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Monday, December 16, 2013

A Geographer Looks at EdTech in 2013 - Part 7 - Data vs. Privacy

--- This post is the seventh in a ten part series examining top 2013 trends in education technology in the context of GIS and geography education. ---

Watters notes that the collections and use of education related data was a trend in 2011 and 2012, but its appearance in 2013 is the most dismaying. Watters regularly explores how learning management systems (LMSs) and other software solutions collect data about students including their grades, how long they watch videos, their uses of social media and more. She asks, quite correctly, who owns those data and what can they legally do with the? She also pushes at the irony: the students are not always the ones benefiting from this data collection.

Privacy regarding personal and educational data is certainly worth attention. But now, privacy regarding student's location information around education is coming to the fore. For example:
We, as geospatial educators, need to raise the location privacy concern associated with these sorts of efforts. Are they required? Opt-in? Invasive? Transparent? Valuable?

That last question is most relevant in 2013. Remember the student who refused to wear an RFID-enabled ID tag because she felt it conflicted with her religious beliefs? A court did not support her preference to go un-badged. But, not long after, the school dropped the program because it didn't provide the expected return on investment.