Giving Compass' Take:

• Bryan Short shares the journey that brought him to work on advancing students rights to learning data. 

• How can funders work to support efforts to increase students access to and control of their education data? 

• Read about students data privacy

Institutions have access to more student data than ever before—but it's hard to really grasp what that means, since many of the digital tools that colleges use are from third parties or companies that keep their algorithms private. That makes it hard for students, professors or even journalists to get a glimpse inside.

What does the Freedom of Information and Privacy Association do in Canada, and what are some of the areas that your organization is trying to tackle?

We’re a non-profit, non-partisan organization, founded in 1991—way before there was any freedom of information or privacy laws here in B.C. The organization back then was instrumental in passing what’s now known as the B.C. Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. These days we do a lot of workshops and special projects around freedom of information and privacy issues and advocacy work because that act was passed back in 1992. A lot has changed—they were using fax machines back then and now we have the internet. So some updates are in order.

What could the institutions that use these tools do to improve some of those of those practices?

I think allowing people to use the systems anonymously if a student had a privacy concern would be beneficial. I think reorganizing and sort of interrogating the way that they are achieving consent with students would go a long way. And allowing some customization there, saying you know you can collect this for this use or you can collect that for that use, but maybe not this one thing. So, having options to opt in and opt out and a positive consent model. Then transparency, just saying, “we’re doing this and we’re doing it because we’re hoping to help you.”

Read the full interview with Bryan Short about student rights to learning data by Sydney Johnson at EdSurge.