Don’t be Pwnd ! Own Your Data

Being Pwnd means being beaten, or owned. It means losing. Making mistakes. And ultimately being embarrassed. In fact if you are publicly embarrassed we could say Uber Pwnage.

When I refer to the term “system” I am referring to Content Management Systems, Learning Management Systems, School Management Systems, and possible Record Management Systems

I am not going to carry-on about how everyone needs to be an open source and contracting developers to build flexible systems where the institution owns the data and the design. Although I do think that is a good idea, most people want a solution that has been planned out for them.

That being said, you have to remember that you are the client, and they are dependent on you. Your IT Department needs to have standards for all software that the school uses. There should be standards for what format data gets archived in, and how that data can be moved to other systems. You must consider that in case of a major systems failure, you will need more than one method for getting to your critical information.

And there is always the possibility that the company you are licensing software from will go out of business and leave with archives of data that no other product can import. Many software packages offer features and stress that they are compliant with open-standards and will allow you to convert your data into different formats.

So do you own your data? Many schools do not. Unlike companies they are outsourcing their core systems, or running off of proprietary software with strict license agreements.

Here is a test. If you own your data you should be able to accomplish the following:

  1. Archive your data onto a computer somewhere within your network.
  2. Open that archive using software that is free or open source.
  3. Use that data in another system/ database assuming someone with database skills is involved.

More times than not, people cannot accomplish all 3 without breaking their licensing agreement or hacking their data, which can be costly.

Many schools run multiple systems and have to move the data from one system to the other using spreadsheets. This can be time consuming and it does not guarantee all the systems are up-to-date.

As you are reading this you need to figure out where you fit, it will most likely be in one of three categories:

  1. You own and control your data and 90% or more of the systems it is used in.
  2. You can move your data around into multiple systems, but the systems are not connected.
  3. You have one system for running your school and if a new service or product is not compliant with your main system you cannot acquire it.

I think it is clear you want to be categorized as owning 90% of your data. If not you are probably going to get Pwnd.

If you are not sure how to fix this problem, contact me at :