Dr Ben Williamson (EFI)
Dr Jen Ross (Education)
The controversy: Practices of tracking, monitoring and analysing student work and activity have the effect of reducing levels of trust between students, teachers and administrators in higher education settings.
Summary of talk:
In higher education, instrumental goals such as quality and efficiency are often addressed through high-level technology decisions which need to be understood in terms of visibility and surveillance. This talk considers technologically-mediated practices of plagiarism detection and engagement monitoring in the context of surveillance and distrust. Logics of surveillance are at work in practices which attempt to regulate student behaviour through subjecting bodies, as well as writing and other online activities, to algorithmic scanning and monitoring. These logics frame students as in need of careful monitoring to ensure learning and teaching runs smoothly, and they have an impact on relationships among teachers, students and institutions. Drawing on Lyon’s concept of ‘surveillance culture’ (2017), I’ll discuss how teachers, students and university leaders participate in, respond to, resist and rework their own and others’ surveillance. Critiquing the idea that monitoring technologies can be used benevolently (for example, by guiding students gently towards ‘good academic practice’, or by helping teachers to watch over their students), I’ll suggest that these technologies act with and on already problematic conditions of digital visibility in the university.
Collier, A. and Ross, J. (2020). Higher education after surveillance? Commentary, Postdigital Science and Education. Online First.
Lyon, D. (2017) ‘Surveillance Culture: Engagement, Exposure, and Ethics in Digital Modernity’, International Journal of Communication, 11(0), p. 19.
Ross, J. and Macleod, H. (2018). Surveillance, (dis)trust and teaching with plagiarism detection technology. Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Networked Learning 2018, Edited by: Bajić, M, Dohn, NB, de Laat, M, Jandrić, P & Ryberg, T. ISBN 978-1-86220-337-2. http://www.networkedlearningconference.org.uk/abstracts/ross.html
Slade, S. and Prinsloo, P. (2013) Learning Analytics: ethical issues and dilemmas. American Behavioral Scientist, 57(10): 1510-1529.
Dr James Stewart (STIS)About this series
This series of research-led seminars will provide insights from leading researchers across the University of Edinburgh, addressing issues that will shape future ‘data-led’ innovation, a key strategic theme of the new Edinburgh Futures Institute, the Usher Institute and the Bayes Institute. Each seminar will include two talks, and provide time for discussion. The series will can be followed by postgraduate students for credit, and student participants will work to map the issues and relationships between identified in the seminars, and future directions for research and policy activities.
Please contact Dr James Stewart with any queries J.K.Stewart@ed.ac.uk.