Users or Students? Privacy in University MOOCs

Science & Engineering Ethics, Forthcoming

38 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2016

See all articles by Meg Leta Jones

Meg Leta Jones

Georgetown University - Communication, Culture, and Technology

Lucas Regner

American University

Date Written: August 10, 2015

Abstract

Two terms, student privacy and Massive Open Online Courses, have received a significant amount of attention recently. Both represent interesting sites of change in entrenched structures, one educational and one legal. MOOCs represent something college courses have never been able to provide: universal access. Universities not wanting to miss the MOOC wave have started to build MOOC courses and integrate them into the university system in various ways. However, the design and scale of university MOOCs create tension for privacy laws intended to regulate information practices exercised by educational institutions. Are MOOCs part of the educational institutions these laws and policies aim to regulate? Are MOOC users students whose data are protected by aforementioned laws and policies? Many university researchers and faculty members are asked to participate as designers and instructors in MOOCs but may not know how to approach the issues proposed. While recent scholarship has addressed the disruptive nature of MOOCs, student privacy generally, and data privacy in the K-12 system, we provide an in depth description and analysis of the MOOC phenomenon and the privacy laws and policies that guide and regulate educational institutions today. We offer privacy case studies of three major MOOC providers active in the market today to reveal inconsistencies among MOOC platform and the level and type of legal uncertainty surrounding them. Finally, we provide a list of organizational questions to pose internally to navigate the uncertainty presented to university MOOC teams.

Keywords: Privacy, University research, Technology policy, Higher education, Education law

Suggested Citation

Jones, Meg and Regner, Lucas, Users or Students? Privacy in University MOOCs (August 10, 2015). Science & Engineering Ethics, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2746249

Meg Jones (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - Communication, Culture, and Technology ( email )

3520 Prospect St NW
Suite 311
Washington, DC 20057
United States

Lucas Regner

American University ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

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