Advertisement

Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 1473–1496 | Cite as

Users or Students? Privacy in University MOOCS

  • Meg Leta JonesEmail author
  • Lucas Regner
Original Paper

Abstract

Two terms, student privacy and Massive Open Online Courses, have received a significant amount of attention recently. Both represent interesting sites of change in entrenched structures, one educational and one legal. MOOCs represent something college courses have never been able to provide: universal access. Universities not wanting to miss the MOOC wave have started to build MOOC courses and integrate them into the university system in various ways. However, the design and scale of university MOOCs create tension for privacy laws intended to regulate information practices exercised by educational institutions. Are MOOCs part of the educational institutions these laws and policies aim to regulate? Are MOOC users students whose data are protected by aforementioned laws and policies? Many university researchers and faculty members are asked to participate as designers and instructors in MOOCs but may not know how to approach the issues proposed. While recent scholarship has addressed the disruptive nature of MOOCs, student privacy generally, and data privacy in the K-12 system, we provide an in-depth description and analysis of the MOOC phenomenon and the privacy laws and policies that guide and regulate educational institutions today. We offer privacy case studies of three major MOOC providers active in the market today to reveal inconsistencies among MOOC platform and the level and type of legal uncertainty surrounding them. Finally, we provide a list of organizational questions to pose internally to navigate the uncertainty presented to university MOOC teams.

