A cloudy issue – help gratefully received

Cross posted on pedagoo.org

Like many schools, mine is looking at deploying WiFi and encouraging the number of pupils bringing in their own devices (BYOD) to enhance learning.  A number of hotspots will be set up around the school.  Learners will register their device and connect to the wireless network, but will not be able to access the school network.  This makes sense to me, as the costs and complexity involved makes the set up too difficult to manage.  Learners will, however, need to access documents and there needs to be an easy system in place for teachers and learners to share resources.

We currently use Bloxx software on the hard wired network and will deploy a separate wireless installation on the new network.  Hopefully the wireless policy will be ‘liveral’, to borrow a phrase from the ICT in Education Excellence Group.

But.  I am confused and need your help!

The obvious solution is to use websites such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft Sky Drive.  They are easy to use, pupils are already familiar with them and they are free.  Before I can ask for these websites to be unblocked, I need to understand what information we can store using them, and what kind of information is not allowed.

It is clear that confidential pupil information such as PPRs and content from SEEMIS such as pupil addresses, medical information, progress reports and attendance statistics cannot be stored on the cloud.  I say clear, but only if you understand the confusion that is the Data Protection Act.  The Act states that information held must be secure and not transferred outside the European Economic Area (EEA), or the provider must have signed up to the Safe Harbor Agreement.  Companies such as Edmodo, Google Drive and Dropbox host data outside of the EU, but have signed up to the Safe Harbour Agreement.  Corporate IT often state these issues when declining requests to make these sites available but is this a red herring?  Does it depend on what is meant by confidential information? I assume that class notes, lesson plans, learning intentions, homework, weblinks and quizzes do not come under the requirements of the data protection act?

Any advice would be gratefully received.  Consider if you would the following two scenarios:

If anyone can help me see through the cloud I would be very grateful.  All I want to do is improve how I teach!