Student consent in learning analytics: Finding a way out of the labyrinth
Paul Prinsloo, Research Professor in Open and Distance Learning, Department of Business Management, University of South Africa
12 noon GMT, Monday 29 January 2018.
User consent in the collection, analysis and use of their data remains highly problematic despite advances in regulatory and legal environments, greater transparency, and public awareness regarding the increasing ubiquity of surveillance. Evidence suggests that despite concerns and awareness about privacy and downstream use of personal data, users are not always rational or make informed decisions regarding trusting online service providers and continue to exchange personal data for (perceived or real) services/benefits.
In higher education contexts, students consented to the collection, analysis and use of their data as part of the learning contract with institutions. Institutions then had the contractual and fiduciary duty to ensure not only the protection of this data, but also to regulate legitimate use of this data, often without students knowing the extent to which their data are used to shape their learning experiences. With the increasing volume, velocity and variety of data available to institutions, the initial consent at the point of registration increasingly does not warrant the unrestrained and opaque use of students' data. As learning analytics fall outside the purview of Institutional Review Boards, we need to seriously consider the ethical and moral implications of student consent.
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Professor Rhona Sharpe
Head of Department of Technology Enhanced Learning
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University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH, UK