This is not the moment to debate the difference between learning and training. It is fair to say that learning is a life-long capability, whilst training simply gets you to the competence to do a particular job or task. But we do not want to get off on a tangent when we are trying to look into security rather than philosophy!
So what is online learning security about, and how, if at all, does it differ from the security of any other distance delivered educational system?
Online learning is, as we can conclude from its description, about undertaking a course of study from a ‘recognized’ institution for the purpose of obtaining a qualification that is recognized and respected by others (employers, friends, professional societies, and so on).
Now usually, in any educational system, there are fees to pay to the institution, and they determine if an award (a certificate, a degree) is appropriate. So you might conclude that there is no need to protect the information that is being used for the online learning course.
But there you would be wrong. Just as etraining courses find they need to protect information, so do the providers of online learning. There is often a confusion among providers that the actual information is publicly available (you should be truly grateful that the greatest part of educational information is out of copyright – at least 80 years after the death of the author – or has been made public and is therefore freely available) so they do not need to worry about protecting it.
However, that would be to fall into the common trap for online learning providers, that of thinking that all their information is public and must be shared, as against the assembly of the teaching information having a value of its own as distinct from the information that is long since out of copyright.
There is significant value in being able to know what actual course materials are required for a specific subject, and what are likely to be the exam questions this time around. And there is significant value in knowing how a marking scheme might be used.
So we find that online learning security requirements are very similar to those of etraining, although the providers of these services may have very different attitudes indeed as to the need for the protection of the content that they have delivered (made public) and that which they retain within the activity which they must protect because it represents their own skill and knowledge.
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For a deeper understanding of copyright, please take a look at the following white papers.