Balancing Privacy and Open Science in the Context of COVID-19: A Response to Ifenthaler & Schumacher (2016)

Balancing Privacy and Open Science in the Context of COVID-19: A Response to Ifenthaler & Schumacher (2016)

Abstract

Privacy and confidentiality are core considerations in education. At the same time, using and sharing data—and, more broadly, open science—are increasingly valued by editors, funding agencies, and the public, and learning analytics systems depend upon ready access to student data, the use of which might infringe upon the rights of students. This manuscript responds to an empirical investigation of students’ perceptions of the use of their data in learning analytics systems by Ifentahler and Schumacher (2016). We summarize their work in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shift to digital modes of teaching and learning by many teachers. We use the tension between privacy and open science to frame our response, and argue that whether one is carrying out empirical research or deploying a learning analytics system, balancing the (often seen as) competing values of openness and privacy is important and that doing so begins with a deep understanding of the specifics of the context. We conclude with a call for educational technology scholars to meet the challenge of studying learning (and disruptions to learning) in light of COVID-19 while protecting the privacy of students in ways that go beyond what Institutional Review Boards consider to be within their purview.

Publication
In Educational Technology Research and Development