Home News At Educause, a Push to Monitor Student Data is Met with Concerns About Privacy and Equity – EdSurge

At Educause, a Push to Monitor Student Data is Met with Concerns About Privacy and Equity – EdSurge

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CHICAGO — Colleges are increasingly using Big Data to monitor students, control their access to information and set them on learning paths they may not have chosen, argues Chris Gilliard, a professor at Macomb Community College, who says the practices add up to “digital redlining.”

“I don’t think education is a predictive task,” said Gilliard, criticizing the use of data systems that allegedly forecast student success or failure. “I’m seeing a whole lot of wreckage in the process that people aren’t considering.”

Gilliard presented his critique on Wednesday at the annual conference of Educause, one of the largest gatherings of college technology leaders. The very tools he objected to were prominently on display here, in a sprawling exhibit hall of vendors and at numerous sessions touting the benefits of algorithms in higher education.

For instance, brightly-colored booths throughout the exhibit hall promised to ingest all kinds of student information and spit out revelations for campus administrators. A director of innovation at the University of Texas at Dallas described in a presentation how his institution tests Echo Dots—which record sound data—in residence halls. And a representative from the University of Houston explained in a poster session how students can unlock the university’s campus app with their fingerprints or faces.

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