Keywords

Privacy University research Technology policy Higher education Education law 

References

  1. Adamopoulos, P. (2013). What makes a great MOOC? An interdisciplinary analysis of online course student retention. In Proceedings of the 34th international conference on information systems, ICIS (p. 13).Google Scholar
  2. Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2013). Changing course: Ten years of tracking online education in the United States. Sloan Consortium. http://onlinelearningconsortium.org/survey_report/changing-course-ten-years-tracking-online-education-united-states/. Retrieved 16 Feb 2015.
  3. Berkman Center for Internet & Society. (2015). Student privacy initiative. https://cyber.law.harvard.edu/publications/2014/spi_publications. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  4. Blanchard, J. (2007). University tort liability and student suicide: Case review and implications for practice. JL & Education, 36, 461.Google Scholar
  5. Britz, J., & Zimmer, M. (eds.). (2014). International Review of Information Ethics, 21.Google Scholar
  6. Cormier, D. (2008). The CCK08 MOOC—connectivism course, 1/4 way. Dave’s Educational Blog. http://davecormier.com/edblog/2008/10/02/the-cck08-mooc-connectivism-course-14-way/. Retrieved 5 Aug 2014.
  7. Daggett, L. M. (2008). Student privacy and the protection of pupil rights act as amended by no child left behind. UC Davis J. Juv. L. & Pol’y, 12, 51.Google Scholar
  8. Department of Education. (2008). Family educational rights and privacy, 34 CFR Part 99.Google Scholar
  9. Department of Education. (n.d.). Frequently asked questions about FERPA. http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferpafaq.pdf. Retrieved 16 Feb 2015.
  10. Downes, S. (2009). Access2OER: The CCK08 solution. Half an Hour (Personal Blog). http://halfanhour.blogspot.com/2009/02/access2oer-cck08-solution.html. Retrieved 5 Aug 2014.
  11. Duncan, A. (2014). Letter to Sen. Edward Markey. http://www.markey.senate.gov/documents/2014-01-10_Education_Privacy.pdf. Retrieved 16 Feb 2015.
  12. Federal Trade Commission. (2014). Complying with COPPA: Frequently Asked Questions. http://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/complying-coppa-frequently-asked-questions. Retrieved 16 Feb 2015.
  13. Fischer, L., Schimmel, D., & Kelly, C. (1995). Teachers and the law (4th ed.). White Plains, NY: Longman.Google Scholar
  14. Future of Privacy Forum. (2015). Student privacy. http://www.futureofprivacy.org/issues/student-privacy/. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  15. Gardner, L., & Young, J. (2013). California’s move toward MOOCs sends shock waves, but key questions remain unanswered. Chronicle of Higher Education. http://chronicle.com/article/A-Bold-Move-Toward-MOOCs-Sends/137903/. Retrieved 8 Aug 2014.
  16. Horn, M. (2014). inBloom’s collapse offers lessons for innovation in education. Forbes.com. http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelhorn/2014/12/04/inblooms-collapse-offers-lessons-for-innovation-in-education/. Retrieved 16 Feb 2015.
  17. Johnson, T. P. (1993). Managing student records: The Courts and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. West’s Education Law Quarterly, 2(2), 260–276.Google Scholar
  18. Kerckhoff, A. C., & Glennie, E. (1999). The Matthew effect in American education. Research in Sociology of Education and Socialization, 12(1), 35–66.Google Scholar
  19. Kolowich, S. (2013a). A university’s offer of credit for MOOC gets no takers. Chronicle of Higher Education. http://chronicle.com/article/A-Universitys-Offer-of-Credit/140131/. Retrieved 8 Aug 2014.
  20. Kolowich, S. (2013b). California puts MOOC bill on ice. Chronicle of Higher Education. http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/california-puts-mooc-bill-on-ice/45215. Retrieved 8 Aug 2014.
  21. Kolowich, S. (2013c). American Council on Education Recommends 5 MOOCs for credit. Chronicle of Higher Education. http://chronicle.com/article/American-Council-on-Education/137155/. Retrieved 8 Aug 2014.
  22. Leckart, S. (2012). The Stanford education experiment could change higher learning. Wired.com. http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/03/ff_aiclass/. Retrieved 5 Aug 2014.
  23. Lucas, H. (2014). Disrupting and transforming the university. Communications of the ACM, 57(10), 32–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. MacCarthy, M. (2014). Student privacy: Harm and context. International Review of Information Ethics, 21, 11.Google Scholar
  25. Mawdsley, R. D., & Russo, C. J. (2002). Limiting the reach of FERPA into the classroom: Owasso school district v. Falvo. West Education Law Reporter, 165, 1–13.Google Scholar
  26. Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R., & Baumgartner, L. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  27. Nesterko, S. O., Dotsenko, S., Han, Q., Seaton, D., Reich, J., Chuang, I., & Ho, A. D. (2013). Evaluating the geographic data in moocs. In Neural information processing systems. http://nesterko.com/files/papers/nips2013-nesterko.pdf
  28. Noer, M. (2012). One man, one computer, 10 million students: How Khan Academy is reinventing education. Forbes.com. http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelnoer/2012/11/02/one-man-one-computer-10-million-students-how-khan-academy-is-reinventing-education/. Retrieved 8 Aug 2014.
  29. O’Donnell, M. L. (2003). FERPA: Only a piece of the privacy puzzle. Journal of College and University Law, 29, 279–715.Google Scholar
  30. Pariser, E. (2011). The filter bubble: How the new personalized web is changing what we read and how we think. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  31. Penrose, M. M. (2012). In the name of Watergate: Returning FERPA to its original design. 14 N.Y.U. J. Legis. & Pub. Pol. 75, 96.Google Scholar
  32. Piech, C., Huang, J., Chen, Z., Do, C., Ng, A., & Koller, D. (2013). Tuned models of peer assessment in MOOCs. arXiv preprint arXiv:1307.2579.Google Scholar
  33. Polonetsky, J., & Tene, O. (2014). The ethics of student privacy: Building trust for Ed Tech. International Review of Information Ethics, 21, 31–32.Google Scholar
  34. Privacy Technical Assistance Center. (2012). PTAC-FAQ. http://ptac.ed.gov/sites/default/files/cloud-computing.pdf. Retrieved 16 Feb 2015.
  35. Sandeen, C. (2013). Integrating MOOCS into traditional higher education: The emerging “MOOC 3.0” Era. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 45(6), 34–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sheridan, K. (2013). Blackboard MOOC gains 15 more colleges. InformationWeek. http://www.informationweek.com/software/blackboard-mooc-gains-15-more-colleges/d/d-id/1110778. Retrieved 16 Feb 2015.
  37. Simon, S. (2014). Data mining your children. Politico. http://www.politico.com/story/2014/05/data-mining-your-children-106676.html. Retrieved 5 Aug 2014.
  38. Solove, D. (2013). Privacy self-management and the consent dilemma. Har. L. Rev., 126, 1880.Google Scholar
  39. Straumsheim, C. (2014). Proactive on prior learning. Inside Higher Ed. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/04/15/accept-moocs-credit-florida-international-u-may-set-prior-learning-assessment. Retrieved 16 Feb 2014.
  40. The White House. (2012). Consumer data privacy in a networked world: a framework for protecting privacy and promoting innovation in the global digital economy (Report). http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/privacy-final.pdf
  41. The White House. (2015). FACT SHEET: Safeguarding American Consumers & Families (Press Release). http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/01/12/fact-sheet-safeguarding-american-consumers-families
  42. Toglia, T. V. (2007). How does the family rights and privacy act affect you? Tech Directions, 67(2), 32–35.Google Scholar
  43. Turow, J. (2013). The daily you: How the new advertising industry is defining your identity and your worth. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Virginia Tech IRB. (2015). FAQ for Academic Assessment Research. http://www.irb.vt.edu/pages/assessment.htm. Retrieved 16 Feb 2015.
  45. ‘Watered Down’ MOOC Bill Becomes Law In Florida. (2013). Inside Higher Ed. http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2013/07/01/watered-down-mooc-bill-becomes-law-florida. Retrieved 8 Aug 2014.
  46. What You Need to Know About MOOCs. (2014). The Chronicle of Higher Education. http://chronicle.com/article/What-You-Need-to-Know-About/133475/=. Retrieved 5 Aug 2014.
  47. Young, J. (2012). Inside the Coursera Contract: How an upstart company might profit from free courses. Chronicle of Higher Education. http://chronicle.com/article/How-an-Upstart-Company-Might/133065/. Retrieved 16 Feb 2014.
  48. Young, J. (2013). California puts MOOC bill on ice. Chronicle of Higher Education: Campus Wired Blog. http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/california-puts-mooc-bill-on-ice/45215. Retrieved 8 Aug 2014.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Communication, Culture and Technology DepartmentGeorgetown UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.American UniversityWashingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations