Voice Comments in Google Docs: Hold the hype, what about data protection?

Screen grab of the logo and menu option

I am always on the look out for new Tech, Apps and services which will facilitate the learning and teaching process and when I read the post ‘6 Steps to add voice comments to Google Docs‘ over on the ‘www.educatorstechnology.com‘ blog I thought that this might just be the answer to a number of problems raised by academics recently, mainly around the issues of providing assessment and feedback.

In a nutshell you can add the Voice Comments to your Google Drive/Docs and simply right click on a document, select ‘Open With > Voice Comments’ and your document will be opened in the 121writing.com reader on their site and you can begin, and to be fair from the little play around I had with it it seems to be a great little tool which I can see many uses for in a wide range of education and training settings… But!

And for the UK (and probably EU) educational market it is a pretty big but!

The service is a third party one provided by learn.ly now called 121writing.com, apparently they have just changed their name (I’m not sure why?). Which wouldn’t be an issue unless they were based outside the EU… a quick search revealed they are based in Palo Alto, California… Oh!

That’s OK as long as they are signed up to the Safe Harbour agreement that’ll be fine… I’ll just check!… Oh, their not!

So where does that leave us. In short if the document being commented on or the audio you record contains any personal data or information that could personally identify an individual then ‘Voice Comments’ cannot be used. All we can do is keep an eye on the service to see if the sign up to Safe Harbour in the future.

Useful Links

Using Voice Comments with Google Docs for End of the Year Projects

6 Steps to add voice comments to Google Docs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Llv1Nh4Om0c

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