Data Protection and Data Ethics

In January 2016  I passed the (ISC)2  CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) credential exam and became an Associate of (ISC)2.  I have maintained my associate status through obtaining the required Continunting Professional Experience (CPE) credits in both 2016 and 2017 by attending a number of accredited events.  One of these events was a JISC one day conference on the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Additionally, as I make use of our insitutional Data Safe Haven (an ISO27001 certified secure data management facility) I was required to undertaken data protection training and am required to refresh this training annually. The Data Safe Haven would not normally be used for storing the pseudonymised student data that I was requesting for the learning analytics project, however, as I would be combining data from multiple data sets (including grade, gender and fee status data) there was an increased likelihood that students could be identified from the data.

As part of the requirements for obtaining access to data sets for exploring learning analytics I was required to complete both a Data Protection Registration and submit documentation for review to the Research Ethics Committee.  Both of these were successful and enabled be to develop an understanding of UCL’s research integrity processes.

Data protection and ethics are key topics within the learning analytics community, this is an area that I have read and thought lots about. Almost all of the data that is currently being considered for use or is being used in learning analytics implementations were originally collected for alternative processes e.g. through interaction with the virtual learning environment, use of library services and student registration. These data can reveal a lot about student behaviours. The GDPR requires data collectors to be clear about what they are collecting, for what purposes and the legal grounds for collection.  Most learning analytics activities can be considered as legitimate interest, however, when it comes to personal interventions, those targeted at an individiual and not a group or cohort, these are deemed to require informed consent.  Jisc has produced a code of practice that was created in collaboration with the NUS and guidance on learning analytics and GDPR.

I posted about Data Ethics in the UCL Digital Education team blog in December 2016 and about ethics with regard to AI in Febraury 2017

Additionally, I have specifically spoken about data ethics and learning analytics. This has included a talk at Infinite Conf in 2017 (, a panel discussion at DigiFest ( and a Jisc What The EdTech? podcast with Paul Bailey from Jisc (

In Summer 2017 as part of the roll-outof the updated lecture capture systems I assisted colleagues in the Core team by drafting guidance for staff on students on the data collected by the new system, and guidance to staff on the analytics provided by the new system (

Accessibility and Inclusion

The social relational model of disability identifies externally imposed disadvantage and restriction as being caused by a contemporary social organisation that takes little or no account of people who have impairments1.  If we subscribe to this model we therefore need to ensure that UCL as a social organisation does not impose such disadvantages and restrictions.  This includes all teaching and learning.

During my time working as a Secondary ICT teacher I taught a number of students with Special Educational Needs and whilst working in Peterborough students with hearing impairments, this required me to adjust my resources and teaching style so that the lessons and learning resources were accessible to all learners.  As evidenced in earlier sections through my work with RITS and ISG, this is a practice I have continued whilst working at UCL.

For example, whilst selecting the choice of style sheet for use on the RITS online courses I liased with Michele Farmer the Disability IT Support Analyst to ensure that the selected style was the most accessible for those with dyslexia and visual impairments. Additionally, for the first courses created I arranged with Michele for the course website to be tested by users of the SENIT Suite (a dedicated IT workroom that provides improved access for disabled students) to check for compatibility with centrally supported assistive technologies. This featured in my talk at the OER18 presentation as resources that are made openly available should be accessible to as many potential users as possible. Additionally, at a recent open education themed hack day for staff and students I gave a brief presentation on accessible design and why it was important (slide deck) and a topic I have mentioned at the open education special interest group meetings.

As part of the Mozilla Open Leadership Training we focused on inclusivity, and looked specifically at unconcious bias.  I have volunteered with organisations such as Stemettes to promote STEM careers to young women, and to young people as a whole through my role as a STEM ambassador.  The Inclusive Curriculum Checklist was launched at UCL’s BME Attainment Conference that was held in April this year. I have shared the checklist with colleagues in both Digital Education and RITS, and am using it to inform the learning resources I am producing.

In addition to the above, I have recently volunteered to be a member of The Carpentries Code of Conduct committee. The Carpentries are committed to creating a friendly and respectful place for learning, teaching and collaborating (  The role of the committee is to receive, review and act upon reports of brieaches of the code of conduct.  The commitee is currently in the process of reviewing it’s documentations in terms of language used and processes, as part of this review I have volunteered to design a data collection form.

Mozilla Open Leaders Certificate


1. Seale, J. (2014). E-learning and disability in higher education : Accessibility research and practice (Second ed.).

Licensing and Copyright

At the OER18 conference I spoke about the decisions taken whilst creating the RITS online courses. Part of this discussion was about licensing and copyright, what types of licenses were available and selecting a Creative Commons (CC) license.  There was some disagreement as I wanted to select a slightly more restrictive license than the one they had previously used and wanted to continue using CC-BY-SA-NC versus CC-BY-SA. (My talk from the OER18 conference and the abstract can be viewed at: )

This was also a topic touched open in the Mozilla Open Leadership, my open project, Data Literacy Playground, has a License file with a link to the CC license that applies to the project.

The licence that I selected for the Data Literacy Playground project is more restrictive than that applied to the RITS online courses as I selected for no commercial derivatives. I chose this licence as I personally believe that it would be unfair for someone else to profit from intellectual property that I have chosen to share openly, for use by all.

In addition, when creating resources for learning and producing presentation materials I always check the licensing on the images or other media used and ensure that I have correctly cited my references, this is particularly important when creating OER and resources for wider dissemination. The initial resource deposit agreement form  the UCL OER repository initially required either sole copyright by the author or for written consent to be obtained for the use of other assets. As written consent can be difficult to obtain and a range of CC licences exist, I recommended that the agreement was changed to include materials with content from CC licences where that licence was met, this change was implemented.

This is also a topic I have actively taught in training courses for Photoshop and web design, it is important for both staff and students to have an understanding of copyright, CC licences and intellectual property rights. The rights of both staff and student vary dependent of the type of material they produce e.g. teaching materials, research outputs and coursework. It is important that they understand what they can and cannot share and why. This is also important with regards to plagiarism, including self-plagiarism and when submitting papers to academic journals, quite often re-assigning copyright to the publisher.


I am familiar with legislation that directly relates to my role, as illustrated above.  Relating to inclusion and social justice, I have recently read two books that have improved my knowledge of race relations in the UK and have caused me to queston the priviliges afforded to me by my race. Predominantly causing me to question more, and as a result I have become involved in cross-instiutional Liberating Our Curricula group ( in addition to regularly atttending UCL’s Liberating the Curriculum Forum meetings and being part of the Moodle discussion group.

A recognised core data source for learning analytics is attendance data. However, attendance monitoring systems are not always well received by students and student unions.  In 2018 Student’s Union, UCL held a referendum about a potential instituional attendance monitoring system ( With the majority of students voting against such a system. In the arguments put forward against such a system, including blog posts, were concerns around Tier 4 compliance monitoring and Prevent, and how such a system could be used for these purposes. Although, not directly relate to my role, it is important to have an understanding of these issues as they can potentially impact on teaching and learning and associated technologies. I have attended staff training on Prevent, but feel that my knowledge requirements for international students could be improved.

I believe that I have a reasonably good understanding of intellectual property rights, creative commons and copyright. However, with continually mooted changes to EU copyright legislation I know thta this is a topic on which I need to keep upto date. In particular, if possible I would like to complete the recently launched Creative Commons online course.


  1. Eddo-Lodge, R. (2017) Why I’m No Longer Talking To White Poeple About Race
  2. Kalwant, B. (2018) White Privilige