ViziBLUE, which debuted in January 2021, is a campuswide initiative, developed with the help of student interns, panel discussions and focus groups. The first version covers student data, and a staff and faculty version also is planned, Pendse says.
“This interface is going to continue to evolve because more and more new data is going to come in, and other data might get deprecated,” he says.
Transparency is essential because unless students understand how institutions use their data, it’s difficult to trust their stewardship, says Kathe Pelletier, director of the Teaching and Learning Program at EDUCAUSE.
“Increasing transparency around the use of student data can address this lack of understanding, trust and confidence,” she says. “Institutions can inform students about what data is being collected from them and how that data is being stored, used and protected; allow students to update their own data on demand; and provide students with the option to opt out of sharing at any time.”
The Shifting Higher Ed Privacy Landscape
At 62 percent of institutions, privacy efforts are directed by a dedicated office or chief privacy officer. The remainder place privacy under the responsibility of CISOs or similar roles, according to research from EDUCAUSE. Regardless of structure, however, the pandemic brought new pressures to bear on everyone.
“The pandemic escalated conversations about privacy, and we needed to evaluate those and provide guidance to our colleagues at a faster pace,” says Ann Nagel, the university privacy officer and associate vice provost of privacy at the University of Washington.
Remote learning via videoconferencing raised questions about recordings, sensitive discussions and vendors’ regulatory compliance. Online proctoring has encountered resistance among students and privacy advocates. Campus reopenings introduced new debates about symptom trackers, testing programs and contact tracing.
The University of Pennsylvania’s Office of Audit, Compliance and Privacy “was definitely playing an integral role in terms of making sure we balanced personal privacy and keeping the Penn community safe,” says Scott Schafer, the university privacy and institutional compliance officer at Penn.