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Georgia Tech wipes out years of learning

| October 28, 2013 | 0 Comments

In 2011, the Georgia Institute of Technology (GT) in Atlanta, Georgia, in the US caused controversy when it deleted all student history and participation from the school’s ‘Swikis’, the wikis that students use for their coursework. Georgia Tech had been using wikis for this purpose since 1997, pioneering the usage of the collaborative tools for undergraduate education.

One of the features of the school’s wikis was that they allowed for cross-course and cross-semester communication. You could, should you choose, remain in a wiki for a class you’d taken previously, for example, reported journalist Audrey Watters.

Mark Guzdial, a professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing, describes the university’s decision on a computing education blog:

“Georgia Tech’s interpretation of FERPA is that protected information includes the fact that a student is enrolled at all. The folks at GT responsible for oversight of FERPA realised that a student’s name in a website that references a course is evidence of enrolment. Yesterday, in one stroke, every Swiki ever used for a course was removed. None of those uses I described can continue. For example, you can’t have cross-semester discussions or public galleries, because students in one semester of a course can’t know the identities of other students who had taken the course previously.”

Says Watters, Guzdial fears that not only does this undermine constructivist learning on campus, but that this interpretation may spread to other schools, right at the time when the web has such great potential for teaching and learning.

Category: e-Education, Summer 2013

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