Nat’l Science Foundation grants $5M to Carnegie Mellon University to suction student data

By Brad McQueen

The federal government through the National Science Foundation is giving Carnegie Mellon University a $5 million grant  to aid in gathering and storing student data to include academic and behavioral data in a system called LearnSphere.

Lead researcher on LearnSphere, Ken Koedinger professor of human computer interaction and psychology at Carnegie Mellon, already set up the country’s largest repository of student data called DataShop, in 2004, which started the whole student data mining craze. According to Carnegie Mellon, “Most of the information in DataShop is gleaned from heavily interactive systems, such as computerized tutoring systems and educational computer games…”

This grant will help Koedinger set up another data suctioning/storage system called LearnSphere which will collect “student behavioral” data too by accessing over “550 datasets generated from interactive tutoring systems, educational games and massively open online courses (MOOCs).”

The selling point for LearnSphere is that it will allow researchers to store their data on their own servers, rather than at a central location, and give them greater control over who can access their data. The Obama administration changed the education privacy regulations (FERPA) so that private companies could suction and store student data without notifying parents or getting their permission.

Since the federal government is paying for this new data gathering system through the National Science Foundation you can bet it will have access to all that student data. Will parents be able to access their kids’ data as well, providing that they even know it was suctioned?

The data predators’ targets will include all that wonderful “educational” gaming, teaching, and tutoring software that is offered to schools and teachers for free that your kids usually use during computer time at school. Through accessing massively open online courses (MOOCs) perhaps this will also pull homeschoolers’ information into the data mining party too.

As a teacher I get emails all the time from major companies offering free “Common Core aligned” interactive lessons that I can use with my students if all that Common Core stuff is just too complicated for me to teach on my own.   Do the Common Core data predators ever sleep? Apparently they don’t.

bradBrad McQueen is a former Common Core insider and current public school teacher in Tucson, Arizona and is the author of the anti-Common Core book “The Cult of Common Core”. Connect with Brad at

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Under the leadership of Editor in Chief Huey Freeman, the Editorial Board of the Arizona Daily Independent offers readers an opportunity to comment on current events and the pressing issues of the day. Occasionally, the Board weighs-in on issues of concern for the residents of Arizona and the US.