Online Educational Technologies
Statutory and Policy Requirements
- Universities are required to comply with the provisions of the provincial Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).
- Specifically, the University must collect, use, maintain, disclose and dispose of personal information consistent with the legislation. The University also manages information in accordance with University policy and guidelines.
- As care must be exercised to protect student privacy, you should be familiar with the following:
Before Choosing a Tool
- Investigate which educational technology tools are already in use at the University
- The goal here is for you to understand what information about your students may be collected, used, and/or disclosed by the service.
- Watch for
- Improper Collection. Does the online educational services collect and retain students’ personal information (e.g., names, email addresses) for their own purposes? Do they track and record students’ online activities and interactions with others?
- Unauthorized Use. Does the online educational services evaluate students’ performance and generate learning profiles and other personal information and use this to market other learning tools or products directly to students without their consent?
- Unauthorized Disclosure. Does the online educational services sell students’ personal information to third parties that market other services and products?
- Ensure that the tool minimizes the identifiability of students and the collection of their personal information
- It is best to choose a tool that does not require students to identify themselves by disclosing things such as their name, email addresses, or other identifying information.
- If such information appears to be required, then either choose a different tool, or assign students a pseudonym or fictional name. Where that feature exists, students can also separately choose to use a pseudonym; however, they must disclose the pseudonym to their instructor in advance. Students can also create accounts using newly created usernames and passwords and be reminded to complete only the required data fields.
After Choosing a Tool
- Determine whether an Information Risk Assessment is required. Complete this step before proceeding any further!
- If formal review is not required or has already been completed:
- Notify students about the online educational technology that you plan to use as part of your course. The notice should be timely, accessible, clear, and concise, and enable individuals to make informed decisions.
- Inform students about:
- what personal information is required by the online educational technology service
- principal purpose or purposes for the use of their personal information
- who to contact for any questions or concerns
- Provide alternatives. Allow students to opt out; offer other ways to participate.
Before using the Tool:
- Ensure Familiarity: Make sure that you and your students are familiar with the platform being used, including guidance on how to enable security and privacy safeguards.
- Provide timely and ongoing guidance to students on how to:
- Create an online account
- Create a user profile
- Create or upload online content
- Configure account settings and preferences
- Manage cookies, especially "third-party" tracking cookies
- Download and install software, especially on personal computing devices
- Use social logins safely
- Delete online content
- Close accounts and de-activate student ID lists, if applicable
- Tell students:
- To be mindful about how they communicate when using the tool. Students should also be taught about what constitutes appropriate peer feedback and what would not constitute appropriate peer feedback. Any communication should be topical, focused on course content, and individuals should refrain from divulging the personal information of themselves or others.
- About the limitations and risks of using online tools, for which the University is not responsible, such as:
- limitations to ensuring privacy and security of information despite reasonable efforts;
- possible introduction of malware into computer system, which could potentially damage or disrupt computer networks, and security settings;
- connectivity/technical difficulties or loss of data that is associated with the student's hardware, software, or Internet connection.
- Understand Records Retention: You should be familiar with and follow WatClass, the University Records Classification and Retention Schedules.
When Recording is Involved
- Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
Questions or Concerns
If you have questions about the above guidance in relation to online educational technologies, or if you have additional questions about protecting University records containing personal information or about our responsibilities under Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy legislation, please contact email@example.com. learn more.
For questions specific to online educational technology tools, please contact Centre for Extended Learning.