Ethical Considerations in Adopting a University- and System-Wide Approach to Data and Learning Analytics
The rapid adoption of learning analytics in the higher education sector has not been matched by ethical considerations surrounding their use, with ethical issues now slated as one of the major concerns facing learning analytics. Further, adoption of learning analytics within universities has typically involved small-scale projects rather than university- or system-wide approaches, and missing from the research literature is consideration of learning analytics from a ‘big systems’ point of view. We begin to address these gaps through providing an introduction to ethical considerations in adopting a university- and system-wide approach to learning analytics. Drawing on the existing literature on ethical considerations associated with learning analytics, we identify key questions that require consideration during the process of introducing learning analytics within a university. We then map these questions onto layers of systems and roles within universities, detailing how these ethical considerations may affect learning analytics decisions at differing levels of the university.
KeywordsLearning analytics Ethical considerations Big data Privacy Student agency Consent Data governance
- Arnold, K. E., & Pistilli, M. D. (2012). Course signals at Purdue: Using learning analytics to increase student success. Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK ‘12) (pp. 267–270). New York: ACM.Google Scholar
- Beattie, S., Woodley, C., & Souter, K. (2014). Creepy analytics and learner data rights. In B. Hegarty, J. McDonald & S. -K. Loke (Eds.), Rhetoric and reality: Critical perspectives on educational technology. Proceedings ascilite (pp. 421–425).Google Scholar
- Bloor Research. (2014). Creating confidence in big data analytics. Retrieved from http://www.bloorresearch.com/research/white-paper/creating-confidence-big-data-analytics/.
- Buckingham Shum, S. (2012). Learning analytics. UNESCO Policy Brief. Retrieved from http://iite.unesco.org/pics/publications/en/files/3214711.pdf.
- Campbell, J. P., DeBlois, P. B., & Oblinger, D. G. (2007). Academic analytics: A new tool for a new era. EDUCAUSE Review, 42(4), 40–52.Google Scholar
- Chai, K. E. K., & Gibson, D. (2015). Predicting the risk of attrition for undergraduate students with time based modelling. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Cognition and Exploratory Learning in the Digital Age, CELDA 2015 (pp. 109–116). Retrieved from http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-84961786619&partnerID=tZOtx3y1.
- Cohen, R. (2006). What’s in a name? Data governance roles, responsibilities and results factors. Information Management. Retrieved from http://www.information-management.com/news/columns/-1057220-1.html.
- Connolly, B. (2014). Don’t cross the ‘creepy line’ of data analytics. CIO Australia. Retrieved from http://www.cio.com.au/article/538947/don_t_cross_creepy_line_data_analytics/
- Corrin, L., Kennedy, G., & Mulder, R. (2013). Enhancing learning analytics by understanding the needs of teachers. Electric dreams. Proceedings (pp. 201–205). Ascilite.Google Scholar
- Curtin University Foundation. (2015). Annual Report 2014. Retrieved from http://about.curtin.edu.au/files/2015/03/curtin-2014-annual-report-full-report.pdf.
- de Freitas, S., Gibson, D., du Plessis, C., Halloran, P., Williams, E., Ambrose, M., et al. (2014). Foundations of dynamic learning analytics: Using university student data to increase retention. British Journal of Educational Technology. [Online]. doi: 10.1111/bjet.12212.
- De Haes, S., & Van Grembergen, W. (2004). IT governance and its mechanisms. Information Systems Control Journal, 1, 1–7.Google Scholar
- Dietz-Uhler, B., & Hurn, J. E. (2013). Using learning analytics to predict (and improve) student success: A faculty perspective. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 12, 17–26.Google Scholar
- Drachsler, H., & Greller, W. (2012). The pulse of learning analytics: Understandings and expectations from stakeholders. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge (pp. 120–129). ACM.Google Scholar
- Drachsler, H., Hoel, T., Scheffel, M., Kismihók, G., Berg, A., Ferguson, R., et al. (2015, March). Ethical and privacy issues in the application of learning analytics. In Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge (pp. 390–391). ACM.Google Scholar
- Dringus, L. P. (2012). Learning analytics considered harmful. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(3), 87–100.Google Scholar
- EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research. (2012). ECAR analytics maturity index for higher education. Retrieved September 29, 2014, from http://www.educause.edu/ecar/research-publications/ecar-analytics-maturity-index-higher-education.
