Evaluating Analytics Policy - Block 4, Activity 21

I think reading the OU’s policies and to make sense of it would take probably 20-30 minutes. However, I have to say policies are not the thing that one wants to read about an issue that it’s not totally clear why it should be read and what the potential implications are or could be. I think students (including myself) would tend to just ‘click’ through.

The paper by Slade and Prinsloo (2014), suggests that this would tend to be the case and that most of the comments seem to be of the ‘huh’ variety. The rest was relatively what one would expect BUT there was concern for the purpose to which the data might be used. They highlighted the following student’s concern:

“There’s a huge difference IMO between anonymised data to observe/monitor large scale trends and the “snooping” variety of data collection tracking the individual. I’m happy for any of my data to be used in the former; with the latter I would be uncomfortable about the prospect that it would be used to label and categorise students in an unhelpful or intrusive way”.

Question is how could one inform students that (a) data can/might be collected; (b) it is supposed to help their learning and (c ) they shouldn’t be worried about privacy or security issues because the institution has taken very high precautions to do so?

The issue that I see with most ‘please read these policies and then accept them’ is that they, for legal reasons I guess, have to be so long. I mean when I read a standard operating systems acceptance of terms and conditions for a computer, it is more than 30 pages long.

I mean seriously!

My potential solution would be to somehow just hit students with ‘Are you concerned with your privacy when you study with us?’ huge banner that students have to encounter before accepting. Then perhaps only give them the basic issues that they need to be concerned about AND give them the option to ‘take a chance’ or ‘check out the small print’, in other words let them move through about 4 screens of basic facts (it’s there to help; it’s secure; it’s not used for any other purpose) and then give a link to read the fine detail, or trust the institution and accept then and there.

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Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.  -Will Durant