Education Insights – support students through data, responsibly.

This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: New blog articles in Microsoft Tech Community.




Education Insights aims to facilitate data-driven decisions, as we believe that data-informed educators and education leaders make the most significant impact in their schools.  As an education professional, supporting students’ learning journeys while protecting their wellbeing is what you do. We’re here to help you identify needs and provide support from an informed perspective. We also highly value individual and organizational privacy and are committed to defending and protecting privacy for every student.


For those reasons, we provide Education Insights with attention to maintaining the highest external compliance standards, meeting GDPR, FERPA and other industry standards, as well as our own rigorous ethical and responsibility standards as established by Microsoft principles for Responsible AI.


In this blog, we will review some of the guidelines and practices Education Insights uses to help you leverage data to support your students, while maintaining peace of mind regarding your students’ data privacy and security. Additionally, we will provide some suggestions for to how to communicate Education Insights to your school community.


Guidelines and practices 


1. High compliance standards  

The information collected and shown through Insights meets national, regional, and industry-specific regulations for data collection and use, including GDPR and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) for students and children's security.


2. Students learning data only  

Students’ digital activity data collected by Insights includes only their activity in the context of the class and of the learning journey, such as accessing learning materials, participating in meetings, uploading a resume, etc. We do not collect information about students’ private activities such as message content or working on personal files. We also respect educators’ privacy, hence no activity data from educators is displayed


3. Supportive and non-judgmental language 

We believe that educators know their students best and are well positioned to make decisions about supporting their students. Education Insights doesn’t make judgements about students or educators. It aims to shine a light on student learning and digital engagement trends by providing meaningful activity data, leaving it up to the educator to follow up with students and to adapt instruction as they see fit.


4. Data access only for those who need it 

To preserve students' privacy, each person in the school community has access only to data relevant to them:

  • Educators can only see the activity of students assigned to their classes. They cannot access data from other classes unless a collaborating educator has shared it with them.
  • Education leaders get an organizational view of their students’ activity that depends on their role, organization affiliation, and the permissions assigned to them by the IT Admin.

Education Insights data belongs to the school or institution. Microsoft simply collects the data, analyzes, and stores it. Microsoft engineering does not have direct access to student data and all access is strictly controlled, logged and audited, you can learn more about it here.


5. Transparency for everyone   

We are transparent in the data that is collected and how we use it. Each individual student also has a dedicated support page with authenticated access allowing them to see activity signals collected on them, along with instructions on how to contest the activity signals with their educators. Additionally, the IT admin can choose not to collect activity signals at any time; in which case Insights will not be available for the institution.


Communicating Education Insights to guardians and students 

While data is critical to thoroughly support students, and while Education Insights provides data with high standards of ethical use, privacy, and security, we also understand that it is vital to communicate clearly to students and guardians the collection of data and the value it provides.

Here is a suggested baseline for communication in case it would be helpful to start a positive conversation with guardians and students. You can also share this blog for further details and links to resources :)



“Our priority as a school/district is always our students, and we aspire to equip them with the skills they need for success in school and beyond. Even before digital teaching practices were expedited by the outbreak of COVID-19, we knew that technology would make up a large part of lifelong learning.


Now, with students spending more educational time on digital platforms, our organization collects their digital activity in Microsoft Teams to support educators in adapting and supporting students’ learning and wellbeing in this changing environment. Data collected includes digital engagement, assignments status and grades, and their self-reflection of their wellbeing at school.


Any data collected is only in the context of the learning activity, non-learning activity data is not being collected. The data is shared only with the people that need it to best support the student, and with the intention of providing each student with the best educational possibilities for them and helping them thrive in school and life.


Students' data is being collected, stored, and presented in a responsible manner, rigorously following and meets applicable national, regional, and industry-specific regulations for data collection and use, including GDPR and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) ."



Some technical details for you 

For those of you who are interested in some of the “backbone” of how Insights data is collected and stored:


Where do we store the ? Insights is deployed in Europe and the United States. Data for European-based users is stored on servers in Europe. Data for Australian-based and US-based users is stored on servers in the United States. Data for users outside of Europe, Australia, or the United States, will be stored in one of our geographic regions.


do we handle large volumes of data with high reliability? Insights leverages the power of Azure to ingest, process and store large amounts of signals in near-real time and with high reliability. All this is implemented on top of M365 secure environments. Each of these resources is provisioned in multiple geographical locations to honor the data locality explained above. Insights has a rich monitoring and alerting system which helps us track and mitigate potential data lost in the pipeline.


Learning more about data privacy in Education Insights 

We’re always looking for ways to make Education Insights better. Have questions, comments, or ideas? Let us know! Add your ideas here or share your comment below.


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