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Student Voices: digital redlining and privacy

Session 4
Chris Gilliard, Bill Fitzgerald, Hugh Culik — Macomb Community College, Common Sense Media

Faced with institutional policies that limit information access, rudimentary technology, and an advising program that restricted intellectual experimentation, students at Macomb Community College profiled the practices that invisibly reduce their choices. They began with readings on privacy, security, algorithms, digital identity to discover how these processes work. This established a thorough understanding of digital redlining, and their work exposed interesting facts: a profile of students who attend community colleges, a comparison of community college policies to “regular” university policies, and the biases of “success” programs. These issues constitute “digital redlining,” and they continually revealed the role of surveillance in education, and emphasized the importance of privacy.

But students and their instructors went beyond discovering the threats to their privacy that are built into “edtech.” With help during a two-day visit from Bill Fitzgerald who directs the Privacy Initiative at Common Sense Media, the students created – and applied – a list of readings, online tools, and concepts useful to assessing the privacy practices that affect their lives.

This Educon Conversation will begin with a brief summary of the collaboration between students, instructors, and a large non-profit organization, and then in short summaries of their work, students will set out a key issue that has affected them. Each student will identify how these issues are affected by institutional type: high school, community college, and university. These student preludes to discussion will lead into demonstrations of privacy tools, and a “what-I-did-for-wifi” conversation to surface the presence digital redlining in education.

Conversational Practice

Goal: to improve both the identification of places where digital redlining occurs and its connection to types of education. Special attention to privacy and surveillance.

The discussion begins with a summary of the questions that brought together a community college, a large non-profit devoted educational technology, and two instructors. Each of the student participants presents her/his work on a facet of digital redlining in order to set a framework for further developing a set of privacy tools that can be applied to educational institutions.

To facilitate the conversation, participants are asked to have read the following: 1. “Digital Redlining, and Privacy” (https://www.commonsense.org/education/privacy/blog/digital-redlining-access-privacy) 2. Powerpoint explaining digital redlining: http://re-think.us/Lightning%20talk%20final.pptx

Conversation starter: “whatidid4wifi”: participants describe the oddest thing they’ve had to do to obtain a wifi connection … and what the stakes were that made access so important.

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