We are on the cusp of a digital learning revolution where the availability of artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies can help transform teaching and learning.
This relies on the safe and intelligent use of data.
HEPI/Tribal’s survey, Students or data subjects? What students think about university data security, published today, finds that students are generally willing for their data to be used anonymously to improve the experience of other students.
Through Education 4.0, Jisc is working to support universities to transform education using data-intensive technology to meet the demands of Industry 4.0. To support this transformation, students must be fully aware of what data universities need from them and the benefits that data analysis can offer.
One way in which universities are using data to benefit students is learning analytics. Jisc has developed its own service in partnership with universities and colleges, which brings together existing data which staff can use to support learners with their studies. Jisc is also working with universities to explore how data analytics can be used to improve student wellbeing and to develop a base of evidence showing the benefits of learning analytics.
However, the HEPI/Tribal survey also reveals concerns about how student data is used, particularly around the handling of information that identifies students as individuals and data confidentiality. Jisc’s own 2019 digital experience insights survey of more than 30,000 students found that less than one third of university students (31%) agreed that they were told how their personal data is stored and used. There is clearly room for improvement in this area and it is critical that universities can be confident and capable in deploying data analytics to support teaching and learning, while knowing that students trust them with their data.
Code of practice
To address this, Jisc has worked with the National Union of Students on a code of practice for learning analytics, which provides guidance to universities and colleges exploring the use of data analytics to support teaching and learning. The code of practice highlights universities and colleges’ responsibilities to carry out learning analytics responsibly and addresses legal, ethical and logistical issues which are likely to arise. These include making students aware of what data is required and the purpose of learning analytics: to benefit students in their academic journey.
By developing our code of practice further, we hope to help institutions investigating the use of student activity data to improve their provision of student support services. Earlier this year, Jisc was selected by the Information Commissioner’s Office to participate in the ICO Sandbox, which will allow us to draw on the ICO’s expertise in data protection to make sure that our guidance represents best practice.
We hope that the code is helping universities to make students aware of how their data is used for learning analytics. We would welcome hearing from universities and students to explore how confidence in data governance can be improved further.
If you have any comments on the responsible use of data in higher or further education, or ideas for how students can be made more aware of it, please contact Andrew Cormack (email@example.com).