VOICE Charter School Balances Collaboration, Security and Privacy to Create an Engaging Learning Environment
VOICE Charter School wanted to have the right collaboration and security balance, while complying with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
20 July 2016
Education must be engaging and consistent to be effective for students. To achieve this, educators require the ability to easily share materials and collaborate with one another while keeping students’ personal data safe. These objectives can sometimes be add odds if one is prioritized over the other. For example, schools that focus too heavily on protecting data might inhibit the flow of information from educators and create inconsistency. Alternatively, schools that are not diligent in security practices could risk exposing confidential data which may result in embarrassing and consequential data breaches.
New York's VOICE Charter School wanted to get this security and productivity balance right. The school’s interactive teaching approach requires a process that includes extensive collaboration among teachers and administrators. When the school was smaller, teachers could simply walk across the hall and discuss lesson plans with one another. As VOICE grew from 85 to 630 students and began managing a staff of 110 employees, information sharing became more complicated. At first, teachers and administrators began using portable USB drives, email and a cloud solution to share information. However, confusion about where the latest versions were stored was one big issue and VOICE was especially concerned about complying with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects the privacy of student education records.
Scott Walker, technology manager at VOICE Charter School, noted "we needed a more secure way to support our collaborative environment while making it easier for our teachers and administrators to manage and share documents."
"Putting student records and sensitive school information in the public cloud is not good enough to honor the intention of FERPA. We need to be thoughtful about how personal private information is shared," added Franklin Headley, principal, VOICE Charter School.
An Approach for Balancing Collaboration, Security and Privacy
As a solution, VOICE turned to Intralinks for secure file sharing and collaboration that is FERPA-compliant and simplifies document sharing and inter-departmental collaboration, helping teachers and administrators plan and manage comprehensive education plans for individual students. Teachers and administrators can now eliminate risks that are associated with sharing sensitive information through insecure mediums such as email attachments, physical photocopies, or thumb drives. The school also uses Intralinks to provide central control over individual users' management of their documents. For example, some users have full privileges to read, edit and share documents within a tightly governed circle of users. Others have read-only privileges or the ability to edit but not share. If a teacher joins or leaves the school, Intralinks’ Information Rights Management (IRM) allows VOICE to grant and retract access privileges in real time.
Today, VOICE manages 25,000 pages of documents using Intralinks. This includes student assessments, departmental documents, financial reports, Salesforce.com records and human resources files. The school expects to scale Intralinks to handle approximately 120,000 documents during the next academic year.
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Mikala Vidal is the director of communications for the Americas at Intralinks. She is responsible for driving PR strategy in the collaboration and security industries. Mikala has more than a decade of PR and marketing experience, and has built her career helping B2B technology companies generate awareness and build industry credibility. Previously she has helped companies like WatchDox, Exabeam, Convertro, Waterfall Security, Boxever, Insightly, EchoSign, and cybersecurity investor and entrepreneur Shlomo Kramer get noticed and gain market traction. She holds a B.A.