September 25, 2023

Innovating Education Through Data: GoGuardian's Path to Privacy-Centric Insights

GoGuardian Team
The logos of GoGuardian and Databricks

In the ever-evolving landscape of education, technology plays a pivotal role in shaping the way students learn and thrive. GoGuardian empowers educators with tools for learning engagement, formative assessments, virtual tutoring, and most importantly, student safety. As the demands of our mission to power K-12 digital learning environments where every student can thrive grew, GoGuardian leveraged the power of data, aided by Databricks Lakehouse Platform and dbt, to enhance learning outcomes and student safety.

The need for a data revolution

GoGuardian's commitment to improving education through data-driven insights became more complex as the company expanded. The challenge was not just managing the increasing volume of data, but also ensuring data privacy, a paramount concern when dealing with student information. While our existing data infrastructure served us well in the early stages, we soon realized we needed to make investments to keep up with the rapid pace of our growth.

Manoj Rawat, Director of Data Engineering at GoGuardian, emphasized, "Improving outcomes encompasses many activities for our different departments. Each of these groups needs data to be available in an analytics environment so they can do their part to positively impact the future of education."

Streamlining data with Databricks and dbt

Recognizing the need for a more robust and efficient data architecture, GoGuardian turned to Databricks Lakehouse Platform and dbt. This move marked a significant shift in data strategy. Instead of relying on a homegrown solution that strained resources, Databricks enabled GoGuardian to streamline its data processes.

Databricks Lakehouse Platform became the foundation for GoGuardian's data platform and architecture. It allowed them to extract data from various sources, including their application databases, and process it in near-real time. This eliminated the previous 24-hour data lag, enabling quicker and more informed decision-making.

Ryan Johnson, Senior Director of Data and AI at GoGuardian, highlighted how Databricks made their privacy-centric design feasible: "A critical aspect of this architecture is that between where data comes in and where our scientists actually work with it, we transform that data to remove all student personally identifiable information (PII)."

Impact on learning and safety

The shift to Databricks and dbt not only transformed GoGuardian's data processes but also directly impacted our products. GoGuardian Beacon, which alerts schools about students displaying at-risk behavior, is powered by Databricks Lakehouse and MLflow. This has enabled the identification and support of students in need of mental health services — an immeasurable contribution to student well-being.

Moreover, GoGuardian's efforts have extended to optimizing classroom experiences. Machine learning-driven products like GoGuardian Admin and Giant Steps offer tools for content filtering and personalized recommendations, respectively, enhancing both teachers' efficiency and students' learning journeys.

A new vision for the future

As GoGuardian completes its transition to Databricks and dbt, the company continues to explore new possibilities. By simplifying data processes, ensuring privacy, and fostering collaboration, companies like GoGuardian are not only enhancing learning outcomes but also working to enhance the safety and well-being of students. As technology continues to advance, the partnership between Databricks and GoGuardian promises a brighter future for learners and educators alike.

For more information, be sure to read this in-depth case study from our partners at Databricks.