Education and GAFAM: from awareness to responsibility
Keywords:COVID-19, e-learning, distance learning, learning management systems, virtual learning environments, GAFAM, personal data protection, UNIRE
Since the outburst of the COVID-19 pandemic, school and college remote teaching in Italy was based almost exclusively on the infrastructures and platforms developed by ‘big tech’ multinationals, such as Google (G-Suite for Education), Microsoft (Teams) and Zoom. This raises issues concerning student personal data protection that have been largely underestimated in the public discourse. In other countries, such as France, educational institutions have provided educational institutions with public and privacy-aware infrastructures based on free/libre software. Today the scholarly community has the responsibility to elaborate an analysis of what has happened during the emergency, to outline alternatives that the educational system can apply now, and to avoid the risk that bad practices that surfaced during the emergency enter the system and become permanent. On the other side, educational institutions (ministries, school boards, universities and their consortia) should take on the responsibility to build infrastructures that are public (or monitored by public authorities), based on free/libre software and respectful of personal data. This seems to be the intent of project UNIRE (Rete di interconnessione unica nazionale dell’istruzione) for Italian schools.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Paolo Monella
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