North Dakota Governor Gladly Sacrifices Student Privacy for Free Tech

Gov. Dalrymple makes the Microsft Office 365 announcement.
Gov. Dalrymple makes the Microsft Office 365 announcement.

North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple announced on Monday that students in his state would get access to free, FREE! cloud computing ala Microsoft Office 365 and EduTech.

At what cost? I’m sure Microsoft is giving licenses away out of the goodness of their hearts.

From the press release Governor Dalrymple’s office sent out:

Gov. Jack Dalrymple today joined representatives from EduTech, the North Dakota Information Technology Department (ITD) and Microsoft Corp. to launch Microsoft Office 365, a standard productivity tool for K-12 students and educators to enhance learning and better prepare students for higher education and careers. The initiative will provide all North Dakota K-12 students and school personnel with access to Office 365 at no cost to school districts.

The launch kicked off a two-day information and training seminar at Microsoft’s Fargo campus for school technology directors and educators. Dalrymple was joined by state Chief Information Officer Mike Ressler, North Dakota Educational Technology Council Director Jody French, EduTech Director Robert Kaspari and Microsoft’s Fargo campus Site Leader Don Morton.

“This project is a major milestone in providing all K-12 schools in North Dakota with 21st Century, world-class technology tools to enhance learning and better prepare our young people for educational and career opportunities in the future,” Dalrymple said. “Ensuring access to innovative technologies in our schools not only strengthens the future of our students, but also the future of our state.”

EduTech, a division of ITD, and Microsoft are rolling out a statewide K-12 Active Directory and Forefront Identity Management tools and portal. The completion of this project paves the way for all K-12 schools in North Dakota to have Microsoft Office 365, a communication and collaboration package that includes email, calendaring, cloud storage, instant messaging and video conferencing capabilities.

The product will be used to help students create reports and presentations using Word, PowerPoint, Publisher and Excel; work with other students online and see each other’s changes in real-time with Office Online and OneDrive; and easily access information from a variety of devices while at school, at home or on the go.

“EduTech’s leadership continues to position the K-12 community to be at the forefront of deploying technology,” Ressler said. “The Office 365 roll-out highlights this leadership and the value of partnering with organizations like Microsoft to implement IT solutions in North Dakota.”

Anyone else suspicious about the terms “statewide K-12 Active Director” and “Forefront Identity Management”?

I’m a tech geek and I understand why this is appealing, but the data mining potential here seems pretty vast, not to mention Microsoft can potentially harvest future customers. Governor Dalrymple will have to explain how student data will be protected, how parents can have access to these accounts, and that he actually showed a little discernment before jumping at the shiny free stuff.  Also do North Dakota schools have to participate?

3 thoughts on “North Dakota Governor Gladly Sacrifices Student Privacy for Free Tech

  1. Microsoft is simply trying to play catch up to Google Docs, which *owns* the education market. And the governor will definitely *not* ‘”explain how student data will be protected [and] how parents can have access to these accounts”; in my experience politicians do not even consider such things and when confronted by parents, are shown to have *no clue* about what they signed on for and what happens to our kids’ data.

  2. Our children (& their data) ARE NOT FOR SALE…..even if the price tag is FREE. Nothing is free. Shame on Governor Dalrymple for selling out our kids. He has consistantly avoided this issue and has been a no-show for meetings that have been set up for him on this issue. It doesn’t matter if the school districts in ND have a say or not in implementing this program into their schools, Governor Dalrymple opened the door for Bill Gates and Microsoft to benefit from our children…..WITHOUT PARENTAL CONSENT.

  3. Shane – you are a tech geek and you don’t understand what MS Active Directory is? And you are incapable of Googling MS Forefront Identity Management (FIM) to simply read the MS page on it?

    Active Directory is Microsoft’s business networking environment. Yes the schema is extensible and has the potential to host a treasure trove of information. BUT WHAT NETWORK DOESN’T? All students have to have an ID in order to log into the network and access resources. This is normal. Further, the school has to decide how much data to store per ID. That takes space. Storage is cheap, but it still takes time and resources to input all that data. In times of shrinking school budgets it’s not cost effective. There is no greater risk here than there is anywhere.

    Further, MS FIM is identity lifecycle management. It allows users to self-service for password resets, access to services, etc. It has absolutely nothing to do with data mining.

    I completely agree that Common Core and data mining on minors are both bad. But this is a tempest in a tea cup. The tinfoil hat is not warranted on this one unless you make a LOT of assumptions.

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