I have been doing a looooot of work recently on how to keep teachers and students safe when using ‘externally hosted’ (i.e., outside of your institution) web services, such as those we find in ‘Web 2.0’. Of course, Web 2.0 allows for clearly constructivist and connectivist pedagogies, which is all good for education … BUT … There can be problems when teachers ‘go rogue’ and use external services in inappropriate or uninformed ways, thus exposing their institution, its staff or students to risks to reputation, to legal liability and other such nasties that I’m sure we would all really rather avoid.
If we accept the educational rationale for staff and students wanting to use externally hosted services in class (as opposed, or in addition, to the dreaded LMS), then we must also find safe, responsible and sustainable ways for them to do so. The issue, then, is not whether or not we should prevent staff and students from using externally hosted web services, but, rather, what procedures, processes, guidelines and recommendations we need to put in places to avoid exposure to unnecessary risk.
Some of the risks you need to consider in any assessment of external services include:
- breaches of privacy, confidentiality and data security
- loss of service and loss of student work
- loss of student work
- breach of confidentiality
- unauthorised access to data and loss of data
- performance problems
This might seem like a whole lot of Terrible, but it’s not, really. If you conduct a proper analysis, you will be able to find ways of managing risk to acceptable levels. After all, that is very idea of risk management: that you manage risk!
Felling overwhelmed? Well, don’t! Thankfully, Meg has done a risk analysis for you and you are free to use it as you wish :). I have based my risk analysis template (Word, 180 KB) on the University of Edinburgh’s excellent Guidelines for Using External Web 2.0 Services and JISC infoNet’s JISC risk management infokit, both of which are released under Creative Commons licences. I’ve beefed things up a bit, so go crazy: download it, adapt it, rework it, improve it, whatever — whatever you do, use it for the greater good of employing Web 2.0 technologies to good pedagogical effect!
Risk analysis template (Word, 180 KB)
Risk analysis template (pdf, 180 KB)