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.

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.

The clearest recommendations from the conference 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).

Please feel free to download the entire conference report (6 pages).

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