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  • Writer's pictureSCOTLIN

(en)lightening talk with Janis Wong - 26 August

On the 26th of August (h. 14.00-15.00), Janis Wong (St Andrews) will present on Online Learning as a Commons: Supporting the co-creation of data protection solutions through a collaborative digital environment


COVID-19 meant that UK higher education institutions had to implement online teaching models overnight, without time for due consideration of appropriate data protection practices or impact assessments. This not only affects students’ and staff’s university experience, but also how their institution processes their personal data as data subjects under the General Data Protection Regulation. As lecture capture, tutorial recording, and educational surveillance become implemented and, in many cases, mandatory, students and staff may less willingly participate in classes, creating a chilling effect on education. The GDPR offers solutions such as applying fairness and transparency principles and exercising data subject rights. However, this is insufficient where data subjects have no choice but to accept their institutions’ terms or be locked out of academia, the lack of consideration of group rights under the GDPR, and the power imbalances between data subjects and their institutions.

Given data subjects’ lack of autonomy over their online learning personal data, we introduce a data protection-focused data commons, a collaborative space for resource sharing and contribution to support data subjects’ personal data preferences. We develop and test an application for existing educational platforms that accounts for best practices for tutorial recording, learning analytics, and educational technology. We will discuss our preliminary results for this study by measuring the data protection-focused data commons’ effectiveness for encouraging the co-creation of better data protection solutions in relation to their privacy awareness and attitudes towards online learning technologies. Finally, we demonstrate how a commons can balance the implementation of educational technologies with the need to deliver online learning to benefit student’s and staff’s academic experience.

Participation is free, but registration is mandatory. You can register here.

Janis is a PhD researcher in Computer Science at the University of St Andrews. She is interested in the legal and technological applications in privacy, data protection, and ethics. Her doctoral research aims to create a data protection-focused data commons to support co-creating data protection solutions according to individual data subject preferences, applied to areas such as data archiving, education, and research ethics. She holds a Bachelor of Laws from the London School of Economics. To find out more about her work, please visit her website:

The event will be moderated by Katherine Nolan.

Katherine is a PhD researcher and part-time teacher at the London School of Economics. Her doctoral research focuses on the role of the individual in EU data protection law, and the assumptions about the capabilities and status of the individual within EU data protection law. More broadly, she is interested in digital rights, information technology law and EU law. She is a graduate of University College Dublin, the University of Oxford, University of California, Berkeley, and a qualified solicitor in the Republic of Ireland.

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