Schools Training

‘Big data’ could create ‘dystopian future’ for students

31 DEC 2013
Topic : Education News

Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, professor of internet governance and regulation at the University of Oxford’s Oxford Internet Institute, said there was danger of creating a dystopian future comparable to science fiction films like Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report.

In that film data is used by the state to sentence people for crimes they have yet to commit. The danger was that data could be used to tell students what subject they should specialise in before they started their degree, Professor Mayer-Schönberger said.

“There has been much debate over last 30 years about streaming and tracking students from elementary school, and putting them on a particular track based on their successes and failures in particular standardised tests,” he told Times Higher Education, adding that this approach was particularly prevalent in the US.

“These tests only capture a pupil’s performance at a point in time. It doesn’t capture change over time – it s just a snapshot. We are already using this small data to make predications about educational attainment and ability and make decisions based on that.”

However, as more complex and detailed “big data” sets are collected, Professor Mayer-Schönberger is concerned that the ability of students to determine courses that they take will be lessened.

Read full article: Times Higher Education