How to give students control of their data


Everybody’s talking about Big Data and Learning Analytics, but if you don’t solve privacy first it is going to be killed before it has really started.” These are the words of Larry Johnson, CEO of the New Media Consortium (NMC), known for their Horizon Trend Reports about the latest trends in educational technology worldwide.

I spoke to Larry just before this summer, a couple of weeks after InBloom, an American platform for central exchange of educational data, announced its closure after heavy protests of parents concerned about student privacy.

Privacy and learning analytics

At Kennisnet we are investigating the possibilities for education to benefit from learning analytics without sacrificing privacy. In line with the new EU Regulation on data protection we choose for Privacy by Design principles as a starting point. Next, we use the open User Managed Access (UMA) standard The student, or parent for underage students, has a central place and is the owner of his own educational data.

Instead of raising the privacy issue by fear, pointing out potential risks, we visualized a possible solution for future management of access to data by students. We designed a mock-up that naturally raises questions about the current way of dealing with data in education. An online dashboard offers transparency about which data is being collected in the process of learning and for what purpose at any time and place. The student or parent can decide for himself who has access to which data and for how long, see also the screenshots in the Slideshare presentation shown below.

In The Netherlands there is a growing support for this ‘user-centric’ approach among experts from various fields in private and public sector (e.g. Dutch Ministries of Internal Affairs and of Education), and also among innovative school leaders and edtech start-ups. However, dealing with student privacy in the light of learning analytics, big data and personalized learning is a problem shared by many countries. Working together on an international level on solutions based on open standards and accepted principles as Privacy by Design is preferred. The LACE project forms an excellent platform for this discussion.

Vote for this concept at SXSWedu!

We also like to present this concept at the SXSWedu 2015 conference, see the pitch below. But this is only possible if we get enough votes, so please help us out and vote for us here (before September the 5th!)!


About Author

Erwin is a project manager at the Unit Innovation of the Kennisnet Foundation, the public educational organization which supports and inspires Dutch primary, secondary and vocational institutions in the effective use of new technology. Erwin is a designer by background and is specialized in helping schools to improve their innovation skills. His interest is on the intersection of educational philosophy, innovation management, usability and new technology and his field of work includes subjects as design thinking, learning analytics, privacy by design and 21st century skills.