Groningen Declaration Network (GDN) held its seventh annual meeting on April 18-20, 2018, at the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie, a new French university formed in January 2018 by the merger of two historic Paris institutions, UPMC and Paris-Sorbonne.
The annual meeting is the main event of the GDN, where all stakeholders in the Digital Student Data Ecosystem can meet, network, exchange information and showcase ongoing pilots and systems developments, building upon the work of thought leaders in the space. The GDN functions as a think tank and a sandbox, operating under a shared set of principles that highlight learner data privacy, network reliability, interoperability, and trust.
To that end, this year’s theme was the Age of Opportunity: Privacy, Trust and Learner Mobility. The meeting featured three keynotes, seven plenary panel discussions, twenty-five break out sessions, a welcome reception at the Sorbonne Péristyle, an dinner at the La Barge floating restaurant at the border of the Seine with musical accompaniment (modern jazz performance by the Edoardo Liberati Quartet), and a visit to the Musée des Arts et Métiers, all enjoyed by more than 150 participants from governments, universities, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector.
Highlighted during the conference were network pilots that attempt to scale the GDN principles in data system connections that support mobility. Of particular interest was a project led by our sister organization to the north--the Association of Registrars of the Universities and Colleges of Canada (ARUCC). The ARUCC Groningen and Student Mobility Project aspires to advance national and international student mobility through trusted electronic data exchange across all of Canada, leveraging existing strengths across the very diverse thirteen provinces.
The Project is working to enhance Canada-wide capacity to create a national, trusted network for student data exchange. It is particularly ambitious, and they have made significant strides toward their goal. Some principles articulated in the plan include:
A learner focus with aspirations to enhance student mobility across Canada and internationally.
Respect for institutional diversity and autonomy.
Acknowledgement and support for provincial and territorial authority.
An emphasis on maximizing efficiencies and quality through trusted data exchange.
The ARUCC model resonates with AACRAO principles and aligns well with educational frameworks in the United States. By respecting and building upon the existing data exchange and application centres in Canada, their model both facilitates connectivity for institutions lacking electronic data exchange capacity and provides institutions and allied organizations access to pre-existing trusted data providers in other countries as an enhancement to international student mobility into Canada. It would be exciting to see a similar model in the US. For more information about the ARUCC Project, visit the website.
AACRAO has been a part of the the GDN since its inception in 2012; Executive Director Mike Reilly serves on the GDN Board of Directors. Many of the underlying issues associated with electronic exchange of records—i.e. student privacy, comparability of data, acceptance and recognition of digital student data—are issues that are at the heart of the work in which AACRAO members engage.
The GDN effort provides an international platform to examine these issues, and AACRAO provides leadership and perspective in order to bring our members’ interests, principles and voices to this global arena. With considerable expertise in these areas, AACRAO and its members can contribute to the ultimate success of this enterprise. For the broad acceptance of global electronic records by institutions in the U.S. it is essential that student privacy, data security, and authentication are insured.