The AVT project – Aktivitetsdata for vurdering og tilpassing (Activity data for assessment and adaptation) – is a research and development project focused on digital learning analytics in schools. The project explores opportunities and challenges associated with the use of learning analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse pupil activity data from various digital teaching aids.
Through participation in the sandbox, the AVT project seeks to explore the legal framework, in addition to frameworks for responsibility and ethics, for the use of learning analytics in schools. The overall goal is to pave the way for adapted education for each individual pupil, while also protecting the pupil’s privacy. The sandbox project has been split into three sub-objectives, where we have explored the legal basis, protection of the pupil’s privacy through a data protection impact assessment, and transparency.
- Legal basis: The views of the Data Protection Authority and the AVT project differ in terms of the choice of legal basis and of whether the supplementary basis is adequate. The AVT project believe the processing is in response to a “legal obligation” and points to the supplementary basis in education legislation to support this conclusion. The Data Protection Authority finds that “in the public interest” is the most appropriate basis for the processing, and that the supplementary basis ought to be stronger than it currently is. The Authority, however, does not rule out that “legal obligation” may be used.
- Impact on pupil privacy: Through dialogue with stakeholders, all representing groups who, in various ways, would be affected by the learning analytics system, three main risks to pupil privacy were identified. These are the risk of altered behaviour (cool-down effect), the risk of incorrect personal data in the system, and the risk of the technology causing the pupils unwanted stress. In addition, we highlighted three other potential risks, namely risks associated with special categories of personal data, the processing of third-party data, and where to
- Transparency: One challenge in the AVT project is the considerable range in ages and level of development in the group that will be using the learning analytics syste In the sandbox, we discussed how linguistic and visual tools can be used to provide information that is simple enough for the youngest pupils, while also meeting the information needs of older pupils and parents. Among other things, the AVT project has considered building a “dummy” version of the learning analytics system, which allows users to experiment with different variables. This type of visualisation is often quite effective at explaining advanced technology in a straightforward manner.
The Ministry of Education is currently working on a new education act, which will not be ready until 2023, at the earliest. The education sector, therefore, currently has a unique opportunity to clarify how schools can contribute to the development of educational AI tools.
The sandbox project is completed, but the exploration of artificial intelligence in schools has only just begun. The AVT project is blazing the trail in a field that will only become more important in the future. The project’s contributions in the sandbox have shed light on an area the Data Protection Authority does not have previous experience with. The opportunities are endless, and the importance of a sober, ethical approach could not be clearer. The AVT project has taken its responsibilities seriously and is now likely to build the foundation for a better education of our children in the time to come.