In early December, higher-education policy professionals and academics gathered at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center in Washington, D.C. for a half-day symposium on challenges raised by new approaches and emerging data-driven platforms in higher education. The discussion, “Building Privacy into Data-Driven Education,” was part of the @Microsoft series and was held in partnership with the Information Law Institute at NYU.
Microsoft’s Senior Policy Counsel Greg McCurdy and NYU Information Law Institute’s Elana Zeide gave welcoming remarks. Kathleen Styles, chief privacy officer for the U.S. Department of Education, said in a keynote address that the debate over student data privacy in higher education should not become politicized in order to have fact-based conversations.
One panel explored data-driven education and learning analytics, with an emphasis on the promise and challenges surrounding the integration of third and independent parties. Panelists included Justin Reich of Harvard University and Dr. Vivek Goel of Coursera. Allyson Knox, Microsoft’s Director of Education Policy and Programs, served as moderator.
A second panel discussed ethical, legal and institutional issues regarding these emerging trends. Panelists included Khaliah Barnes of the EPIC Student Privacy Project and Helen Nissenbaum of NYU. Elana Zeide moderated the second panel. The panel discussions were followed by a conversation with the audience on the future of technology and policy.
The symposium style of the event enabled an in-depth discussion on the nuances of student privacy with an engaged audience. Among the questions discussed: Should students be considered “products”? Where does privacy fit in the discussion? What is the role of third-party and independent education providers like learning management systems, tutoring programs, and Massive Open Online Courses?
The event highlighted Microsoft’s strong commitment to protecting the privacy and security of customer information among higher-education influencers. It came on the heels of Microsoft’s support for the student privacy pledge led by congressmen Jared Polis (D-Colorado) and Luke Messer (R-Indiana) in October.
Each month, the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center in Washington, D.C. hosts the @Microsoft series, featuring panel discussions with members of Congress, administration officials and leading experts on a wide range of topics. The events are free, open to the public and present an opportunity to engage in policy debates with thought leaders at the highest levels of government. To learn more about this and other events, please follow @MicrosoftIPC on Twitter, or visit the Innovation & Policy Center’s Facebook page.