Big Data is Getting Bigger. So Are the Privacy and Ethical Questions.

"I’m Goldie Blumenstyk, a senior writer at The Chronicle of Higher Education covering innovation in and around academe. For more than two years, I’ve been curating the weekly Re:Learning newsletter. Now I’ll be using it to share my observations on the people and ideas reshaping the higher-education landscape. Subscribe here. Here’s what’s on my mind this week," according to The Chronicle of Higher Education

"Big data is getting bigger. So are the privacy and ethical questions.

The next step in using 'big data' for student success is upon us. It’s a little cool. And also kind of creepy.

This new approach goes beyond the tactics now used by hundreds of colleges, which depend on data collected from sources like classroom teaching platforms and student-information systems. It not only makes a technological leap; it also raises issues around ethics and privacy.

Here’s how it works: Whenever you log on to a wireless network with your cellphone or computer, you leave a digital footprint. Move from one building to another while staying on the same network, and that network knows how long you stayed and where you went. That data is collected continuously and automatically from the network’s various nodes.

Now, with the help of a company called Degree Analytics, a few colleges are beginning to use location data collected from students’ cellphones and laptops as they move around campus. Some colleges are using it to improve the kind of advice they might send to students, like a text-message reminder to go to class if they’ve been absent.

... As I’ve previously highlighted, student advocates like Nicole Hurd worry that colleges obfuscate information about their financial-aid awards to the detriment of low-income and first-generation students. Two recent analyses of colleges’ letters to students bear that out. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators has tried to combat the practice with its own Code of Conduct for several years, but when its leaders saw the latest analysis, the group became, as its president Justin Draeger put it, 'very motivated to fix it.'

Earlier this summer Nasfaa went on record asking Congress to require colleges to use standardized terms to describe concepts like unsubsidized loans, net cost, and net price in their aid-award letters. The prevalence of misinformation, 'whether that’s from malintent or ignorance,' prompted the action, Draeger told me this week. 'It’s not often that you see groups asking for federal oversight,' he added, but Nasfaa 'recognizes the limitations of self policing.'"

NASFAA's "Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.


Publication Date: 8/6/2018

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