Guidelines to ensure the ethical use of data gathered from online learners need to be developed, to prevent the misuse of personal information, a group of academics has said.
Delegates at the Asilomar Convention for Learning Research in Higher Education, which took place in California earlier this month, have produced a framework to promote the appropriate use of both learners’ personal information, and any research based on their activity.
The document states that six principles should inform the collection, storage, distribution and analysis of information gathered from people who engage with online learning resources such as massive open online courses.
These include having respect for the rights and dignity of learners and ensuring that digital technologies never erode the relationships that make learning “a humane enterprise”.
“Virtually all modern societies have strong traditions for protecting individuals in their interactions with large organizations, especially for purposes of scientific research, yet digital media present problems for the inheritors of those traditions,” the document says.