Answer to "What are some of the ethical considerations involved in learning analytics?"
Topic Editor: Dr. Stefanie Sebok-Syer, Stanford University
Privacy is an obstacle when it comes to learning analytics. Concerns about who should be able to access data and how it should be used also get much attention in the literature. Data governance – which is who can access what, when, and why – can influence the utility and extent to which learning analytics can have a meaningful impact. This can be observed when there are limited leadership and management capabilities to ensure that learning analytic systems are thoughtfully developed and monitored. Issues surrounding data ownership and access, especially when individuals belong or move between various institutions and systems, can limit the value generated from educational data. Careful attention must be paid to deploying learning analytic systems that will operate with little to no human oversight less they reinforce existing biases. For example, learning analytics systems used for admissions purposes may use socioeconomic or demographic information to inform decision-making. This could inadvertently reinforce stereotypes and biases about various groups of individuals. To mitigate ethical issues related stemming from learning analytics, policies and guidelines should be developed to support appropriate data use.
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