Chapter 4

Handbook of Learning Analytics
First Edition

Ethics and Learning Analytics: Charting the (Un)Charted

Paul Prinsloo & Sharon Slade


As the field of learning analytics matures, and discourses surrounding the scope, definition, challenges, and opportunities of learning analytics become more nuanced, there is benefit both in reviewing how far we have come in considering associated ethical issues and in looking ahead. This chapter provides an overview of how our own thinking has developed and maps our journey against broader developments in the field. Against a backdrop of technological advances and increasing concerns around pervasive surveillance and the role and unintended consequences of algorithms, the development of research in learning analytics as an ethical and moral practice provides a rich picture of fears and realities. More importantly, we begin to see ethics and privacy as crucial enablers within learning analytics. The chapter briefly locates ethics in learning analytics in the broader context of the forces shaping higher education and the roles of data and evidence before tracking our personal research journey, highlighting current work in the field, and concluding by mapping future issues for consideration.

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