Sunday, March 10, 2013

Our Right to Forget and Be Forgotten

Originally posted at The Educators' Cafe.

By Giulia Forsythe

I watched the last ETMOOC Topic 3 Digital Literacy – Information, Memes & Attention webinar "Who Owns Your Education Data? (and Why does it matter?) by Audrey Watters last night.  Audrey opened the session by saying that she hoped to drop a few 'THOUGHT BOMBS' in our heads about who owns our data.  Well, she succeeded.  As someone who feels pretty knowledgeable about digital, media, and/or information literacies, Audrey's session revealed the fact that I have a lot to learn on the topic of 'who owns education data.'    

Why it is important to know 'who owns education data': 

1.  Educators, students, and people love using apps.  Let's get interactive.  Raise your hand if you have signed up for an interesting app or Web2.0 service only to be asked if you read the Terms of Service (TOS), and checked, 'Yes.'  My hand it up, too!  Why don't we bother to read the TOS?  First, of all, who has the time, and if you tried to read them, would you even understand them?  They are purposefully difficult, long, and boring to read.  Audrey suggested checking out Terms of Service; Didn't Read a "user rights initiative to rate and label website terms & privacy policies."  Good stuff!  I'm feeling pretty good about my Flickr account but not so good about my WordPress account.

2.  There is an increasing corporate ownership in technology, which also means in education.  Does this bother you?  Should it?  THOUGHT BOMB

If you aren't paying for the product, you ARE the product. ~ Audrey Watters

Have you ever asked a student to sign up for an app or websites without really giving them a choice?  I worked in a school that wouldn't allow us to use real student data, so I usually signed up for EDU versions of sites that provided classroom accounts, or I allowed the students to use my account.  The problem with this is that the students do not have access to their work at the end of the school year.  There were some pretty cool projects that the students produced that represented many hours of work.  Who owns that learning?  I still have access to it, but who actually owns it?  What will happen to it in the years to come?  What about LMS?  Do students and their parents only have temporary access to their 'work'?  What happens when a student transfers schools, towns, cities, states, countries? 

Audrey posed the question, "Are we storing our digital content or data in a place that we can control?"  Some people in the chat suggested that students set up their own blogs, wikis, etc., so they have control over their data.  I imagine that some teachers, schools, districts will not like this because then they will 'lose control.'

What counts as education data?
What data is being collected?
How is it being used?
By whom?

3.  Think about copyright, licensing, control, privacy, security, control over our identity, anonymity, the ability to control our memories, and THOUGHT BOMB:

. . . our right to forget and be forgotten.  ~ Audrey Watters
Seriously, our right to forget and be forgotten should not be out of our control.  If someone posts something they are not proud of, do they really want to be reminded of it forever?  Shouldn't control of our memories be a right?  What about books checked out in the library, grades, absences, visits to the health room, suspensions, lunches purchased?  The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) "is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education."  This law might apply depending on what counts as education records.  Could work being done on a Web2.0 site be considered part of a student's education record?  Lots to consider.

What happens to your data upon your death?  Should we have a digital will?  Someone in the chat suggested listening to Death and Digital Literacy.   

4.  THOUGHT BOMB:  "Who owns your clicks?" ~ Audrey Watters

5.  THOUGHT BOMB:  "Data is the new oil." ~ Audrey Watters

6.  It all comes down to transparency vs privacy.        

So many THOUGHT BOMBS and questions to ponder, however, the one that keeps haunting me is:

". . . our right to forget and be forgotten."
Now, onto ETMOOC Topic 4:  The Open Movement--Open Access, OERs & Future of Education!  

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