Handbook of Learning Analytics

Chapter 4

Handbook of Learning Analytics
First Edition

Ethics and Learning Analytics: Charting the (Un)Charted

Paul Prinsloo & Sharon Slade


As the field of learning analytics matures, and discourses surrounding the scope, definition, challenges, and opportunities of learning analytics become more nuanced, there is benefit both in reviewing how far we have come in considering associated ethical issues and in looking ahead. This chapter provides an overview of how our own thinking has developed and maps our journey against broader developments in the field. Against a backdrop of technological advances and increasing concerns around pervasive surveillance and the role and unintended consequences of algorithms, the development of research in learning analytics as an ethical and moral practice provides a rich picture of fears and realities. More importantly, we begin to see ethics and privacy as crucial enablers within learning analytics. The chapter briefly locates ethics in learning analytics in the broader context of the forces shaping higher education and the roles of data and evidence before tracking our personal research journey, highlighting current work in the field, and concluding by mapping future issues for consideration.

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About this Chapter

Ethics and Learning Analytics: Charting the (Un)Charted

Book Title
Handbook of Learning Analytics

pp. 49-57




Society for Learning Analytics Research

Paul Prinsloo1
Sharon Slade2

Author Affiliations
1. Department of Business Management, University of South Africa, South Africa
2. Faculty of Business and Law, The Open University, United Kingdom

Charles Lang3
George Siemens4
Alyssa Wise5
Dragan Gašević6

Editor Affiliations
3. Teachers College, Columbia University, USA
4. LINK Research Lab, University of Texas at Arlington, USA
5. Learning Analytics Research Network, New York University, USA
6. Schools of Education and Informatics, University of Edinburgh, UK


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