Change is afoot at JData. We are not going away, but we are changing how we work. We are leaving behind some tools, but we are nimbly moving forward with greater focus on our research. JData has faced three constant and inter-related challenges over the past nine years: technology, resources, and convincing schools and camps to contribute their data. As much as we love challenges, we have decided to shift our approach, and we want to be as transparent as possible about our decision to do so.
We will continue to provide data services to the field of Jewish education, but we will no longer use the JData website for data entry and report generation. This change will take place on September 1, 2016. Here is what will remain the same, what will change, and what will happen to your data.
What will remain the same
All of the data—from 2007-08 through 2015-16—will be held on our secure servers at Brandeis University. We will continue to use this trove of data in developing longitudinal and comparison reports for the field. And we will continue to build out the database with new data each year.
www.jdata.com will continue to house our reports and newsletters, which you can access at any time. These have been re-organized so that you can more easily find what you need on overnight and day camps, day schools, congregational and other part-time schools, or local Jewish communities. To see the revamped publications section of JData, click here.
The JData team will continue to offer data services to the communities and agencies that have come to rely on us for data. We are not going anywhere and our commitment to and interest in this work remains high. Matthew, Nicole and I look forward to continuing our work with our partners and users.
What will change
Schools and camps will no longer use www.jdata.com to enter their data. As of September 1, we will switch to new software that will have some, but not all of the features of the current system.
The profile forms will be streamlined. They will contain a short set of key questions as well as questions relevant to the particular partner. The new forms should generate more useful data and lessen the data entry burden on schools and camps.
The do-it-yourself aspect of JData will no longer be available. The self-generated reports represent a significant portion of our technology and cost. Although they were developed to bring greater usage and therefore higher value to schools and camps, they were not used as much as we had hoped. I would like to think that JData was ahead of its time.
We are in the process of speaking with our partners about data services for next year. While we hope that all will stay with us, we understand that some may make other choices and some may discontinue data collection altogether.
What will happen to your data
If you represent a school or camp, it is important that you complete 2015-16. Make certain that your data for this year are complete and accurate. These data will be used in final reports for 2015-16; you will have them for your own use; and they will be archived for the future. After that, you will receive a communication about when and how to secure your data (past and present) for your own use.
If you represent a JData partner federation or agency, please make certain that the schools and camps in your purview have completed their 2015-16 data entry and responded to requests for data validation. We want to assure that the data we archive for your agency or community is complete and accurate. If you are continuing with us, we will provide you data downloads as requested. If you are not continuing with us, we will make arrangements to transfer your data to you over the summer.
Over the next five months, the JData team will be busy completing this year's data collection, validation, analysis and reporting. And we will be planning for operations in 2016-17. The JData website will be up and running in its current form through August 31, 2016. Beyond that date, it will still contain reports and information, but it will no longer serve as the portal to the JData database.
The long view
JData was born of a great vision—a single database to gather and archive data on Jewish education in North America. The data were intended for a range of uses and users. Schools and camps would enter their data once each year and then foundations, federations, national agencies and networks, researchers, journalists, and the schools and camps themselves would all have access to the big picture. Our experience has taught us that the vision was right but not achievable at this time given the state of the field and resource limitations.
We were honored by our inaugural steering committee, and then our early adopters who formed a stakeholders group, and now by our extensive list of partners. We were blessed with the support and guidance of the Jim Joseph Foundation, our founding funders, and The AVI CHAI Foundation. They shared in the vision and cheered us on. Now we are being encouraged to move from the technology, stay with the research, and maximize learning from the JData innovation.
JData's work with its 17 community and 10 national partners has shown what can be accomplished with data in general and with a shared system in particular. Much has been learned in the past nine years of developing JData, and we believe that lessons learned will illuminate next steps. We are deeply grateful for the opportunity we have had to work with you and your organization(s). And we look forward to a data-rich future together.