Michael Morris, a lieutenant with the University Police at California State University-Channel Islands, argues for data mining student activity and accounts to predict – and hopefully prevent – violence or other serious problems. He writes, in part:
Many campuses across the country and most in California provide each student with an e-mail address, personal access to the university’s network, free use of campus computers, and wired and wireless Internet access for their Web-connected devices. Students use these campus resources for conducting research, communicating with others, and for other personal activities on the Internet, including social networking. University officials could potentially mine data from their students and analyze them, since the data are already under their control. The analysis could then be screened to predict behavior to identify when a student’s online activities tend to indicate a threat to the campus.
Seriously, Michael? Just because companies and others already data mine publicly available information or services like Gmail include targeted advertising based on email contents, that makes it okay for colleges – academia – the sanctuary of intellectual and private thought – to data mine?
This may be one of the worst ideas I’ve read all month.
You can read his full opinion piece on Chronicle of Higher Education.