Education, Technology, Big Data, and You
Face-to-face, online, and hybrid courses make use of various technology tools to facilitate learning. These tools are varied and may have different purposes, such as a publisher resource system (ex: Pearson MyLab), a learning management system (ex: Canvas), a video site (ex: YouTube), among many others.
All online tools collect data in some fashion from their users. In an era of data breaches, identity theft, compromised credentials, browser fingerprinting, and much more, many people are wary of how their information is being used by other individuals and groups. As such, it’s critical to make students aware of any privacy policies that may impact how their data is being used by an entity.
Tools used in an educational environment, much like standard consumer tools, collect information from their users for a multitude of purposes. This information may be used to support product improvements, but may similarly be sold to a group in an attempt to market products to individuals. In some cases, a tool may even claim ownership over any work produced by an individual using their product. Simply put, if data is generated, there is a possibility for a group to find a way to quantify it, manipulate it, and use it for their own purposes.
What Can I Do About It?
As an instructor, it’s important to make students aware of privacy policies for any tools used in a course. This allows students to determine if they are willing to use a tool versus the cost of their data. In many cases, a student will still opt to use a tool. If a student has a reservation about using a tool they can then contact the tool’s creators for clarification, or inform their instructor of their reason to not use the tool.
Other Resources to Review About Privacy
There are a number of resources available online regarding student privacy and privacy in general. Here is a sampling of such resources.
- Standard 14 – Course includes links to privacy policies for technology tools – Open SUNY Quality Course Review Rubric
- 7 Things You Should Know About How Learning Data Impacts Privacy – EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative
- Student Data vs Student Privacy – Hack Education (Audrey Watters)
- Privacy and Education Technology – US Department of Education
- Student Privacy and Ed Tech – US Federal Trade Commission
- Equifax’s massive 2017 data breach keeps getting worse – Washington Post (by Brian Fung, March 1, 2018)
- Identity Theft Resource Center – Krebs on Security
- Have I Been Pwned? – Checks if an email has been involved in a data breach, created by Troy Hunt, a Microsoft Regional Director and MVP
- Now sites can fingerprint you online even when you use multiple browsers – Ars Technica (by Dan Goodin, February 13, 2017)
- How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking – Wired (by Mat Honan, August 6, 2012)
Have questions about instruction, course design, teaching methods, technology to help, or more? Please contact the Center for Teaching & Learning through our contact form or by phone at (708) 974-5347.