Privacy and Data Protection in Learning Analytics should be motivated by an Educational Maxim - towards a proposal


Publication date


Series/Report no

Research and Practice of Technology Enhanced Learning;(2018) 13:20


Springer Open

Document type


Privacy and data protection are a major stumbling blocks for a data-driven educational future. Privacy policies are based on legal regulations, which in turn get their justification from political, cultural, economical and other kinds of discourses. Applied to learning analytics, do these policies also need a pedagogical grounding? This paper is based on an actual conundrum in developing a technical specification on privacy and data protection for learning analytics for an international standardisation organisation. Legal arguments vary a lot around the world, and seeking ontological arguments for privacy does not necessarily lead to a universal acclaim of safeguarding the learner meeting the new data-driven practices in education. Maybe it would be easier to build consensus around educational values, but is it possible to do so? This paper explores the legal and cultural contexts that make it a challenge to define universal principles for privacy and data protection. If not universal principles, consent could be the point of departure for assuring privacy? In education, this is not necessarily the case as consent will be balanced by organisations’ legitimate interests and contract. The different justifications for privacy, the legal obligation to separate analysis from intervention, and the way learning and teaching works makes it necessary to argue data privacy from a pedagogical perspective. The paper concludes with three principles that are proposed to inform an educational maxim for privacy and data protection in learning analytics.




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