Guest Editorial: Ethics and Privacy in Learning Analytics

Rebecca Ferguson
Tore Hoel
Maren Scheffel
Hendrik Drachsler


The European Learning Analytics Community Exchange (LACE) project is responsible for an ongoing series of workshops on ethics and privacy in learning analytics (EP4LA), which have been responsible for driving and transforming activity in these areas. Some of this activity has been brought together with other work in the papers that make up this special issue. These papers cover the creation and development of ethical frameworks, as well as tools and approaches that can be used to address issues of ethics and privacy. This editorial suggests that it is worth taking time to consider the often intertangled issues of ethics, data protection and privacy separately. The challenges mentioned within the special issue are summarised in a table of 22 challenges that are used to identify the values that underpin work in this area. Nine ethical goals are suggested as the editors’ interpretation of the unstated values that lie behind the challenges raised in this paper.


Data protection; ethics; LACE; privacy; values

Full Text:



Campbell, J.P. (2007). Utilizing Student Data within the Course Management System to Determine Undergraduate Student Academic Success: An Exploratory Study. PhD, Purdue University. Retrieved from (UMI No 3287222).

Drachsler, H. & Greller, W. (2016). Privacy and Analytics – it’s a DELICATE issue. A Checklist to establish trusted Learning Analytics. 6th Learning Analytics and Knowledge Conference 2016, April 25-29, 2016, Edinburgh, UK.

Engelfriet, E., Jeunink, E., Maderveld, J. (2015). Handreiking Learning analytics onder de Wet bescherming persoonsgegevens. SURF report.

Ferguson, R. (2012). Learning analytics: drivers, developments and challenges. International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning (IJTEL), 4(5/6), 304-317.

Griffiths, D., Brasher, A., Clow, D., Ferguson, R. & Yuan, L. (2016). Visions of the Future: Horizon Report. LACE, Bolton, UK. Retrieved from

Greller, W., & Drachsler, H. (2012). Translating Learning into Numbers: A Generic Framework for Learning Analytics. Educational Technology & Society, 15(3), 42–57.

Hoel, T. & Chen, W. (2016). Privacy-driven design of learning analytics applications – exploring the design space of solutions for data sharing and interoperability Journal of Learning Analytics, 3(1).

Kay, D., Kom, N. & Oppenheim, C. (2012). Legal, Risk and Ethical Aspects of Analytics in Higher Education. JISC CETIS, Bolton. Retrieved from

Murray, P.M. (1990). The history of informed consent. The Iowa Orthopaedic Journal, 10, 104-109.

Pardo, A. & Siemens, G. (2014). Ethical and privacy principles for learning analytics. British Journal of Educational Technology, 45(3), 438-450.

Rodríguez-Triana, M.J., Martínez-Monés, A. & Villagrá-Sobrino, S. (2016). Learning analytics in small-scale teacher-led innovations: ethical and data privacy issues. Journal of Learning Analytics, 3(1).

Sclater, N. (2016). Developing a Code of Practice for learning analytics. Journal of Learning Analytics, 3(1).

Sclater, N. & Bailey, P. (2015). Code of Practice for Learning Analytics. Jisc. Retrieved from

Slade, S., & Prinsloo, P. (2013). Learning analytics ethical issues and dilemmas. American Behavioral Scientist, 57(10), 1510-1529.

Slade, S. & Prinsloo, P. (2014). Student perspectives on the use of their data: between intrusion, surveillance and care. Proceedings of European Distance and E-learning Network Research Workshop, 27-28 Oct, Oxford, UK.

Willis, J.E., Pistilli, M.D. & Campbell, J.P. (2013). Ethics, big data, and analytics: a model for application. Educause Review Online.



  • There are currently no refbacks.