- Fisher, J., Valenzuela, F-R., & Whale, S. (2014). Learning analytics: A bottom-up approach to enhancing and evaluating students’ online learning. Retrieved from http://www.olt.gov.au/system/files/resources/SD12_2567_Fisher_Report_2014.pdf.
- Friedman, T. (2006, March). Key issues for data management and integration, 2006, Gartner Research. ID number: G00138812.Google Scholar
- Gill, M. D. (2005). Governing for results: A director’s guide to good governance. Bloomington, IN: Trafford.Google Scholar
- Graf, S., Ives, C., Lockyer, L., Hobson, P., & Clow, D. (2012). Building a data governance model for learning analytics. Panel at LAK’12, Vancouver.Google Scholar
- Greller, W., & Drachsler, H. (2012). Translating learning into numbers: A generic framework for learning analytics. Educational Technology & Society, 15(3), 42–57.Google Scholar
- Griffiths, D. (2013). The implications of analytics for teaching practice in higher education. Cetis Analytics Series, 1(10). Retrieved from http://publications.cetis.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Analytics-for-Teaching-Practice-Vol-1-No-10.pdf.
- Kay, D., Korn, N., & Oppenheim, C. (2012). Legal, risk and ethical aspects of analytics. Cetis Analytics Series, 1(6). Retrieved from http://publications.cetis.ac.uk/2012/500.
- Long, P., & Siemens, G. (2011). Penetrating the fog: Analytics in learning and education. EDUCAUSE Review, 46(5). Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/penetrating-fog-analytics-learning-and-education.
- Macfadyen, L. P., Dawson, S., Pardo, A., & Gaševic, D. (2014). Embracing big data in complex educational systems: The learning analytics imperative and the policy challenge. Research & Practice in Assessment, 9, 17–28.Google Scholar
- MacNeill, S., Campbell, L. M., & Hawksey, M. (2014). Analytics for education. Journal of Interactive Media in Education. Retrieved from http://jime.open.ac.uk/jime/article/viewArticle/2014-07/html.
- Marinos, G. (2004). Data quality: The hidden assumption behind COSO. DM Review, 14(10), 12–15.Google Scholar
- New Media Consortium. (2015). NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Higher Education Edition. Retrieved from http://www.nmc.org/publication/nmc-horizon-report-2015-higher-education-edition/.
- Open University. (2014). Policy on ethical use of student data for learning analytics. Retrieved from http://www.open.ac.uk/students/charter/essential-documents/ethical-use-student-data-learning-analytics-policy.
- Peterson, R. R. (2004a). Information strategies and tactics for information technology governance. In W. Van Grembergen (Ed.), Strategies for information technology governance. Hershey, PA: Idea Group.Google Scholar
- Prinsloo, P., & Slade, S. (2014). Educational triage in open distance learning: Walking a moral tightrope. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 15(4), 306–331.Google Scholar
- Prinsloo, P., & Slade, S. (2015). Student privacy self-management: implications for learning analytics. In Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge (pp. 83–92). ACM.Google Scholar
- Sclater, N., & Bailey, P. (2015). Code of practice for learning analytics 2015. Retrieved from https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/code-of-practice-for-learning-analytics.
- Siemens, G., Dawson, S., & Lynch, G. (2013). Improving the quality and productivity of the higher education sector: Policy and strategy for systems-level deployment of learning analytics. Retrieved from http://www.olt.gov.au/system/files/resources/SoLAR_Report_2014.pdf.
- Swenson, J. (2014, March). Establishing an ethical literacy for learning analytics. Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge (pp. 246–250).Google Scholar
- Thomas, G. (2006). Alpha males and data disaster: The case for data governance. Orlando, FL: Brass Cannon Press.Google Scholar
- Willis, J. E., III, Campbell, J., & Pistilli, M. (2013). Ethics, big data, and analytics: A model for application. Educause Review. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/ethics-big-data-and-analytics-model-application.
- Willis, J. E., III, & Pistilli, M. D. (2014). Ethical discourse: Guiding the future of learning analytics. EDUCAUSE Review [Online]. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/ethical-discourse-guiding-future-learning-analytics.