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Information Security

What do you need to know for your teaching?

From teaching materials and exam papers, captured lectures and photographs of students, to records of attendance and support for student welfare, teaching activity creates a lot of information that needs to be handled securely. The University has a duty of care to safeguard information relating to our students and to ensure that teaching and learning materials are produced and shared in an appropriate way. Usually this it is just about taking extra care - asking ‘if I share this with my students do I know where it will end up next?’ or ‘does this person really need to know this about my student?’ After all, you don’t want to be the person that loses control of the information.

There are some important differences in how the law treats educational materials depending on whether they are accessible only internally within an academic context or open publicly to the world . There is a difference for example in the law around copyright which allows certain freedoms in the use materials within the privacy of the internal academic context but that could lead to legal challenge should the same materials be shared outside the university, for example on a public facing website.

Storing, sharing and preparing teaching materials:

  • Ensure you are managing your teaching materials and intellectual property effectively by storing it on University systems and not using external services such Drop Box over which the University has no legal controls.
  • Be careful how you handle information about students (including photos and video) - store these on University systems and not using external services such Drop Box/YouTube.
  • Be careful how you use research data or commercially sensitive information in your teaching – it is safest to assume anything you use will become public. Instances have occurred where unpublished research findings have been shared by students via social media which has had serious implications, e.g. breaching agreed practices with commercial research funders and there may then be Freedom of Information implications.
  • Ensure that you have appropriated permission to use materials that are not your own so as not to be in breach of copyright, including using examples of previous students’ work (undergraduate and taught postgrads hold the copyright for their assignments and essays).
  • If you are using Creative Commons licensed materials, remember that licensing can be about giving as well as taking, if you are using materials released under license that requires a “share-alike” provision then please ensure you are meeting this requirement.

Providing feedback to students:

  • Consider how you provide feedback to make sure that this is not making personal feedback available openly, e.g. it should only be visible to the individual student not all members of a tutorial group.

The administration of teaching necessitates the sharing and storage of personal information about students. Information about student progress, student grades, their home address (which may be their college) or photo, or information about students’ health and wellbeing should all be treated as personal information. Like any personal information this must only be shared with other staff if they need the information to fulfil their role and never with other students or third parties unless explicit permission has been given.

  • Do not discuss any details of a student’s case with third parties (including parents and other family members), unless prior consent has been obtained from the student or it is in the vital interest of the student or others to do so.
  • Make sure you have consent – to photograph or record students and their consent for every way you intend to repurpose this material in future. Keep a record of the consent.
  • Ensure that any student information (e.g. email addresses, photos, etc.) are not being provided to any external third parties without specific written consent and approval from the Data Protection and Records Management team.

Over the coming months we’ll provide further information on these pages on how to manage your teaching information securely, and how to get help and advice. The links below and the information links on the rest of this site are a good place to start.

Student Support - Confidentiality and Information Sharing

Third Party Enquiries about Durham Students: Guidance for staff

Data Protection: How to make decisions about an information request about a student

Curriculum Development: Student and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Data Protection: Guidance for Boards of Examiners