Minding the data: protecting learners’ privacy and security

A new UNESCO publication has been released: Protecting learners' privacy and security
The COVID-19 pandemic greatly accelerated the use of digital technologies in education. But beyond the emergency response, there is an international trend towards exploring how artificial intelligence and data-based analytics can support learning, learning assessments, and evidence-based policy planning processes.
"The use of data in education is a double-edged sword." On the one hand, they offer tremendous potential to create value by improving policies and programmes, driving transparent governance and better management of education systems, teachers’ empowerment, personalized learning experiences, assessment, and certification. On the other hand, data accumulation can lead to a concentration of economic and political power, raising the possibility that data may be misused in ways that harm learners.
This publication argues that a balance must be struck between the use of technology to advance educational transformation and the safeguarding of privacy and individual rights. Proper rules and protocols are needed to protect students and teachers not only in national policies but also at international level, where cooperation and collaborative efforts are also required to support policy learning, knowledge sharing and mutual understanding.
UNESCO launches through this publication a clarion call to the education community not only to pay careful attention to data privacy in education, but to take the lead in these developments.