18 December 2009

Legal issues of using Web 2.0 + E-safety

Two sessions orginised by WM RSC took placce on 17 December 2009 which I attended. Both sessions were led by Jackie Milne from JISC Legal.

JISC Legal provides guidance for use of ICT in education and research.

The morning session was on LEGAL ISSUES OF USING WEB 2.0.

One of the most obvious issues in that area is IPR (Intellectual Property Rights). A good video on that is available at
http://www.jisc.ac.uk/news/stories/2008/12/web2rights.aspx. The video refers to the IPR flowchart (PDF). More useful information about IPR on the web is available at Web2Rights website.

The intellectual property law sees a creator as the primary owner of the copyright. However, this may not be the case if the creator is an employee and created a work as part of his contract (e.g. a web designer creating a website layout, style etc.). Also the College may be liable for the copyright infringement if it happened using the College network, especially if not precautions were taken, e.g. to make users aware of the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).

The duty of care is another important issue to consider when one uses social networking in education. It's higher if the use of social networking tools and solutions is a requirement; lower if it's optional for a particular programme. If it's a requirement for the course, the necessary precautions have to be made, starting from a risk assessment.

With new technologies and information sources issue of accessibility comes too: all learners have to have a comparable experience. A long discussion about advantages/disadvantages of using mobile technology for learning from the point of view of SEN took place. Here, I was reminded about my own experience of a student with a visual impairment attending my information skills session. The session was heavily based on demonstrations - of using Heritage Online, e-resources etc. Clearly, that student did not get a "comparable experience". Perhaps a special podcast should be prepared which would guide a person with visual impairments step by step through the examples understandable by / accessible to such a person. Accessibility side of teaching must be anticipatory and proactive to enable access to the core materials in different ways. (Which means, e.g., that Power Point presentations must be backed up with something else).

Web 2.0 tools can be hosted or external. If hosted by the institution itself, there will be an issue of data protection and legitimate access to information.

Liability can take different forms: breach of contract (in terms of adequate provision of learning), negligence, copyright...

An example of YouTube videos use in classroom was looked at. The College may be liable for a secondary infringement of the author's right if a video shown in a classroom (or advised to be watched by students at home) was in fact illegally uploaded to YouTube. The content used in education must always be legal. Obviously, it would be illegal to download YouTube videos and store - either on storage devices or the network. YouTube videos can be imbedded only as a player without modifications.

On the other hand, the copyright law gives special exceptions for educational institutions and for research purposes (even more - to teachers and students on media programmes); they should be used.

It was advised that all Colleges have a Web 2.0 policy which would include procedures for staff, notices, content removal procedures, resolving external website difficulties (like fake identities, derogatory comments?), allocated responsibilities.

The afternoon session was on E-SAFETY. It's a big topic now since Ofsted made it a limiting grade, e.i. the overal inspection mark cannot be above the one for e-safety (as well as equality and diversity).

A few useful links:

Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP)

Be Safe e-Safe video from Kenttv.com - free for personal educational use (i.e. it's fine to show it in a classroom as part of teaching).

Duty of care is a statutory duty for educators. Under this umbrella, safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults (and in a broader sense, everyone, I presume) comes. It means that we obliged to provide for others the right to be and feel safe, free from victimisation and discrimination.

Some issues were given as those to consider in relation to e-safety:

  • Data protection and privacy
  • IPR and Copyright
  • Defamation
  • Harrassment
  • Sexual Offences
  • Cyberbullying

E-safety measures should include (I presume it's not an exhaustive list):

  • Security (technology side)
  • Management of data
  • Acceptable Use Policy (JANET and NEN have their specific requirements for the associated institutions which may have implications for AUP)
  • Linked policies and procedures
  • Ways of reporting incidents.

E-safety material should have a tone and language appropriate for learners.

A special point was made that proper e-safety policy and practice will always include educational elements, not just access measures. How far in restricting access or allowing it while paying more attention to promoting appropriate knowledge, skills and good practice a particular institution may go depends on the culture of this institution - how much risk it's happy to take, how safe it wants to play. Ultimately, there is no one model suitable for everyone, therefore a discussion and thinking should take place.

A wiki page has already been created for this event by West Midlands Regional Support Centre. It's available at

Image: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/498072

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