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Privacy and Cloud-based Educational Technology Conference 2011

We offered a web cast of the conference via live stream on April 4. Catch them on our “Video” page.

Final Conference Report – Summary of recommendations

(full version here as 6-page PDF)

Approximately 100 participants from B.C.’S post-secondary institutions gathered at BCIT in downtown Vancouver Monday April 4 to learn about and discuss issues of Privacy and Cloud-based Educational Technology.

Conference participants asked BCcampus to forward a summary of the discussions at this meeting to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, to assist in identifying mutual issues to form the basis of an ongoing dialogue.

In general, the tone of the conference was one of accepting the responsibility of enhanced freedom at all levels: personal, professional and academic. Most conference participants advocated for closer ties between the “real” and “virtual” world – pointing out that as technology advances and societal norms change, standards of conduct should be the same in each. There was a general sense that the FIPPA legislation, and in many cases institutional policies surrounding digital privacy issues, have not caught up to this paradigm shift.

As we reported in the background paper “Privacy and Cloud-based Educational Technology,” we detected at the conference that the current education environment around this issue is a mix of fear, confusion, indifference, anger and frustration. Many students and instructors find restrictions around use of social media in education absurd given that they are already using the applications for personal use.

We have tried to capture all the recommendations submitted from the small group discussions at the conference accurately (those are the numbered recommendations). Some small group reports, however, were little more than “jot-notes” that were incomplete or lacking the context of the discussion. For the sake of clarity and readability some of those types of submissions were omitted.

Cloud-based educational technologies provide cost savings and open up educational opportunities and practices that improve the quality of education and cannot be achieved any other way. B.C.’s public post secondary institutions want to take advantage of both the cost savings and the educational opportunities but are being constrained from doing so by FIPPA.

Institutions are seeking ways within the bounds of legislation to do both, but the gap between what the legislation says and what many are doing in practice is significant. This creates a need to either:

a) change the legislation;

b) educate practitioners on what is allowed and what isn’t;

c) understand the value proposition associated with practices that don’t comply with legislation;

d) define processes that work within the law;

e) all of the above.

The clearest recommendations heard at the conference encompassed “all of the above” and were as follows:

  1. to work with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner and, if possible, the Office of the Chief Information Officer to develop a set of policy guidelines and resources for post-secondary educational institutions (post-secondary sector, as facilitated by BCcampus);
  2. to act as a resource, convener and facilitator on this issue for B.C.’s post-secondary system (BCcampus);
  3. to review amendment 30.1 of the FIPPA regarding storage and access of personal info to provide provisions to include social media specifically (government).


Why this conference?

Demand for third party web services for academic work is increasing among instructors and students: services like Youtube, WordPress.com and Google apps, just to name a few.

However, there is also concern and confusion in the post-secondary sector that such third-party services may not comply with of B.C.’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) if used in the context of formal academic work.

Many of these sites are free to use and offer powerful web-based tools that can enhance the teaching and learning experience, partly because they are familiar to students and will remain part of their working lives after they leave the institution. For example, in British Columbia right now, students are: posting video assignments to YouTube (a streaming server), using GoogleDocs (a collaborative document editor) to work on group projects, and improving the content of Wikipedia articles, to name a few.

The demand for these types of applications is growing far faster than our ability to service them “in-house.” In order to match the expectations of students and instructors, as well as to take advantage of the real cost savings, some B.C. institutions are looking for ways to bring these services into their teaching and learning processes. Many individual instructors are using social media applications ad hoc, in the absence of similar hosted services in their institutions.

Goals of the conference:

  • Discuss potential uses of shared service and cloud-based computing services in the context of FIPPA and the Patriot Act.
  • Clarify FIPPA requirements with regard to technology services. What are the essential private data elements? What are the real constraints to using third-party services?
  • Share and discuss guidelines that administrators, faculty and staff can consult when determining whether Web 2.0 and social media applications, services and products they want to use are in compliance with FIPPA.
  • Describe the legal implications of the FIPPA and US Patriot Act in terms of using web-based services located in the US and/or hosted in Canada by US companies. What are options for ensuring there is no disclosure, without a student’s consent, of personal information?

Intended Audience:

Academic Vice-Presidents, Provosts and Vice-Provosts, CIOs/Directors of IT; Institutional Privacy Officers; Directors of Educational Technology, Librarians.

Schedule of Events:

Morning session:

9:00 – 10:00 Registration and continental breakfast/reception

*10:00 Opening remarks and welcome by Paul Stacey, BCcampus

*10:15 Keynote Speaker:

  • Caitlin Leminski, Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia
    Elizabeth Denham, BC’s Information and Privacy Commissioner

    UPDATE – April 1, 2011: Elizabeth Denham, Information and Privacy Commissioner for the province of British Columbia, is now unable to give her keynote address due to illness. In her place, Caitlin Leminski from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner will deliver Ms Denham’s presentation. We apologize for any inconvenience and wish Ms. Denham a speedy recovery.

*10:35 Question and Answer: Caitlin Leminski

10:55 Coffee/networking break

*11:15  Panel: Setting the Stage

Our panelists will present the legal, technical and educational framework of FIPPA legislation and its impact on BC’s post-secondary sector, followed by questions from the participants.

  • Moderator: Paul Stacey, BCcampus
  • Privacy Officer panelist: Mark Grady, Royal Roads University
  • Technical panelist: Mark Roman, CIO, University of Victoria
  • Educational panelist: Pam Portal, privacy consultant

12:30 Lunch (provided)

Afternoon session

*1:30 Case Studies, current examples, possible workarounds and issues

A series of case studies from BC post-secondary sector sharing ideas, policies, technical knowledge and ideas.

  • “The what, whys and hows of implementing hosted email services for staff and students at Vancouver Community College” – Ben Guanzon, Vancouver Community College
  • “Digital Tattoo: An Approach to Awareness Building” — Trish Rosseal, Teaching & Learning Librarian University of British Columbia Library and Cindy Underhill, Learning Resource Design Strategist, UBC Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology
  • Using social media in a learning setting – Mary Sanseverino, University of Victoria – via conference call

2:30 Small group discussions

  • Conference-goers will be asked to suggest a series of next steps for BC’s post-secondary sector. Do we need to create guidelines and best practices? Do we need more guidance from government about how to work within the legislation? Who should take the ideas forward and implement them?
  • Each group will designate a reporter who will report out and submit action items for follow-up.

3:45 Conference closing remarks and wrap-up

  • representative from a smaller institution: Gina Bennett, College of the Rockies
  • representative from a larger institution: Michelle Lambersion, University of British Columbia
  • Each to provide closing remarks to tie together/encapsulate the day’s discussions.

* denotes the session will be available live via webcast

Conference Speakers [Video]

Welcoming remarks, plus the opening keynote by Caitlin Leminski from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

Morning panel discussion with Pam Portal, Mark Grady and Mark Roman.

Afternoon presentations by Mary Sanseverino, the Digital Tattoo project (Cindy Underhill and Trish Rosseel) and Ben Guanzon.