When digitization goes too far

Many schools use student information systems, and have been for a long time. They store grades and other information digitally.

And that is a good thing, as it makes access to these data much easier. However, as I discussed earlier, such technology also has a downside.

Easy access

While easy access to data can be great, the question is: access for who? In the case of student information systems, this question was never asked. It was simply assumed that access was a good thing.

Since the introduction of the first student information systems, smart phones have made their introduction. Nowadays almost everyone has a smart phone – including parents.

So logical step for student information system suppliers were mobile apps. With these apps parents have easy access to the student information about their children, such as grades and attendance.

By law parents are allowed to see such information, but only until their children reach the age of 16. After that, children need to give consent to their parents to access this information. After the age of 18, parents are not allowed to see this information at all.

Student information system suppliers however, provide information to parents without any consent ever given by students themselves.

Joyless

And while this is strictly a legal issue, there is a more important factor to consider. One parent said that such access takes away a particular kind of joy from the student.

Imagine the student getting a really good grade. If the parent immediately knows this grade, because they receive a push notification, the student is robbed of being able to come home and telling their parents about their grade.

Even with bad grades, shouldn’t it be up to the students to decide when to tell their parents? Isn’t that part of growing up? And shouldn’t student information system suppliers know this, and even support this process?

The goal

I believe this is a perfect example of taking digitization too far. While the technology is there, it doesn’t have to be used. If the goal of parents is to raise their children to be responsible adults, using technology to effectively spy on their children teaches the wrong lesson.

This is something that happens too often. Companies do not fully understand the goal at play. They cater to the needs of their customers, while often the true goal lies one step further.

In the case of student information systems, the goal is not the school or the parent, but teaching the student – that’s the real goal.

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