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Jisc produces code of practice for data analytics in student wellbeing

24/07/20

Mark Say Managing Editor

Jisc has developed a code of practice for the use of data analytics in supporting the wellbeing and mental health of students.

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The not-for-profit provider of digital and tech services for higher education has developed the code as one of the first projects to emerge from the ‘regulatory sandbox’ created by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The project has been aimed at helping universities and colleges to ensure they use data in a way that does not create risks for students or staff. This comes with the recognition that it can be used for applications such as providing screen-break reminders to alerts when a student appears to be at risk of suicide.

Jisc took its code of practice for learning analytics as a starting point, turning the focus onto the use of data in support for wellbeing and mental health.

It includes practical tools for data protection impact assessments and compatibility assessments for different data sources, along with sections on responsibility, transparency and consent, privacy, validity, access, positive interventions and stewardship.

Stronger controls

“Where wellbeing or mental health information is derived from existing learning analytics processes, the stronger controls in this code should be used from the point where the wellbeing/health purpose separates from the learning analytics one,” Jisc says in the introduction to the code.

“In other words, where the aim becomes to identify potential health issues rather than academic ones.”

The project is one of just two to emerge so far from the first 10 chosen for development in the ICO sandbox. The other has been Heathrow Airport’s programme to streamline passenger journeys through the use of biometrics – which has been rated as beneficial to all parties.

The ICO said that work on the other eight projects has been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. It has agreed on extensions for some and said other are now nearing their end.

Image from iStock, Alex Linch

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