Creating a legal framework for mobile learning

Mobile Learning, Data Protection, and Copyright in the EU: A policy report by the Vodafone Institute and iRights.lab investigates the legal aspects of using mobile devices in classrooms.

Mobile learning is on the rise in classrooms across the EU and debate over the benefits and challenges of this new educational technology are ongoing. However, a crucially important consideration in the debate is being routinely overlooked – the legal implications of mobile learning.

Are the devices and the programs that run on them being used legally? How is content made available on mobile devices? Is student data being processed in compliance with the law?

These questions are difficult to answer, not least because no comprehensive legal framework around mobile learning exists – and creating the legal parameters within which mobile learning can operate in Europe is anything but easy. From the vastly different school systems and education laws in EU Member States to the extensive autonomy that empowers EU school systems, addressing the legality of mobile education is a daunting task – and yet it is also a prerequisite for the use of mobile technology in the classroom.

This report seeks to identify the major legal implications of mobile learning in Europe, analyze the resulting consequences, and formulate initial recommendations for an improved legal framework.

Some of the key recommendations resulting from the extensive research carried out in the composition of this report include:

  • Providing legal guidance through an improved information resource structure for schools, parents, and in particular, teachers and school administrators
  • Promoting and supporting the use of Open Education Resources (OER) and conversely discouraging the use of closed ‘ecosystems’ for mobile learning in order to safeguard the quality and diversity of mobile learning offerings
  • Improving schools’ IT expertise and resources
  • And encouraging the effective protection of privacy and personal data via the development of privacy and data protection compliant concepts

With this report, The Vodafone Institute for Society and Communication and iRights.Lab intend to provide the necessary groundwork for continued research and discussion around the legality of mobile learning. Ultimately, with a clearer understanding of these issues, governments and schools will be empowered to usher mobile technology into classrooms with confidence and security.