Media coverage of MOOCs and data protection (updated)

There was this week some coverage in the news of privacy issues in MOOCs, particularly around the startup Coursera.

The journalists asked a data protection official of a Lander in Germany and of the Canton of Zurich, who confirmed that Coursera could do anything they want with the data collected.

I was most surprised by how tone deaf the Munich academic was at those concerns. Then I saw that he is a professor of computer science and economics. From my experience discussing with dozens of professors about MOOCs, this is definitely a two-culture issue, with the CS people at one end of the spectrum. (update: judging from the response of the vice-rector of the University of Zurich, a jurist, there goes my theory...)

Of course privacy is a very narrow framing of the issues that MOOC platforms raise, particularly when they are based in the US. For a quick recap, you can consult a Storify I made a while back, or if you have more time watch for instance my talk in DC from a few weeks ago.