Unizin Not-Common-Knowledge Data Model

I’m doing a talk this Tuesday for a campus IT conference. Should be a good time, for certain values of that phrase. I’ll post a link to the slides here afterwards.

While writing the talk—I’m one of those dorks who does script out talks word-for-word, though I do it in the slangy, choppy rhetorical style I actually talk in; academese is not my speech register and I don’t pretend it is—I ran across the Unizin Common Data Model, which if I understand correctly underlies the giant data warehouse for student data called the Unizin Data Platform. This will hold data from all Unizin member institutions.

To Unizin’s credit, they have a data dictionary publicly available, though every time I’ve tried to get just the table listing (or ERD?) it hasn’t worked. Still, the list of column/attribute names is there, and this list is a swift and daunting education in student Big Data.

See for yourself by all means, but here are some specific areas of the table I suggest looking at:

  • Everything from the Incident and IncidentPerson tables (conveniently, the table name is the first column in the data dictionary and is how the dictionary is ordered), especially the RelatedToDisabilityManifestationInd column
  • the LearnerAction and LearnerActivity tables, noting for the record that hashing the LearnerID is not anything like a sufficient privacy guarantee
  • the Person table and related tables, which are detailed to an extent that gives me nightmares

Have fun asking yourself why on earth a learning-management system needs to know all this… and considering the Equifax-level horror if there is ever a breach in it.