Rights and Responsibilities
Individual and Institutional Members
of the Community of
[This statement is based upon and developed from The Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for Electronic Learners, a model policy developed by EDUCOM and distributed and disseminated by the American Association for Higher Education.]
This statement is intended to serve as a model for educational institutions from pre-school through post-graduate. It is not expected that any institution will adopt the statement verbatim, rather it is intended to identify the rights and responsibilities that students, teachers, staff, administrators and institutions expect and accept when participating in electronic communities. The statement should be modified to reflect the unique characteristics, values, traditions, policies and mission of every institution.
The fundamental principle underlying this document are that when participating in electronic communities electronic learners must accept personal responsibility for their actions and decisions, respect the rights and interests of others within their immediate electronic community and throughout the global electronic community, and recognize the need for civility.
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In order to protect the rights and recognize the responsibilities of individuals and institutions, we, the members of the educational community, propose this statement of Rights and Responsibilities of Individual and Institutional Members of the Community of Electronic Learners. The principles set forth in this document are based on a recognition that the electronic community is a complex subsystem founded on the values espoused by the educational community. As technology plays an increasingly important role in our educational institutions at all levels and further empowers individuals, the values, potential and responsibilities it engenders will continue to influence this culture. As technology assumes an integral role in education and lifelong learning, technological empowerment of individuals and organizations is increasingly a requirement and a right for students, faculty, staff, and institutions, bringing with it new levels of responsibility that individuals and institutions have to themselves and to other members of the educational community.
ARTICLE I: INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS
The original Bill of Rights explicitly recognized that all individuals have certain fundamental rights as members of the national community. In the same way, the citizens of the electronic community of learners have fundamental rights that empower them.
A citizen's access to computing and information resources is a right. Access to computing or information resources shall not be denied or removed without just cause.
The right to access includes the right to appropriate training and tools required to effect access.
All citizens shall have the right to be informed about personal information that is being and has been collected about them, the right to review and correct that information, and the right to control the distribution of that information beyond the expressed purpose of its collection.
The constitutional right to freedom of speech applies to citizens of electronic communities just as it does to citizens of other communities.
All citizens of the electronic community of learners have ownership rights over their own intellectual works.
ARTICLE II: INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITIES
Just as certain rights are given to each citizen of the electronic community of learners, each citizen is held accountable for his or her actions and decisions. The interplay of rights and responsibilities within each individual and within the community engenders the trust and intellectual freedom that form the heart of our society. This trust and freedom is grounded on each person's developing the skills and moral commitment necessary to be an active and contributing citizen in the electronic community. These skills include an awareness and knowledge about information technology and the uses of information and an understanding of the roles in the electronic community of learners.
It shall be each citizen's personal responsibility to actively pursue needed resources: to recognize when information is needed and be able to find, evaluate, and effectively use information.
It shall be each citizen's personal responsibility to recognize (attribute) and honor the intellectual property of others.
Since the electronic community of learners is based upon the integrity of all information, it shall be each citizen's personal responsibility to be aware of the potential for and possible effects of manipulating electronic information: to understand the fungible nature of electronic information and verify the integrity
and completeness of information that he or she compiles or uses.
Each citizen, as a member of the electronic community of learners, is responsible to all other citizens in that community: to respect and value the rights of privacy for all; to recognize and respect the diversity of the population and opinion in the
community; to behave ethically; and to comply with legal restrictions regarding the use of information resources.
Each citizen, as a member of the electronic community of learners, is responsible to the community as a whole to understand what information technology resources are available; to remember that the members of the community share these resources; and to refrain from all acts that waste, prevent or limit others from using these resources.
ARTICLE III: RIGHTS OF EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
Educational institutions have legal standing similar to that of individuals. Our society depends upon educational institutions to assist individuals in becoming educated, moral and productive citizens and to advance the development of knowledge. However, in order to survive, educational institutions must attract financial and human resources. Therefore, society must grant these institutions the rights to the electronic resources and information necessary to accomplish their goals.
Educational institutions' access to computing resources and information is a right rather than a privilege. Access to computing resources and information shall not be denied or removed without just cause.
Educational institutions in the electronic community of learners have ownership rights over the intellectual works they create.
Educational institutions have the right to allocate resources throughout their academic community in line with their unique institutional missions.
ARTICLE IV: INSTITUTIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES
Just as certain rights are assured to educational institutions in the electronic community of learners, so too each is held accountable for the appropriate exercise of those rights to foster the values of society and to carry out each institution's mission. This interplay of rights and responsibilities within the community fosters
the creation and maintenance of an environment wherein trust and intellectual freedom are the foundation for individual and institutional growth and success.
The institutional members of the electronic community of learners have a responsibility to provide all members of their community with legally acquired computer resources (hardware, software, networks, data bases, etc.) in all instances where access to or use of the resources is an integral part of active participation in the electronic community of learners.
Institutions have a responsibility to develop, implement, and maintain security procedures sufficient to insure the integrity of individual and institutional files.
The institution shall treat electronically stored information as confidential. The institution shall treat all personal files as confidential, examining or disclosing the contents only when authorized by the owner of the information, approved by the appropriate institutional official, or required by local, state or federal law.
Institutions in the electronic community of learners shall train and support faculty, staff, and students to effectively use information technology. Training includes skills necessary to use the resources, knowledge of the existence of data repositories
and techniques for using them, and an understanding of the ethical and legal uses of and responsibility for the resources.