Using “big data” to help match people to courses could cut freedom of choice and ultimately put students off higher education, an expert has warned. Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, professor of internet governance and regulation at the University of Oxford’s Oxford Internet Institute, said there was danger of creating a dystopian future comparable to science fiction films like Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report. In that film data is used by the state to sentence people for crimes they have yet to commit. The danger was that data could be used to tell students what subject they should specialise in before they started their degree, Professor Mayer-Schönberger said. “There has been much debate over last 30 years about streaming and tracking students from elementary school, and putting them on a particular track based on their successes and failures in particular standardised tests,” he told Times Higher Education, adding that this approach was particularly prevalent in the US.
Jake New studied journalism at Indiana University, where he was editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, the Indiana Daily Student. At the IDS, Jake covered the IU administration, minority student issues, and state education policy. After a brief stint at the Bloomington Herald-Times covering IU, crime, and local politics, Jake interned at the Chronicle of Higher Education in Washington D.C, writing about online learning, open-access policies, academic publishing, and ed-tech startups. Jake joined eCampus News as an assistant editor in May 2013, where he continues to cover technology and higher education. His days often begin with a cup of coffee and the sinking feeling that another MOOC story is just around the corner. Follow Jake via Twitter: @eSN_Jake