An ethical approach to Big Data for a holistic education and a positive role within the society (objectivity, efficiency, and humanisation)

Everybody knows that an amazing amount of data is continuously collected since our beginning of the digital age. Now the question is how we can harness all this information to help meet the challenges facing our societies in this century, while particularly addressing concerns about the ethical issues this raises. Across the globe companies, organizations and institution are hardly competing to exploit the potential of this Big Data. Everywhere, companies are developing methods for mining and modeling these increasing amounts of data becoming available about people.

If you watch or listen to what is happening around you, you will understand that people are too much excited about the potential of big data because of the prospect of working on large amounts of previously unreachable user data in any field, mainly for business purpose and sometimes for much more enigmatic reasons.

What about education benefits? Big Data in education is a more and more hot topic. People are looking its potential for reform, others are concerned about privacy, and some don’t see why spending money for it. For sure, Big Data is deeply revolutionising education. Why? Just because we all know that education is more and more occurring online or in educational software, resulting in an explosion of data that can be used to improve educational effectiveness. So, Big Data should really help to deliver an education system that enables to realise the full potential of people.

Some people say Big Data can unlock the door to a more personalised learning experience which will motivate young people to study and better equip them for life beyond the classroom. With Big Data, teachers can analyse students and their work patterns in order to pinpoint where teaching can be personalized and optimized. Big Data can capture usage data and social signals in order to develop user profiles and enable teachers to deliver personalised learning. So, Big Data will drive to data-driven classrooms, the concept of digitally collecting and analyzing students' work, tracking and reporting performance.

But people also say this could help to ensure countries have workforces with the skills required to succeed in today’s highly competitive globalised economy. But why only in order to compete economically? Why this huge opportunity would it only be for schools? Why only for young people? This big data could it not be exploited to continuously train individuals able to better understand their environment and the human - individuals who can play a positive role in society? We must go beyond the simple acquisition of knowledge.

In our lives today, algorithms are analyzing our behaviour (both on and offline and all the time). They shape what we do in the moment, and they often steer us toward what we do next. But where is the ethics in that?

A Big Data dedicated to education would have problems to overcome with the classic approach people have.

This requires concerted action by all those involved (from policy-makers and educators, to researchers, students and the private sector) working together closely to find effective solutions to unlock such enormous potential and work on ethical issues. Collaboration, communication and transparency are essential between all stakeholders.

But Big Data is too big to analyse using conventional techniques or using relational database management. Most current definitions of Big Data emphasise volume, velocity (real-time information), and variety. Data of this kind requires many specialists processing platforms to analyze it.

It seems that, no country in the world will be able to capitalise fully on this potential without taking action to address a wide range of issues. Skills must be acquired to harness the power of big data; technologies and infrastructure developed to collect, store, share and analyse it; and policies agreed to address concerns surrounding privacy and security, and the potentially dehumanising impact of big data on education. Both the legal and ethical questions posed by the use of big data are still not answered.

The method and objectives of EL4DEV are different. In this sense, EL4DEV offers an alternative approach of Big Data.

EL4DEV is a resourceful and adaptable framework for self-learning which knowledge is provided by the real-time experience of each of us, all over the world. For many people it may sounds like utopia. The role of EL4DEV is to initiate an intelligent, collective and collaborative process of investigation that is an exchange between all individuals, rather than simple speeches or a mere transmission of knowledge.

We are in a different approach of education. The sum of knowledge acquired from day-to-day experiences anywhere in the planet is immediately modeled thanks to algorithms and available to all the people. So your own experience serves the collective. People immediately implement this knowledge within the society to rewrite the existing socio-economic and behavioural models and meet the various local issues. The system also analyses all the consequences of interaction of people and the actions performed. Thus, it is able to establish predictive scenarios based on the actions performed in real time.

So, here is the teaching method and content EL4DEV provides. This teaching is accessible to everybody, at any age, in any country and has pretensions to an intelligent and ethical management of world affairs as well as better relations between individuals. EL4DEV is a powerful process of analysing, modelling and sharing the collective experience in order to raise awareness and motivate any people. EL4DEV is a powerful process of bringing back dignity to every individual so as to change him in agent of positive change.

Everyone aspires to play a positive role in society. With EL4DEV, your behaviour can finally help change the world. These actions are within the reach of any individual on the planet regardless of its socio-cultural environment, education background and gender. That is why we talk here of Big Data.

EL4DEV meets the challenges on the possible dehumanisation of education and addresses concerns surrounding privacy of data. Data of this kind do not require other processing platforms to analyze it. This huge opportunity of Big Data is not only for schools and students since EL4DEV is an open learning framework. This big data is aimed to be exploited continuously only to train individuals able to better understand their environment and the human. Here, we talk about ethical Big Data.

It is possible now that you participate in this initiative out of the ordinary. Support research and development of the EL4DEV program and get your contributor’s customized space within our Strategic Deployment Tool.