Data protection intervention for student teacher placement planning folders

In recent years, and particularly in the wake of Covid-19, there has been an increasing need to develop digital formats for student work placement portfolios. Some placements, like teacher training in schools, carry additional data protection and privacy challenges. At UHI, institutional platforms and services are carefully vetted and implemented, with policies and systems in place to ensure the security and compliance of data processing within the University’s learning and teaching domains. However, such systems are generally designed to prohibit access by external parties or use outside of authorised domains. This can be problematic when students are required to gather, store and share evidence of their experiences beyond institutional boundaries. This challenge brought about the design and development of a new digital literacy initiative, to allow the use of UHI’s Microsoft OneDrive service to gather and share portfolio evidence during student placements.

To make the new arrangement possible, students would only be permitted to share their OneDrive portfolio externally with designated individuals. This access would usually be restricted to their designated supervisor within the school placement. There would also need to be a targeted data protection awareness intervention for students prior to placement. Although this would cover some foundational data protection concepts, this would not equate to generic GDPR training. The curriculum would instead be tailored to the distinct nature of this personal data challenge. The aim would be to prevent any personally identifiable information from being gathered and stored outside of the school environment. This would require students to understand the scope and complexity of what can be defined as personal data, and apply appropriate data minimising techniques to document their experiences.

The three-part solution was developed by Liz Hudson and Carolin Radtke of the Educational Development Unit, and Data Protection Officer James Nock, in consultation with the PGDE academic team at UHI. The initiative comprises:

· a participative virtual session to introduce the curriculum and supporting resources;

· an interactive digital resource to cover the core curriculum: https://showcase.uhi.ac.uk/previews/data-protection-for-student-teacher-placement-records/; and

· an interactive guide to using Microsoft OneDrive as the portfolio solution: https://induction.uhi.ac.uk/School_Planning_Folder_OneDrive_guide/

Unlike generic data protection training, this curriculum explores the concept of actors and domains, and emphasises the proactive and reactive behaviours students need to demonstrate to remain compliant as both UHI students and professionals on placement. This initiative plays a part in demonstrating UHI’s compliance with GDPR and develops students’ digital literacy in an increasingly challenging area of professional practice.

Please note that the guidance given in the documents is written to apply to the UHI context, which may be different to your own.