Your institution needs to comply with legislation pertaining to personal data, learning activities, research outputs, employing staff and the provision of other services.
Many activities involving computer networks and systems will be affected by this.
Our networking, computers and the law guide offers information and advice on monitoring networks, issues that may arise for staff and students, the disclosure of information to officials, and logs and data collection.
Intellectual property right law has struggled to keep up with changes in technology - our guide on intellectual property rights in a digital world focuses specifically on this, looking at different kinds of content and licensing issues.
Data and privacy
With online learning, the laws remain the same – but your institution may need to reconsider how it deals with these operationally. For example, the ways in which campus-based students validate their identity, and how their data and privacy are protected, will be well-established.
Online students will need different mechanisms, and this is particularly challenging if courses or classes involve external participants with no formal connection to the institution.
Your institution should develop formal policies at an institutional (rather than departmental) level, with advice from appropriate legal experts.
Once these have been agreed and implemented, staff and students will need clear information and guidance to make sure any online learning activities comply with the law. Institutional policies should include ownership and licensing of content, but it is helpful to allow provision for some flexibility.
Some projects, classes or courses may develop content that is intended to have open licences, and if institutional policies do not make provision for this then staff may be tempted to operate 'under the radar'.
Any student may choose to access learning activities or content through mobile devices, but online students are more likely to do so.
Our guide, Your students, mobile devices, law and liability covers legal risks, liability, data protection and privacy, copyright and learning resources, inappropriate material, internet safety and equality duties.
|Barriers||What you can do|
Staff don’t know which legislation affects online learning provision
|Identify and appoint champions around legal issues|
|Provide clear guidance and training|
|Offer a staff and student legal service, particularly during early days|
|Access national legal guidance and services|
|Staff and students don’t understand how online content licences work||Staff engagement activities, training and support|
|Incorporate content licensing into digital literacy elements of the course|
|Provide online tutorials and guidance around licensing|
|Use content developed by other institutions or use open educational resources (OER) which address this issue|