McGill’s Cloud Directive: The all-weather business of protecting students’ privacy and intellectual property

Cloud Directive is not the business of forecasters who seek to manipulate the weather, but it is the business of McGill instructors in that they play a role in protecting their students’ personal information and intellectual property. 

McGill’s Cloud Directive (infographic representation) provides the McGill community with information about our responsibilities vis-à-vis the protection of personal information and intellectual property. 

Why do instructors need to pay attention to the Cloud Directive? 

McGill’s Cloud Directive has been in effect for a number of years, but now, with the pandemic-imposed shift to teaching online, it has become particularly important to highlight its relevance. Teaching online has inspired many instructors to experiment with the myriad technology tools available to engage students in learning and assess that learning. Many of these tools are freely available over the internet and can therefore be especially enticing to use. 

But wait! What if, for example, these tools require students to create an account or simply to log in with their name? And then what if students engage in activities where they submit their reactions to a prompt or their ideas on an assigned topic? Now, their personal data and their intellectual property are “out there,” potentially available for the owners of these technology tools to share, perhaps even sell, that information.

Instructors mustn’t let that happen. Instructors play an important role in protecting student data. Companies or organizations—for or not for profit—that offer teaching tools must sign an agreement with McGill University (not individual instructors) to respect Quebec privacy laws. 

In addition, unless students have knowingly consented to sharing their personal information and intellectual property with a third party, instructors must not ask students to use a third-party tool. 

The Enforcement and Compliance section of the Cloud Directive details an individual’s and unit’s liability should data privacy be breached through the use of unauthorized tools. 

Which technology tools has McGill approved for use with students?  

Ensure your students’ privacy is respected by using only McGill-approved technology tools. You’ll see that the McGill community has access to more than three dozen tools that safely and securely allow for academically rigorous and creative teaching and learning activities. Here are some examples: 

What if a really useful tool is not on the “approved tool” list? 

If you teach at McGill, you can request that a tool be evaluated for teaching and learning use. Read more on the McGill-approved technology tools page and then submit the Online teaching and learning tool evaluation request form

Image credits 

Learning Pathways byDuke Innovation Co-Lab, US in theInnovation Collection 

Security by shashank singh in the Security Collection 

Warning by RAHMAT DWI CAHYO, ID in the Computing Collection 

Photo by Franck on Unsplash

Senior Academic Associate at McGill's Teaching and Learning Services.; former Senior Faculty Lecturer at the McGill Writing Centre; area of specialization: Second Language Education; loves teaching and learning; will work for chocolate (Photo credit: Owen Egan)

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