(INDIA | MAY 11, 2023) -- Mozilla and Aapti Institute are announcing a new initiative to strengthen data stewardship practices in schools across India. The project — named “Strengthening Data Ecosystems” (SDE) — will advocate for responsible data usage and also combat any misuse or abuse of student data. This program is funded by USAID.
SDE addresses a growing trend at educational institutions across India, from grade schools to universities. Schools and third-parties — including tech companies like Google and Microsoft — are collecting students’ attendance data, test scores, discipline records, and other information at an unprecedented scale and in unprecedented detail. They then use this data to inform decision-making.
There is great potential for this data to improve educational outcomes. But there is also a real risk of harm to students and teachers if this data is mismanaged, misused, or improperly stored — harm like surveillance, identity theft, or, in the case of automated decision making, algorithmic bias. In order to mitigate harm and realize the full potential of using data in schools, educators, parents, students and administrators will need tools to help them understand, manage and take advantage of educational data.
Mozilla and Aapti decided to focus on India due to the country’s rapid deployment of data collection in schools, and also the ongoing introduction of computers into classrooms in many regions of the country. SDE complements Mozilla’s other work on data stewardship, like the Data Futures Lab as well as Aapti’s work through the Data Economy Lab.
Says Mehan Jayasuriya, senior program officer at Mozilla: “SDE has two objectives: To ensure decision makers like school administrators and teachers have the fluency to advocate for data practices that serve their students. And, to ensure those impacted by data-based decisions like students and parents understand what data is being collected, how it is being used, and how to object to any misuse.”
SDE has two objectives: To ensure decision makers like school administrators and teachers have the fluency to advocate for data practices that serve their students. And, to ensure those impacted by data-based decisions like students and parents understand what data is being collected, how it is being used, and how to object to any misuse.
Mehan Jayasuriya, Senior Program Officer at Mozilla
Over the course of 2023, SDE will use a range of tools— from working groups and research to lesson plans and educational videos — to pursue these objectives. The program will culminate in an in-person summit where practitioners will collaborate to produce toolkits and prototypes. In early 2024, Aapti will publish a research report that surfaces the most important insights from this summit.
Says Astha Kapoor, co-founder of Aapti Institute: “SDE seeks to answer big questions: How might we envision a changed relationship with data and records, aided by technology? How might we move away from data as a means for oversight and punishment and toward data as a tool which can empower students, teachers, parents, and administrators to make better decisions?”
SDE seeks to answer big questions: How might we envision a changed relationship with data and records, aided by technology? How might we move away from data as a means for oversight and punishment and toward data as a tool which can empower students, teachers, parents, and administrators to make better decisions?
Astha Kapoor, co-founder of Aapti Institute
Working Groups and Call for Proposals
The first phase of SDE will build working groups of individuals or organizations located in India which are interested in exploring this issue. A total of five working groups will be convened at a week-long, in-person summit in India in the fall/winter of 2023 (date and location TBD). Groups will discuss key questions like How can we ensure that Indian students, teachers, parents and school administrators are well-informed about the potential benefits and harms that could result from data collection? and How might we reimagine consent protocols to better inform and empower the students, parents and teachers whose data is being collected? The working groups will attempt to produce toolkits and prototypes which can address these questions, all of which will be made available under open source licenses.
Working groups should be in a position to engage a specific local school community, and be willing to produce a set of resources which can aid educational stakeholders in their use of data. Each working group member will receive a stipend of $2,500USD to cover travel expenses, compensate working group members for their time, and aid in the dissemination of project outputs.
Working groups must have four members, ideally representing different areas of expertise. They must be able to travel to and attend the week-long summit in November 2023 (date and location to be confirmed). And they must produce a set of outputs which will allow their learnings to be leveraged by others even after the summit has concluded.
If you have questions, you can contact the Aapti Institute at [email protected]
Press contact: Shandukani O. Mulaudzi, [email protected]