The development of an e-learning environment such as TeSLA involves some ethical and sociological issues that deserve to be dealt with. The biometric tools and online platform, as any technological object implicating social relationships, are not morally and politically neutral. They induce specific behaviours and socially constructed representations of users. The point of an ethical point of view is to widen the approach and avoid normative shortcuts.
These devices authorize learners to access the system on the basis of “objectively defined” criteria. Despite the scientifically approved justification of these criteria, they most of the time turn out to be linked with an underlying vision of what a “normal” student is or should be. The arbitrariness of physical traits as an identity indicator can be illustrated by the learning process of recognition algorithms : computer engineers show a sample of face images or voice recordings to “train” their algorithms and the future working of those are influenced by the choice of these samples, which could lead to severe discrimination in the authentication of genuine users.
The consortium takes into account issues related to the respect for private life. But again, it can’t be defined as a pure objective concept and the chosen representation of privacy conflicts with other representations. A main question regarding this thematic is the balance between privacy and security : Can a hypothetical gain in security legitimize a privacy infringement? Keeping in mind the different existing visions of privacy can help to seek deeper answers to such questions.
TeSLA’s biometric framework considerably influences the learning process. Creators of such a project often tend to concentrate on their specific tools and do not take into account how these technologies induce a specific way of learning even if they don’t deal explicitly with this aspect. Through existing literature about the past experiments with concerns to e-learning, it appears that a so-called “new mainstream paradigm” is on the rise. This paradigm includes values such as self-entrepreneurship, responsabilization, and the individualization of learning process,… Biometric tools may encourage to adopt this paradigm and the ethical approach aims to show the potential diversity of learning paradigms to enlighten the choices of creators.
University of Namur
FUNDED BY THE EUROPEAN UNION
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