Remember that post a couple weeks ago talking about how you’re responsible for the data of your friends and folks? Welp, some new research published this month provides some compelling findings.
Location, location, location!
When it comes to location data, even if you’ve turned off all location tracking on your own devices, our internet overlords can predict your movement through data mining. Whether using data from people you are socially tied to (95% accuracy) or data from strangers (85% accuracy), the researchers found significant information about your movement is available.
Data mining is the practice of searching through large amounts of computerized data to find useful patterns or trends.
When reading that definition, you might wonder about the word “useful.” Collecting and mining location data isn’t always nefarious. It has helped many during this Covidian Era by tracking how the virus moves across the globe. You’ve probably benefited by getting a local restaurant recommendation or seeing how many miles you walked this week. As an educator, you often work with Educational Data Mining (EDM) through standardized tests, student information systems, and edtech tools. But, when the end goal is selling us products, luring our attention, surveillance, and worse, we need protection.
You can help
Keeping up with big tech and big data is overwhelming. Talking about data with people who aren’t your colleagues might be unfamiliar. Students are impacted by data mining, but they rarely get to discuss it. We must make the invisible structures and technology around us a regular topic of consideration. With that goal in mind, there’s great news:
- You’re an educator.
- You have people who trust you.
- Your sphere of influence is larger than you think.
- You are skilled at making nebulous concepts feel concrete.
- You know how to pique curiosity and hook people into conversations.
- These are conversations you are capable of having, even if you aren’t a tech expert or up to date on all the tech news.
How could you open a conversation about data collection and mining?
- What do students know about their data (in school and out)? Do they understand why it’s collected, how it’s used, and what decisions are made based on the mined data?
- What kind of data do you think is being collected about you? How is it being gathered?
- Ask students to share how they use location data (e.g. tracking on their phone that guardians can see, to find friends)?
- Why might a school use data mining? How about Facebook? And a retail company?
- Take a peek at this Data mining for kids entry over at Kiddle.
This research came out of the University of Rochester You can read more in the journal Nature Communications, where it is available to you under a CC Attribution License (so you can use it!). Did we make sure this research was peer-reviewed? Of course we did!
MERRIAM-WEBSTER. (N.D.). DATA MINING. IN MERRIAM-WEBSTER.COM DICTIONARY. RETRIEVED APRIL 21, 2022, FROM HTTPS://WWW.MERRIAM-WEBSTER.COM/DICTIONARY/DATA%20MINING
ISTE Standards for Educators
Learner 2.1.d. Stay current with research that supports improved student learning outcomes, including findings from the learning sciences.
Citizen 2.3.d. Model and promote management of personal data and digital identity to protect student data privacy.