Six Practical Recommendations Enabling Ethical Use of Predictive Learning Analytics in Distance Education
Keywords:learning analytics, practical ethics, learning analytics dashboards, case study, research paper
The progressive move of higher education institutions (HEIs) towards blended and online environments, accelerated by COVID-19, and their access to a greater variety of student data has heightened the need for ethical learning analytics (LA). This need is particularly salient in light of a lack of comprehensive, evidence-based guidelines on ethics that address gaps voiced in LA ethics research. Studies on the topic are predominantly conceptual, representing mainly institutional rather than stakeholder views, with some areas of ethics remaining underexplored. In this paper, we address this need by using a case of four years of interdisciplinary research in developing the award-winning Early Alerts Indicators (EAI) dashboard at a distance learning university. Through a lens focused on ethical considerations and informed by the practical approach to ethics, we conducted a case study review, using 10 relevant publications that report on the development and implementation of the tool. Our six practical recommendations on how to ethically engage with LA can inform an ethical development of LA that not only protects student privacy, but also ensures that LA tools are used in ways that effectively support student learning and development.
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