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Title: MCTs and universities: new risks, new visibilities and new vulnerabilities
Authors: Howarth, A
Keywords: Mobile devices;Social media;Risks;Rights
Issue Date: 2013
Citation: IAMCR 2013 Conference Dublin, Ireland,(25-29 June 2013)
Abstract: Universities have long used new technologies to enhance teaching but mobile communication technologies (MCTs) are posing new ethical and policy challenges. The capture functions on MCTs bring considerable benefits in terms of a student being able to play back and review what was said in the teaching rooms. However, the convergence and connectivity of web 2.0 and its successors add new, as yet largely uncharted dimensions. It not only extends the classroom but also renders previously bounded teaching and residential spaces porous as anybody who has access to these rooms and a MCT can capture and open to outside scrutiny what previously would have been relatively private spaces. This has contradictory ethical implications. Abuses of power and indiscretions can be held to account before wider public opinion. However, the capture and dissemination of sensitive personal information in the form of the opinions, beliefs and ideas of students and staff can expose individuals to risk. Furthermore, the technologies also enable acceptable content to be edited and/or reformed into mashups that may not be intended to be malicious but have the potential for reputational damage. This paper explores these issues first in terms of a range of events and incidents that highlight new vulnerabilities and visibilities. It then outlines some of the policy responses in the United States in terms of cyberbullying; in the UK under data protection; and the implications of a proposed new EU directive. However, it argues, that the fundamental limitation with all of these is that ultimately the institution does not own the device and therefore its control of how it is used is limited. The paper concludes with some preliminary findings on how a handful of British universities are adopting a proactive response here.
Appears in Collections:Dept of Social Sciences Media and Communications Research Papers

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