Ensuring Users’ Rights to Privacy, Confidence and Reputation in the Online Learning Environment: What Should Instructors Do to Protect Their Students’ Privacy?

Ensuring Users’ Rights to Privacy, Confidence and Reputation in the Online Learning Environment: What Should Instructors Do to Protect Their Students’ Privacy?

Louis B. Swartz (Robert Morris University, USA), Michele T. Cole (Robert Morris University, USA) and David Lovejoy (Robert Morris University, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-323-2.ch504
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Abstract

There is no clear right to privacy, confidence, and reputation in United States case law or in legislation for students in the online environment. While some privacy interests are protected under a variety of legal theories, none expressly applies to online education. This study examines pertinent issues concerning the privacy rights of students while engaged in online learning. A survey of students using online tools in their courses demonstrated a widespread belief that their communications were private. A second survey of business law instructors using online tools revealed a lack of awareness of the potential for abuse by third parties able to access users’ information. Survey results were inconclusive with regard to the existence of policies and procedures within the institutions with regard to protecting users’ privacy rights in online instruction. Survey respondents made several recommendations for action to mediate the lack of existing protections for privacy in online learning.

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