—This contribution addresses a serious emergent
policy issue regarding student data privacy that has arisen in
the United States the last five years due to the increasingly
widespread use of cloud computing services in education and
the creation of large datasets–commonly known as ‘Big
Data’–collected by educational online (hosted) services.
Considerable confusion exists around the actual privacy
protections offered by laws such as FERPA, PPRA, and
COPPA in online environments, and in addition the actual use
and extent of the collection of data by hosted services is not
transparent. Large datasets have proven immensely valuable to
for-profit corporations, and schools generate large amounts of
information about students including state and
federally-mandated student records. Thus technology giants
such as Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft as well as
non-profit entities such as inBloom with strong links to
for-profit companies, have been competing to gain greater
access to student Big Data for the purposes of
commercialization. Using two cases studies (Google Apps for
Education and inBloom, Inc.), the author demonstrates that
new student privacy laws are required in the U.S., and the
author suggests the outlines of a federal statute.
—Cloud computing–education, big data,
educational datasets, student privacy, FERPA, PPRA, COPPA.
A. S. Weber is with the Premedical Department of the Weill Cornell
Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q), Box 24144, Education City, Doha,
State of Qatar (e-mail: email@example.com).
Cite: A. S. Weber, "The Big Student Big Data Grab," International Journal of Information and Education Technology vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 65-70, 2016.