoft had to make such a statement. Especially when taking into consideration that Microsoft products are used in 98% of schools worldwide which makes Microsoft one of the technology leaders in the public education space. Even with Google and Apple getting all the headlines for Chromebook and iPad deployments.

Another reason for emphasizing on Microsoft’s commitment to data safety are probably the new partnerships that were also announced today.

Besides uncontroversial partnerships with BrainPop, Wolfram|Alpha and CK-12 which will all provide apps and content for the Windows 8 ecosystem, Microsoft teamed up with Pearson, Promethean World and Knewton for clearly data driven projects.

According to the press release

  • Pearson and Microsoft will create new applications and advance a digital education model that prepares students to thrive in an increasingly personalized learning environment.
  • Promethean World plc has committed to developing innovative Windows 8 apps and Office 365 integration for its platform ClassFlow.
  • Knewton and Microsoft announced a global alliance to promote adaptive learning and support Microsoft’s partner and publisher ecosystem in personalizing content for students.

Knewton elaborated a bit more on their partnership on the company blog. Through the partnership Microsoft will introduce its vast partner and publisher ecosystem as well as Ministries of Education around the world to Knewton’s technology. On the other hand, Microsoft will be able to streamline nationwide deployments of adaptive learning materials.

As a side note to today’s announcement, yesterday Pearson and Microsoft Press announced a publishing distribution agreement under which Pearson will distribute print and digital Microsoft Press products globally

Combining these new partnerships there might be adaptive and personalized learning content for IT professionals around the corner.

Further Reading

  • Microsoft takes a stand on student privacy with best-in-class education solutions | WSJ
  • Knewton partners with Microsoft | Knewton Blog
  • Pearson Announces Publishing Distribution Agreement with Microsoft Press | BusinessWire

Kay Alexander is the co-founder and creative director of EDUKWEST. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+