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null Big Data about Students: A Code of Conduct for Universities?

The International Council for Distant Education ICDE held its annual 2017 ICDE Leadership Summit with over 100 top leaders and Presidents of Open Universities worldwide. The event was hosted by LORIA at Université de Lorraine, 22-23 May 2017 at Nancy, France. The theme of the conference was ‘Leadership: when transforming education through learning analytics and adaptive learning'.
Universities, especially distant learning open universities, collect large amounts of data about students' learning behaviours to analyse them, called ‘Learning analytics'.  Learning Analytics is part of a global trend of sophisticated tools to analyse the behaviour and performance of students, teachers and staff. It creates hopes to improve success rates and decrease dropouts, but also provokes fears concerning the control and potential abuse of the data.
During the Summit, Prof. Dr Christoph Stückelberger, President of, served as moderator in part of the plenary panel on ‘legal and ethical issues: do we need a global framework?', where he discussed the ethical and legal aspects of big data and proposed a global Code of Ethics. This panel brought together five professional experts from Africa and Europe. The panel agreed on a number of principles and values on handling students' data, such as the need for the students' participation and their right to know, correct and delete their data, including the concept the ‘right to be forgotten'. This is important to avoid the abuse of students' data which could affect their future careers. New French, European and Chinese legal frameworks for data protection were also presented. 
ICDE plans to establish a workgroup for drafting – in a participatory process – a Code of Ethics on dealing with Learning Analytics data. Dr Stückelberger was asked to be the Vice-Chair of the group. President Christoph Stückelberger (far right) with conference participants