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Professors and the Permanent Record: Implications of Big-data Driven Education, Personalized Learning, and Blockchain Credentials

Monday, May 8, 2017
1:00 pm


210 Dickinson Hall
Dickinson Hall Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544 United States
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Hosted by the Program in American Studies

Speaker: Elana Zeide, Associate Research Scholar, CITP

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 decision-making 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.