For too long, universities and colleges have accepted the “terms of service” for how educational technology vendors handle student data. Caulfield noted: “As the financial model of the web formed around the twin pillars of advertising and monetization of personal data, things went awry.”4 This has created an environment that puts students at risk with every click, every login. It disproportionately affects the most vulnerable students: undocumented students, students of color, LGBTQ+ students, and students who live in or on the edges of poverty. These students are prime targets for digital redlining: the misuse of data to exclude or exploit groups of people based on specific characteristics in their data.5 Thus, in higher education, we need to pay attention to the demands we place on students to produce data (e.g., application forms, SIS requests, learning management systems) and to how we care for that data (e.g., storage, transmission). Also, and perhaps most important in response to the influx of “learning-focused” technologies, we need to recognize and deconstruct our perspectives on the relationship of data to our understanding of student learning.
My article on Digital Sanctuary has been published as part of the New Horizons series of Educause Review.
Thanks to Mike Caulfield for providing the opportunity to write for this publication, and to Teddy Diggs for his excellent editing work.
The featured image on this post is a replica sanctuary knocker at Durham Cathedral. You can find these on many medieval cathedrals, including on Notre Dame in Paris (though Notre Dame’s is a ring, rather than a knocker).
The image on this post was taken by John Illingworth and shared via a Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 2.0 license.