Governing the ‘Datafied’ School: Bridging the Divergence between Universal Education and Student Autonomy

Paper by Theresa Henne and Oskar Josef Gstrein: “Students and teachers find themselves increasingly surrounded by Big Data and AI technologies that facilitate the learning process and the organisation of school life. Accordingly, vast amounts of data are being collected on the working of the entire school community. This trend–referred to as the ‘datafication’ of education–was pushed immensely during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, already before the necessity to quickly find digital solutions for remote teaching and learning, many scholars were concerned about the privacy and autonomy of the ‘datafied’ student and the corresponding larger effects on public education and democracy as such. In this chapter, we approach the datafication of school education through the lens of data protection and autonomy. We point to the inadequacies in the European data protection framework, which is considered as the state of the art by many. In search of other capable legal concepts, we explore the German ‘right to informational self-determination’, which introduces the distinct argument that restricting data flows is a necessity for the free personal development of the individual–a notion relevant for the tumbling, ever evolving minds of children and teenagers. We find that the fuzzy realities of school life demand a nuanced governance approach that balances individual control and privacy protection with the interests, needs and visions of the school community…(More)”.