Human beings value their privacy and the protection of their personal sphere of life. They value some control over who knows what about them. They certainly do not want their personal information to be accessible to just anyone at any time. But recent advances in information technology threaten privacy and have reduced the amount of control over personal data and open up the possibility of a range of negative consequences as a result of access to personal data. In the second half of the 20th century data protection regimes have been put in place as a response to increasing levels of processing of personal data. The 21st century has become the century of big data and advanced information technology (e.g. forms of deep learning), the rise of big tech companies and the platform economy, which comes with the storage and processing of exabytes of data.
The revelations of Edward Snowden, and more recently the Cambridge Analytica case (Cadwalladr & Graham-Harrison 2018) have demonstrated that worries about negative consequences are real. The technical capabilities to collect, store and search large quantities of data concerning telephone conversations, internet searches and electronic payment are now in place and are routinely used by government agencies and corporate actors alike. The rise of China and the large scale of use and spread of advanced digital technologies for surveillance and control have only added to the concern of many. For business firms, personal data about customers and potential customers are now also a key asset. The scope and purpose of the personal data centered business models of Big Tech (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple) has been described in detail by Shoshana Zuboff (2018) under the label “surveillance capitalism”.
The impact of information technology on privacy
The debates about privacy are almost always revolving around new technology, ranging from genetics and the extensive study of bio-markers, brain imaging, drones, wearable sensors and sensor networks, social media, smart phones, closed circuit television, to government cybersecurity programs, direct marketing, surveillance, RFID tags, big data, head-mounted displays and search engines. The impact of some of these new technologies, with a particular focus on information technology, is discussed in this section.
Emerging technologies and our understanding of privacy
In the previous sections, we have outlined how current technologies may impact privacy, as well as how they may contribute to mitigating undesirable effects. However, there are future and emerging technologies that may have an even more profound impact. Consider for example brain-computer interfaces. In case computers are connected directly to the brain, not only behavioral characteristics are subject to privacy considerations, but even one’s thoughts run the risk of becoming public, with decisions of others being based upon them. In addition, it could become possible to change one’s behavior by means of such technology. Such developments therefore require further consideration of the reasons for protecting privacy. In particular, when brain processes could be influenced from the outside, autonomy would be a value to reconsider to ensure adequate protection.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, Chinese universities have launched online education reforms to form an open education network based on information and network technologies. With the rapid development of Massive Open Online Courses, the number of these online courses offered by Chinese universities has exceeded 500, and nearly 3 million people have participated in these courses (Shang & Cao, 2017). As the forerunner of online education in Chinese universities, Peking University has offered about one hundred online courses. However, compared to the face to face courses offered by universities, the proportion of online courses is still low, and most of the online courses are taken by adult vocational students who have not registered at Peking University.
The outbreak of COVID‐19 was unexpected and it forced Peking University to launch live online programs of a total of 2,613 undergraduate online courses and 1,824 graduate online courses in order to ensure the normal teaching operation, with 44,700 students stay at homes or dorms (Lei, 2020).
It is a massive, disruptive shift to move all the existing courses online in a matter of days. In general, a complete online course requires an elaborate lesson plan design, teaching materials such as audio and video contents, as well as technology support teams. However, due to the sudden emergence of the COVID‐19, most faculty members are facing the challenges of lacking online teaching experience, early preparation, or support from educational technology teams.
In addition to the challenges to the faculty, existing research indicates that more than 60% of Chinese college students have a tendency to have ambiguous future career goals, lack active academic involvement, and spend more time in‐class study compared with out‐class study according to their study time (the average total graduation credit requirement for Chinese universities is 163 credits) (Bao, 2019; Bao & Zhang, 2012). In addition, based on an analysis of students' responses in social media, for such a large‐scale online teaching, the challenges for students did not come from technical operational obstacles. Instead, they have difficulties due to the lack of a good learning attitude. Students often have problems such as lack of self‐discipline, suitable learning materials, or good learning environments when they are self‐isolated at home.
The present case study will focus on those problems presented above, and discuss how faculty can implement effective instructional strategies to prevent negative learning attitudes of college students and ensure the effectiveness of online education.
The importance of private in the technological era with the help of a case study .