Core area 3: The wider context

Candidates should demonstrate their awareness of and engagement with wider issues that inform their practice.

Candidates must cover at least one legislative area and either a second legislative area or a policy area. That is you need to cover a minimum of two areas, at least one of which must be legislative.

a) Understanding and engaging with legislation, policies and standards

Statements here should show how relevant legislation, has influenced your work. You are not expected to have expert knowledge of all of these areas, but are expected to be aware of how they relate to your current practice. In the UK you would be expected to demonstrate how you work within the context of relevant legislation such as:

  • Accessibility including special educational needs
  • Intellectual property (IPR)
  • Freedom of Information (if you work for a public body)
  • Data protection.
  • Child protection
  • Anti-discrimination law
  • Points Based Immigration System (PBIS)
  • Other related examples

In your country there may be different requirements, and you should indicate this in your portfolio. It is suggested that you pick at least two areas to discuss.

As someone interested in open educational practices I’ve held a long interest in copyright legislation. As ALT supports the OER conferences and Open Education Special Interest Group there have been a number of opportunities to keep up-to-date with legislative issues like KEEP LINK FREE and develop an understanding or instruments like Creative Commons licencing. Specifically within the learning and teaching context it has been useful to track how institutions like the University of Edinburgh and Glasgow Caledonian University are adopting OER policies and how these policies are being implemented.

As part of my role at ALT I’ve been leading on the adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for our operations. I’ve used a number of different resources to engage with this area and disseminate my understanding to our team and wider community. This work began with a discussion with one of our Trustees, Bella Abrams, who was implementing the GDPR in her college. Another key resource has been reading and implementing guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office website. To gain access to expert knowledge and discussion I joined the DATA-PROTECTION Jiscmail list. I’ve also supported the dissemination of information regarding the GDPR to our staff team in a dedicated training session and ongoing engagement in GDPR issues as part of our weekly team meetings. In terms of wider dissemination I organised a GDPR webinar series with guest speakers specifically looking at the GDPR in a learning/teaching context, which included a session with Gavin Henrick and Martin Dougiamas from Moodle which was attended over 100 people. I’ve also authored several blog posts designed to help developers understand the implications and actions they need to talk regarding the GDPR. These posts have been further disseminated via a talk at Google Cloud Next ’18 in San Francisco.

An area I’ve recently been exploring which combines copyright legislation and data protection is the use and development of facial recognition.  As part of my Domain19 talk I highlighted how ‘fair use’ legislation allows companies like IBM to mine data from sites like Flickr regardless of the licencing or individual photos. As part of this talk I also looked at the legislative powers of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the Surveillance Camera Commissioner (SCC), and the Biometrics Commissioner (BC).



Learning about a new legislative area, particularly one as complicated as the GDPR, has been very rewarding. As GDPR is not a learning and teaching specific piece of legislation it means not only is their a diverse range of resources to learn from but a wide range of people on a similar journey. As organisations come to terms with the realities of the GDPR it has been an opportunity to help others engage more with data and some of the associated implications like privacy and ethics. Through the work of ALT we also have evidence of having a positive impact more widely and there have been a number of occasions where we have been the first organisation to ask GDPR related questions to our suppliers and subsequently support them in having the appropriate instruments in place to work with us in a compliant way. 

Having an interest in an emerging technology like facial recognition has also been a useful opportunity to learn more about certain legislative areas. For example, whilst I had a broad understanding of copyright legislation and Creative Commons licensing through my interest in facial recognition and the use of machine learning as part of this I was able to learn more about ‘fair use’ legislation.       

b) Policy

You are not obliged to address this area so long as you have addressed at least two legislative areas. Examples of policy issues you may address include:

In the previous section I have covered two legislative areas, copyright and data protection.