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The Gold Rush for Today's Most Valuable Resource in Education: Students' Data

Tuesday, May 2, 2023 - 9:00am to 10:15am
Spring 2023
Lemann Center Conference Room

Rodrigo Barbosa e Silva

The Gold Rush for Today's Most Valuable Resource in Education: Students' Data

After January 8th attacks, Brazilian society has become aware of the effects of ill-intentioned agents using social media and mass communication to force their political and social agenda. Recently, the Supreme Court (STF), National Congress, and the Executive Branch have been discussing a law to address platform regulation in Brazil. Inside people's minds are themes such as fake news, manipulation, and international controls over the destiny of political debate.

Platforms and data collection technologies permeate several spaces of today's social life. Strategies are well-known in Silicon Valley's venture capital world: 'onboarding users', reinforcing the 'network effect,' and 'engaging people for a better tomorrow.' Despite the ongoing criticism of those strategies in the business domain, in education, the role of the same method is yet to be appropriately understood by policymakers and educators. In exchange for using supposedly free big tech platforms in education, Brazilian educational authorities enable companies to collect data from students and educators without oversight and public control. This kind of payment also creates generations of new users for those platforms.

Rodrigo Barbosa e Silva will discuss his latest chapter, coauthored with Professor Paulo Blikstein, on data privacy and education. He will show how public education systems can use current legislation and checks and balances tools to defend students and educators against data collection and the pitfalls of a data-based business model. Rodrigo will highlight that technologies in education are not neutral, and educators must be aware of the social, moral, and ethical implications of their uses in schools. Silva & Blikstein's chapter influenced a legislative amendment foreseeing student data protection to the National Digital Education Act (14533/2023). Also, it generated a Legislative Indication for the Federal Executive branch to centralize the management of negotiations between public education systems and big tech companies.

"Students are the product": how "free" comes out expensive for public education systems that donate student data to big techs (“Estudantes são o produto”: como o “de graça” sai caro para as redes públicas de educação que doam os dados de alunos para as grandes plataformas de internet).
Rodrigo Barbosa e Silva, Paulo Blikstein. In  Technologies in Education: the construction of public policies (Tecnologias na Educação: Construção de Políticas Públicas). Brazilian National Congress - Legislative Branch (Congresso Nacional - Poder Legislativo). Book Chapter, p. 243 - 267. Portuguese.úblicas
Política Nacional de Educação Digital (Lei 14.533, 11 de Janeiro de 2023):