Defining “data” in conversations with students about the ethical use of learning analytics


  • Abi Brooker
  • Linda Corrin
  • Josie Fisher
  • Negin Mirriahi



data, ethics, learning analytics, students


In any conversation about the development of ethical standards for practice, it is vital that all stakeholders have a shared understanding of the main concepts in order to reach agreement. In the context of higher education and learning analytics, while many conversations are underway, it is less clear that such a shared understanding exists around the concept of “data”. In order to understand this situation more fully we conducted a study to investigate students’ perceptions of the ethical and privacy considerations related to the data that universities collect and use about them for the purposes of learning analytics. In this paper, we focus specifically on the understandings students have of the types of data that can be collected about them within the educational environment. The outcomes showed that there was a diversity of understandings, but that five main data types emerged. In developing a better understanding of the ways students understand data, it can assist institutions to have more effective conversations with students about the ethical use of learning analytics.






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