“We don’t really have a way to tell if our school is keeping our privacy safe”: Students as data subjects

Year: 2021

Author: Pangrazio, Luci

Type of paper: Individual Paper

An array of subjectivities are created for students through the data that is generated at school. A great deal of this data is tied to the school’s learning management system (i.e. Compass) for attendance, assessment, reporting and so on. Yet if a teacher happens to be using commercial apps, like Class Dojo or Care Monkey, then their students are subject to the protocols and processes adopted by these platforms. In this way, if the personal data generated through that platform is traded via data brokers, then students unknowingly become subjects to new forms of power and control.The direct connection between what goes on in a classroom and the global data economy is an area of increasing concern. Traditionally, one might have expected that schools offer students a modicum of privacy to the commercial world. Yet once a user profile on a commercial app is created, students inevitably become subjects of economics and politics. Wendy Chun (2016) explains this neatly: ‘Internet users are curiously inside out – they are framed as private subjects exposed in public’ (p.12).This paper explores how student subjectivities are created through school-generated data. While there is a growing body of work exploring young people’s understandings of personal data beyond school (Livingstone, Stoilova, & Nandagiri, 2020; Pangrazio & Selwyn, 2018), less in known about young people’s understandings of school-generated data. Taking a lead from critical data studies, this paper reports findings from student interviews conducted in three Australian secondary schools. In particular, the paper focuses on students’ awareness of their profiles and school-based ‘data doubles’, as well as their capacity to influence and resist these processes of subjectification. The paper concludes by considering how students, teachers and researchers can be supported to test and challenge the assumptions of the datafied school.References:Chun, W. (2016). Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Livingstone, S., Stoilova, M., & Nandagiri, R. (2020). “I want to keep it to myself”: How well do children evade online datafication to protect their privacy? In AoIR2020: Selected Papers in Internet Research 2020: Association of Internet Researchers.Pangrazio, L., & Selwyn, N. (2018). ‘It's not like it's life or death or whatever’: Young people’s understandings of social media data Social Media + Society, 4(3), 1-9. doi:10.1177/2056305118787808