Data protection: Microsoft 365 banned in Baden-Württemberg’s schools. Suitable alternatives exist!

May 13, 2022

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Mikaela Schneider

The education sector has had to make many adjustments in the past years due to the covid-19 pandemic, new GDPR regulations, and more innovative ways of teaching instruction and learning in general.

Switching to online learning has its benefits, however it comes with its own hurdles and loops to jump through. A major one of those being making sure the programs in use are data and privacy compliant.

Between fall 2020 and spring 2021, the Baden-Württemberg state in Germany who has relied on Microsoft 365 products, instigated a pilot operation to test 365’s data protection configurations and standards due to some complaints from schools about data compliance. Even after eliminating certain functionalities and implementing additional security, the pilot test failed to deliver a data compliant solution for teachers, students, and parents.

“Especially in the case of specific complaints, which we will continue to investigate, I would first like to look for possible solutions together with the schools. At the same time, we want to strengthen the data protection competence in schools.” – Stefan Brink

Since then, and in accordance with data protection activists and warnings from educational associations, the Ministry of Culture, Sandra Boser, and the State Commissioner for Data Protection, Stefan Brink, have proposed a plan to move away from Microsoft and towards other data competent solutions like Moodle and BigBlueButton, for instance.

Nextcloud has teamed up with Moodle in combining Moodle’s dynamic learning environment with Nextcloud’s files usage. With this Moodle integration, teachers can for example, store course syllabuses and assignments in Nextcloud and make them accessible for students in course activities. New from our latest release includes useful features for teachers and students alike like our whiteboard on Talk, mute/unmute, reactions, and hand raising functions.

As for the Nextcloud integration with BigBlueButton, users who are familiar with the platform can use all the same functionalities, like setting up custom rooms and breakout rooms, and having complete authority over its accessibility.

As Nextcloud gains traction in the education sector, our team continuously works hard to make our platform superior in data compliance, functionality, and ease-of-use wherein alternative providers like Microsoft 365 and itslearning lack.

With Nextcloud and its partners like the popular Moodle and BigBlueButton, you can rest assured that your teachers, students, and parents’ data is secure and protected. Administrators and educators work hard, and having to worry about data leaks and privacy compromises should completely be avoided.

More than three fourths of schools in Baden-Württemberg have already turned away from Microsoft and are on their way toward a more data compliant future. As for the other quarter, they are still in search of other open-source solutions that can be implemented into their digital education platform. Mr. Brink, who has previously advised against the use of 365 products in schools, states that 365 tools can only be used unless more complaints arise, and it is without a doubt that these complaints will continue by schools administrators, because as the failed pilot test proved, Microsoft’s products are unfit for schools.

As we’ve seen in Baden-Württemberg, in time it’s a likely prediction that more states in Germany and in countries abroad will follow suit and look for alternatives to their current platforms like Microsoft. There is nothing more important than having a reliable, secure, and trustworthy platform being used in educational environments, and we hope to see more schools come to the conclusion to make the switch.

Nextcloud can provide a quick solution for schools that can be rolled out in the short term. There are also special educational discounts available. Please contact us for more information.

In addition, Nextcloud CEO Frank Karlitschek will be giving a talk in Bern, Swizerland tomorrow on Saturday May 14th at the Open Education Day for schools in open-source. He will talk about how schools are in need more than ever for secure learning platforms and why Nextcloud is an excellent choice.

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