With the increasing use of technology, e-learning is becoming ubiquitous. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced educators to offer most of their courses online, further accelerating this shift, but the long-term impact on the education industry is yet to be seen.

Of immediate concern is the increasing amount of learners’ personal information that is collected on-line. Students have little choice in how their data are used, so it is up to educators and institutions to create and adhere to stringent data privacy standards and procedures.

This can be challenging as current approaches to data privacy may remove information, reducing its value for Learning Analytics (LA). Common privacy risk reduction techniques can be used to address these concerns, but they can often be reversed. These shortcomings severely limit the ability of educators and technologists to safely use the data to innovate and improve.

Researchers have responded with methodological frameworks such as Andrew Cormack’s (2016, SOLAR), “Data Protection Framework for Learning Analytics” and University of South Australia Professors Abelardo Pardo & George Siemens (2014, BJET) “Ethical & privacy principles for learning analytics”. However, little LA-centric research has been conducted.

A CRC-P was conceived to address these shortcomings. It involves a multi-disciplinary collaboration between EdTech provider Practera, University of South Australia, data privacy experts CSIRO/Data61, education provider Navitas, EdTech peak body Edugrowth and cybersecurity experts Cybermerc.

The aim is to provide a platform for educators and EdTech to measurably, provably, and irreversibly reduce the privacy risk of learning data whilst preserving its usefulness for LA. Access to consistent and provable risk metrics will allow educators to set measurable data privacy standards and apply policy-driven risk reduction. With this solution in place, educators will be able to make fuller use of their student data for innovation and competition while maintaining its safety.

Dr Ruth Marshall, Project Director and EdTech lead, Practera

Dr Srecko Joksimovic, Learning Analytics Lead, University of South Australia

Professor Abelardo Pardo, Dean of Programmes (Engineering) University of South Australia STEM

Dr Djazia Ladjal, Data Science Lead, Practera


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