In 2011, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) published details of eighty three cases where formal action was taken regarding a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). Of these, around 25% related to the use of mobile or portable devices resulting in loss of personal information. Two of the cases involved substantial monetary penalties (£70,000 and £80,000) for the organisations found to be in breach of the DPA.
This paper will look at the use made of mobile and portable technology in colleges and universities, the legal obligations of college or university to protect personal data stored and accessible from mobile devices and the stance of the ICO. It will also examine the practice and policies universities and colleges should consider to minimise the risk of loss of personal data resulting in breach of the legislation. The definition of mobile devices for the purposes of this paper is broad and includes memory sticks, mobile phones including smart phones, tablet technologies, PDAs, netbooks and laptops.
Mobile device use in colleges and universities is on the increase as it allows flexibility in access and working arrangements for staff and is actively encouraged. There is also much ongoing research and projects investigating potential in teaching and learning activities.
Last year, RSC West Midlands launched a project to help learning providers discover how the Apple iPad can enhance teaching and learning for students with learning difficulties.
Two specialist colleges from our region, Regent College in Stoke on Trent and New College Worcester evaluated the accessibility features of the iPad, explored the different Apps available, and the suitability of the iPad as a teaching and learning tool.
Both learning providers produced a report as part of the project. The reports are now available via the RSC West Midlands projects wiki.
Regent College trialled the iPad with four learners from the Learning for Living programme. The college downloaded a free educational app, ‘MyChoicePad Lite’ which uses Makaton symbols, signs and sign videos with real speech. It is ideal for learners with limited communication skills. The learners who took part in the trial have taken more ownership of their learning as a result of using the iPad.
New College Worcester trialled the iPad with one visually impaired and one blind learner. The visually impaired learner was able to draw using the ‘Brushes’ app, whilst the blind learner created music using the ‘Garage Band’ app. The project gave the college further ideas for how the iPad can be used in different curriculum areas.
Charnwood wanted to improve their retention and achievement rates in their training in the pub and club sector. By introducing Tablet PCs and electronic learning materials the company revolutionised access and the manner of delivery for its learners. Retention rates are now almost double to what they were prior to the introduction of the Tablet PCs.
Your college or university may already be using mobile technologies or be thinking of new teaching or research possibilities incorporating the use of mobile devices. Such activities might include development of mobile apps, delivery of digital materials to Kindles, or streaming recordings for students to view on their laptops or iPads. Copyright and accessibility law need to be considered when using mobile devices. To help give you confidence in your compliance with the law, here are top tips for getting to grips with copyright and accessibility when using mobile devices.
Linkage College identified issues of cost and mobility in using big communication devices with some of their learners with specific needs. Initial trials identified an iPad as a more affordable and accessible alternative. Their use can improve interaction in the classroom and help individuals develop lifelong management skills relating to their communication needs.
Work-based learning assessors often face challenges surrounding time spent on travelling, administration and reviewing students' work. Thanks to the implementation of a new e-portfolio solution, and the introduction of a tablet device, (part of a project devised by the JISC Regional Support Centre West Midlands), Stourbridge College has addressed these challenges which has resulted in time saved, an increase in efficiency and the potential for tablet devices to be used more widely across the college.
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