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Thursday, November 12 • 10:00am - 10:55am
Privacy and Surveillance in Digital Courseware

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The current generation of digital courseware, particularly that marketed under the term “inclusive access,” poses a threat to the future of open education. Purporting to address the affordability crisis in academic courseware, publishers have devised an automatic billing model that depends on group-based subscriptions in order to provide to students discounted materials, and, not incidentally, gather a vast amount of student data. The collected data are put to various uses, including product development and learning analytics, the results of which are sometimes made available to the students’ home institutions - most often to the faculty in specific courses – as information about the students’ use of the materials.

This panel will focus on the surveillance and privacy issues inherent in the use of inclusive access products. Students in classes for which the courseware is required are a captive market: if they want to succeed in class, they have no option but to agree to privacy terms that allow for the collection, analysis, and use of their data. Students lose control of their personal identity, with no say in how much to reveal and how much to conceal about themselves and their learning behaviors.

An additional concern relates to diversity and equity. A growing body of evidence reveals the potential danger inherent in big data analysis of exacerbating inequality; for instance, those social groups with the greatest representation in data sets will often see the greatest benefit from data-driven decision-making.

This panel will explore the practical, ethical, and legal dimensions of this issue, helping participants understand the privacy implications of using inclusive access courseware and its importance in the context of open education. Panelists will discuss how the data is gathered and used; what privacy agreements say and don’t say about privacy protection; what role FERPA plays in protecting privacy; how US privacy law enables surveillance-based business models. We hope to generate discussion among the participants on how best to generate and sustain conversations on college campuses about the ethical implications of adopting data-collecting courseware.


Learning Outcomes:
•Understand the implications for student privacy in the use of digital courseware, especially inclusive access products.
•Understand the strengths and limitations of FERPA in protecting privacy.
•Understand surveillance within the context of US privacy law
•Learn how to read and interpret privacy statements that accompany digital courseware.
•Develop strategies for investigating and communicating courseware-related privacy issues at your own institution.

Speakers
avatar for Brandon Butler

Brandon Butler

Director of Information Policy, University of Virginia Library
Brandon is the first Director of Information Policy at the UVA Library. He provides guidance and education to the Library and its user community on intellectual property and related issues, and advocates on the Library's behalf. He received his J.D. from the UVA School of Law in... Read More →
avatar for Cecelia Parks

Cecelia Parks

Undergraduate Student Success Librarian, University of Virginia Library
Cecelia is an Undergraduate Student Success Librarian at the University of Virginia, where she mostly works with first-year students in general education classes. She received her MLS from the University of Maryland and is working towards an MA in History from the University of Mississippi... Read More →
avatar for Judith Thomas

Judith Thomas

Director of Faculty Programs, University of Virginia Library


Thursday November 12, 2020 10:00am - 10:55am EST
Concurrent 2
  Challenges, Panel