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The COVID-19 pandemic greatly accelerated the use of digital technologies in education. But beyond the emergency response, there is an international trend towards exploring how artificial intelligence and data-based analytics can support learning, learning assessments, and evidence-based policy planning processes.
The use of data in education is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they offer tremendous potential to create value by improving policies and programmes, driving transparent governance and better management of education systems, teachers’ empowerment, personalized learning experiences, assessment, and certification. On the other hand, data accumulation can lead to a concentration of economic and political power, raising the possibility that data may be misused in ways that harm learners.
As part of its work on digitalization and the right to education, UNESCO has recently released the publication “Minding the data: protecting learners’ privacy and security”, arguing that a balance must be struck between the use of technology to advance educational transformation and the safeguarding of privacy and individual rights. Proper rules and protocols are needed to protect students and teachers not only in national policies but also at international level, where cooperation and collaborative efforts are also required to support policy learning, knowledge sharing and mutual understanding.
Digital learning, its opportunities and challenges form an integral part of the ongoing UNESCO initiative on the Evolving Right to Education, which aims to reflect on the aspects of the right to education framework that may need to be reframed in the light of 21st century trends and challenges.