Big Data, Little Ethics

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1 Response

  1. Jared Stein says:

    Hi Kyle, I’m from Canvas, and worked with the Product team on the Canvas Skill for Alexa. (I also replied on our Community, but figured I can address some of the questions here).

    I totally appreciate your perspective and input here. I think even if we don’t agree on what capabilities the Alexa Skill should provide, or whether Instructure should work with Alexa at all, I think we do agree on the principles. With that in mind, I can state that we absolutely thought about and wrestled with user privacy and data security concerns. Our aim with the Alexa Skill is to provide a new, convenient interface for students to be more informed and connected with their courses. We only want to do that if we can be sufficiently confident that we are not putting users in a situation where they can’t control their data or their risk.

    A few quick answers:

    * Even though it did originate as a Hack Week project (not during the InstructureCon Hacknight), the Canvas Skill for Alexa was in fact product managed by a Canvas product manager well beyond the Hack Week, and we did have very direct conversations with the Alexa team around data privacy, FERPA, etc.

    * I also agree that we can do better about informing students of what happens with data. Even if we believe it to both legal and ethical, yes, students should be well-informed. We can (and will) also continue to find ways to help students control their own data. We have a couple of ideas that I mentioned in my Community post.

    *The faculty capabilities are deliberately more limited specifically because we judged some privacy-related issues at greater risk when faculty use the Skill.

    Thank you for your deep thinking on this subject. Happy to talk about this more person-to-person if you like. We know that this kind of new technology presents new challenges, and so we have and will continue to weigh the benefits vs risks in these kinds of decisions.

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