A quick look back at user’s perception in E-learning security and privacy Issues

Researchers have proven with both theoretical and empirical studies that technologies could enhance learning. Meanwhile, technologies could also create barriers to the latter. Particularly, when the use of technologies causes security and privacy concerns, E-learning becomes less fruitful as the participants are too afraid to be exposed by what has been provided to help them learn in the first place.

I dedicated a section in my PhD thesis (cf. Chapter 1) to a study on user’s perception in using E-learning technologies and the relevant issues. What I had in mind back then was to raise the awareness of security and privacy issues, which are often overlooked in the research efforts that implicate user tracking and personal data usage for instructional purposes.

Within the past ten years, we witness a strong growth of research efforts which aim at developing technologies that better support user participation and interactivity while others attempt to provide new technological approaches, such as “user tracking”, to make online learning and teaching easier and more efficient in terms of student monitoring and evaluation.

Using tracking systems has been done in numerous ways in E-learning in accordance with the technological progress being made. In the meantime, it has increased security and privacy problems, which lead to a situation where security and privacy protection are becoming essential for the users. This paper gives a quick look at how students see the way their personal data being exploited and our point of view on that matter.

Read more after the break…

To get the better of privacy concerns is not only about using technological solutions to keep users safe from any threats, but also about “trust”. Trust is a crucial enabler for meaningful and mutually beneficial interactions that build and sustain learner collaboration and community. As yet, privacy is a natural concern at the same time that trust is an important factor in learning environment because in practice, privacy and trust are circularly related. In reality, in a closed learning environment, where all learning services are provided internally (e.g. from a university or a trusted source) students can have higher confidence that their personal data will be treated properly. On the other hand, in an open learning environment with unknown providers such as private or external learning service providers, privacy concerns are higher and the trust level of learners will be influenced by the level of perceived privacy offered by those providers.

From a technological perspective, the solution to the security and privacy issues is still heavily reliant on technological approaches. From a researcher in E-learning perspective, what is important is the fact that student’s personal data benefit from any type of exposure in any circumstance. Nevertheless, a compromise between tracking students and protecting their privacy is still needed. For example, allowing students to anonymously access to their learning environments for a privacy reason is feasible from a technological standpoint, but somehow limited from the fact that a learning application aims at assisting students and so they cannot act in full anonymity.

My research interest in data security has grown a bit stronger and I’m looking forward to study more about juridical and ethical issues related to using personal data for educational purposes.

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