Why education is embracing Facebook-style personality profiling for schoolchildren


The Facebook/Cambridge Analytica debacle has certainly sent data theft and social engineering to the top of the agenda. Who'd have thought it?

This is an interesting and useful article by Ben Williamson from the University of Stirling on profiling children as captive audiences in schools, which is an unhealthy obsession of the Scot Govt in particular. While #DeleteFacebook is possible #DeleteDataTheftinSchools is more problematic as children are routinely forced or coerced to participate in classroom surveys and intrusive interrogations without consent.

Why education is embracing Facebook-style personality profiling for schoolchildren (The Conversation)

The collection and analysis of more personal information from schoolchildren will be a defining feature of education in coming years. And just as the Facebook debacle raises public concerns about the use of personal data, a new international test of ten and 15-year-olds is to be introduced by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) – a powerful influence on national education policies at a global scale.
In 2019, the OECD plans to launch its international Study on Social Emotional Learning. Designed as a computer-based self-completion questionnaire, at its core the test is a modified version of the Big Five Inventory. When implemented, the social and emotional skills test will assess students against each of the Big Five categories.
To be clear, although the OECD claims it is a test of social and emotional skills, it belongs to the same family of methods used in the Cambridge Analytica personality quiz. The same psychological assumptions and personality assessment methods underpin both.
Already, a commercial market of ed-tech apps and products, such as ClassDojo, has emerged to support and measure the development of students’ social-emotional skills in schools. Likewise, educational policies have begun to focus on social-emotional categories of learning, such as grit, growth mindset and character. The Department for Education supports the development of character skills in schools.
The emphasis will move further towards capturing intimate data from students, mining beneath the surface of their examination grades to capture interior details about their personalities. Advanced education technologies are already under development to see into the submerged depths of students’ personalities and emotions.
It risks reframing public education in terms of personality modification, driven by the political race for future economic advantage, rather than the pursuit of meaningful knowledge and understanding. It treats children as little indicators of future labour markets, and may distract teachers from other curriculum aims.
As education consultant Joe Nutt wrote in the Times Educational Supplement last year, “If you make data generation the goal of education then data is what you will get. Not quality teaching.”