Archive for Policy

Does Second Life have a place in higher education?

I have read a lot of literature about Second Life and how institutions of higher education are beginning to incorporate this into education.  It scares me a bit about opening this up to students and makes me wonder how universities will regulate this and what policies to protect the university need to be created.  How much liability will universities have if students are harrassed and what implications will this have for education?  Right now, I have more questions on this subject than I do answers.  I would love to hear from other schools who have instructors who are using this for their courses, such as how they are using it.  Does the university support this (technical support or instructional design support)?  Have instructors run into any issues in using it?

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Web site accessibility lawsuit against Target

I recently read about the outcome of the Web site accessibility lawsuit from the National Federation for the Blind (NFB) against TargetTarget settled with the NFB to pay a settlement fee to the complainants that the NFB sued on behalf of and to pay for NFB accessibility certification costs for their Web site.  Cases like these are usually taken to court on a case-by-case basis due to the fact that there are no hard-written laws about Web site accessibility of commercial organizations.  There are a lot of gray areas.  Most corporations end up settling anyway because they figure it will cost them less than going to court due to the bad publicity it will get them.  What I don’t understand is, why don’t these corporations invest the time and money to make sure their Web sites are accessible to begin with?  We live in a technological world.  The same way that you have handicap parking spaces and wheel-chair accessible entrances, you should be making accommodations to your online users as well.  For one thing it is the right thing to do regardless of what the law says, but for the ones that are only looking at the bottom line, it makes good business sense  as well.

Details about the lawsuit are available at http://www.nfbtargetlawsuit.com/ and http://www.dralegal.org/cases/private_business/nfb_v_target.php

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Social Networking in Higher Education

We are struggling with how to create policy for using social networking sites (e.g., Facebook, Ning, etc.) at our institution.  We are concerned about security, that students’ private data will be misused and how our university could be held liable.  Right now, the unofficial policy is to NOT recommend any of these tools to our faculty.  It seems to me that there should be a middle ground, a way to develop reasonable policy to protect the institution, students, and faculty and use these tools to enhance our educational institution.

I would love to hear recommendations from anyone who has addressed this issue or who might be going through the same issues and how they are approaching it.

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