The shift towards data-driven education has the potential to revolutionize education — providing broad access to high quality resources that are personalized to specific students' needs. Education technology reformers promise a utopia where automated systems can better diagnose learner progress and evaluate teaching efficacy. To do so, university administrations increasingly employ systems of constant surveillance that collect information about students’ interactions with both digital and physical environments. Advocates propose creating blockchain transcripts that will enable students to document informal learning and carry records across educational institutions.
Current privacy laws like the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and institutional policies focus on limiting student data disclosure and commercial use. They rarely address the important issues new information practices with respect to the content, goals, and values of American education and the cultural context of education reform. The implementation of these technologies creates structural shifts that risk displacing pedagogical decisionmaking to private technology providers, undermining educator autonomy, and reducing learning to a series of quantifiable outcomes. Relying on big data predictions and creating indelible academic records may retrench, rather than ameliorate, traditional inequities. This presentation examines the rise, regulation, and implications of new education technology and situates both their promise and peril in the context of America's economic, democratic, and cultural values.
Elana Zeide is an associate research scholar at CITP, a visiting fellow at Yale University's Information Society Project, an affiliate of New York University’s Information Law Institute and the Data & Society Research Institute, and an advisory board member of the Future of Privacy Forum. She works as attorney, scholar, and consultant focusing on student privacy, predictive analytics, and the proverbial permanent record in the age of big data. She examines the law, policies, and cultural norms emerging as education, and the rest of society, becomes increasingly data-driven. Zeide advises parents, educators, companies, and policymakers on student information practices in traditional schools, virtual learning environments, and the commercial sphere. She also writes for both popular and academic publications, recently including a discussion of algorithmic profiling on Slate, an article examining student privacy regulation in the Drexel Law Review, and a chapter on legal requirement and best practices in the forthcoming Handbook of Learning Analytics & Educational Data Mining.
Zeide graduated from Yale University and New York University’s School of Law. She subsequently worked as a litigation associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLC, a legal analyst at Bloomberg L.P., and a visiting professor at Yale University, where she taught courses on Free Speech and the First Amendment before opening her own privacy and technology law practice.
Prior to becoming an attorney, Zeide was a journalist and pop culture columnist in London and New York, and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Nonfiction Writing from Columbia University’s School of the Arts. She believes she is the only person to have both reported for and legally represented The National Enquirer.