The largest global e-learning conference for the corporate, education and public service sectors is taking place in Berlin. It begun on the 3rd of this month and will end today. The provocative motion for debate is: ‘This House Believes that Data is Corrupting Education’.
On the evening of Thursday the panel discusses issues relating to Mass data collection, sharing and analysis affect everyone who uses technology. What does that mean for the way we learn? Is the focus on data corrupting education? Are we leaving enough space for creativity, imagination and the experience of the teacher? Should we just be glad that data can benefit teachers and students alike, helping to prevent learners from struggling unnoticed, picking the wrong classes and dropping out?
Opposing the motion is the world’s leading Internet experts, Prof Dr Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, and Dr George Siemens, co-inventor of the MOOC. Dr Mayer-Schönberger, author and Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University’s Internet Institute, said:
“We must harness data whilst making sure we remain its masters. We must carve out a space for the human – for our irrationality, our creativity, our imagination, for acting in defiance of what the data says.”
Arguing alongside him is Dr George Siemens, the Executive Director of the Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge Research Lab at University of Texas, Arlington. Technology, networks, analytics, and openness in education form the core of his research, though he is perhaps most widely known as the co-creator of the first ever MOOC (along with fellow OEB 2014 keynote, Stephen Downes.
Speaking for the motion will be Dr Ellen Wagner and Inge de Waard. Dr Wagner says that the term ‘data’ has become a meme. “Data-as-a-meme ends up standing for everything from loss of privacy, profiling and exclusionary practices, to personalization, student success and institutional efficiencies.
Also participating in the debate will be an audience of several hundred international education, technology and training experts. A vote will be taken at the end of the debate.