Usernames – Should they identify a pupil?

Completely forget about this post over on my blog on EduGeek. Thankfully, this site now this pulls in all my posts from any possible blog I use so I thought I would send this one out anyway … from November 2009.

In a discussion about student IDs I got a tad frustrated by the take some people have about Becta guidance and that it is given from a point of not really understanding how the real world works or giving examples …

Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
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With all respect to DB and AT … B*11*cks

Becta put out the recommendation based on data protection guidance and esafety guidance from a heap of places and just collate it. Having a go at them for doing this is pretty pointless and hiding your head in the sands about wider issues.

1 – a kid emails a mate about something, who then replies but includes a mate outside of the school. The person outside of the school is an adult, and then now might have name, approx age (cause they understand that 09 at the beginning of the userid in the email means they started at the school in 2009) the surname or forename (so many schools have it as jbloggs or janetb) and they are also likely to get the forename from the email too. It is not about a single piece of data that makes it dangerous but when you string it together.

2 – People hate giving real, flesh and blood people a number as their identity. “I’m not a number, I am a free man!” I hear you cry … well, how many of use know our NI number off the top of our head. I am pretty sure that ex-forces / police / etc can remember their numbers too! There is nothing wrong with introducing this to the kids as long as it is done in a timely, professional and sensible fashion. Roll numbers from MIS are fine … if your school uses ID cards then get this number onto the ID card. If someone wants a password reseting then just ask for their card. Job done … simples!

3 – When Becta (and others) give guidance or a framework too many people say “this is the way we have now been told to do it!” so they don’t give too many examples anymore because people don’t think for themselves and just point the finger if it is not right for their school. They just can’t win. Before you have a go at the lack of examples about it why not say … “hey, let’s think of some ways to improve this!”

I bet that if I was to suggest we do this though we will get a slack handful that say something, but people are more than happy to jump on the bandwagon about BSF, job applications, salary scales … I guess we all have different priorities.

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