Human Subjects Protection in the Digital Age

This project will convene a panel of experts in government, industry and academia to raise and discuss emerging concerns for human subjects' protections in the digital age. This project will support scholarly discussion on human subjects' protections in the digital age with implications for funding agencies, schools, and those who work with human subjects in a variety of environments.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1419055
Funding Period: 
March 15, 2014 to February 28, 2015
Full Description: 

This project will convene a panel of experts in government, industry and academia to raise and discuss emerging concerns for human subjects' protections in the digital age. Learners taking part in formal education, informal education, and out-of-school settings are subject to a ubiquitous tracking of their activities: locally, using the internet of things (e.g., smart phones, smart sensors and other cyberphysical devices), and globally, via the internet. This tracking may include data tracked passively (e.g., online purchases) or data made available on social media websites by the learners themselves. In addition, the use of the longitudinal data collected by local educational agencies for research is an increasingly political concern. Decisions about the use of these data by university researchers and scholars are typically made by Institutional Review Board (IRB) offices. New guidelines on IRB practices are being considered by a number of bodies, including the National Research Council, which issued a report in early 2014.

This project will support scholarly discussion on human subjects' protections in the digital age with implications for funding agencies, schools, and those who work with human subjects in a variety of environments. The issues discussed are of national import, including, but not limited to FERPA privacy concerns. To the extent that US researchers work with data from other countries (e.g., via massive open online courses or MOOCs), the impact of the reports that will be produced as part of this conference for education research is potentially global.

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