Data Activism in higher education, a scholarly commitment
This deliverable is part of the Open Educational Resource generated under the project "Understanding Data: Politics & Praxis" https://datapraxis.net/
In this module we will explore the concepts of readability, agency and negotiability applied to learning analytics. We will learn how datafication in the field of educational platforms affects university teachers and their work. We will finish this journey by suggesting that the technological advances that lead to the use of data-driven techniques cannot be passively experienced by teachers. Rather, they must be continuously active in pushing for the readability of data infrastructures and participating in the negotiation processes related to the oversight and privacy of students and of the teachers themselves. University teachers' ultimate goal is to be involved and committed, to play an active role, i.e., to have "agency" with respect to data technologies and infrastructures, in a journey that is made at the same time as the technology is developed, rather than passively accepting it after the event. This is why we will speak of "data activism". As learning analytics become more popular and some experimental and commercial applications are rolled out, university teachers need to pay attention to how technologies become part of their educational experiences and what values and imaginaries are assigned to data in teaching and learning. Specifically, it is necessary to consider the economic interests and the desire to control behaviour underlying many of the technological solutions put forward as a panacea producing information that makes teaching better, easier or more accurately targeted. Thus, our journey will start from the exploration of the concept and applications of learning analytics and its objective of supporting more effective behavioural patterns in teachers and students. Going beyond the techno-solutionism that has frequently permeated discourses and research on learning analytics, we will focus on critical literature concerning the use of educational data and, in particular, the associated ethical concerns. In order to find a balance between techno-enthusiasm and techno-disillusionment, we will look at cases that examine data in education from complex, interdisciplinary and participatory perspectives. Finally, we will consider the value of data activism in education, as a mindset and attitude that implies a critical and transformative perspective towards the evolving techno-structure, requiring agency, negotiability and readability as the means to build fair data cultures in higher education and in society.