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A few thoughts on privacy and ethics for LAK12.

February 28, 2012

One of the points was what happens to the data if we allow students to opt-out. As a person who has collected data from human subjects, I found that when people feel you are giving then full disclosure they are excited to help and be about of your study. Also, I have been in a situation were my boss insisted on nondisclosure. Students had no opt-out.  We collected more nonsense responses that than we data was collected freely.  As a TA, i decided to collect sets of data from students and I told them it was for the design of an ITS and they not only were glad to help, but they even got involved with the project.  My point, opt-out will have so risks attached in  terms of collecting a large enough data sets.  However, the quality of data may be better by avoiding nonsense data.  Second, we need to study if the opt-out option really hurts data collection.  We may have to be creative in how we get our data point. The sample may have to include multiple sections of a course or more courses in the same topic area to insure opt-out is no longer an issues.  Finally, if opt-out turns out to exclude a group based on social-economic standings, gender, age, or ethnic group; them we have an issue to resolve.  If opt-out cross all a wide range with no pattern do we have an issue?

 

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4 Comments
  1. James Ballard permalink

    An interesting issue – for example students cannot opt-out of their exam results being used to influence teaching and learning choices and make judgements. There seems to be some double-standards on what type of educational data can be used and when.

    • In some institution, waivers are signed. Second important point, a system is set up so that the student’s identity is anonymous.

  2. Leia, this is a really good point. Learning analytics can be considered HUMAN SUBJECTS RESEARCH! Perhaps it’s because I work in a medical environment that I am particularly attuned to the risks involved in this type of research. If we conduct research on humans without full disclosure to them, then we run the risk of harm to them without their consent. How can learning analytics harm? I’m not sure of the answer to that question but perhaps more creative minds than mine can supply it. As educators we have a higher duty to our learners than does a large corporation like Target that may be collecting our purchasing information and using it to subtly influence our behavior. Yes, educators have been trying to shape behavior positively for centuries, but learning analytics has the potential of being so all-encompassing and pervasive that it differs to great degree from anything that has been done before. If you want learners to participate in your analytics, then ethically you must accept the risks of opt-out — it’s only fair because your students have to accept the risks of opting in!

    • Thanks for your post. Yes, Nancy this is true. How Can learning analytics be harmful. After Campbell’s talk, your question is even more important.I guess part of the answer is in how we use it.

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