Helping Educators To Proactively Understand The Enabling Power Of Digital Technology and Mobile Communications, But Also How To Mitigate The Sometimes Unintended Consequences Of High Risk/Undesirable Online Behaviour
Online tools are a central element of 21st Century education, but many require users to share pieces of information legally defined in British Columbia as “personal information”. Daily, news headlines announce the latest privacy fails by businesses, corporations, and government departments—both intentional and unintentional. Public schools, faculty and staff have particular obligations when they encourage or demand people use online tools that require the sharing of “personal information” but they don’t often understand that “personal information” means more than names, birth dates, and/or addresses: it includes educational level, age, gender, ethnicity, religion, voice, image and more. Privacy legislation increasingly impacts schools’ and educators’ use of online tools and their need to stay on the right side of the law. In BC, the onus to ensure compliance with privacy law falls on public sector organizations—like schools—rather than vendors or service providers. BC’s Freedom of Information & Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) is one of Canada’s—and indeed North America’s—most stringent privacy laws for public organizations and is not often well understood within the public-school system as it relates to the use of online tools.