Instructional Technology/Legal Issues


Legal issues in instructional technology are becoming more and more relevant as technology becomes more prevalent for delivering instruction. Potential legal issues include but are not limited to, freedom of speech, harassment, privacy, special education, plagiarism, copyright and fair use.


As the profession of Instructional Technology grows and expands in the digital era, there is an increase for potential problem and/or conflict areas. Reiser & Dempsey (2002) enumerate the following issues as possible legal areas of concern:

    • Failure to develop and offer training which is mandated by the government can result in litigation initiated by the government.
    • Taking material from the internet without getting consent, thereby violating copyright laws or intellectual property rights.
    • Lawsuits resulting from comments made or material handed out during a training that are discriminatory (based on age, sex, race, ethnicity, etc).
    • The injury of a trainee or employee who received the injury during a training if the training personnel were negligent in providing a safe training environment.
    • Injury due to missing or incorrect information received by training materials.
    • Possible lawsuits due to employees feeling that they were kept from promotions because they were denied access to the training which is necessary for the promotion.

Richard & Dempsey (2002) conclude that, "although we do not expect designer's to be legal experts, each needs to be aware of general laws (e.g., those pertaining to sexual harassment) and the laws governing specific industries (e.g., those pertaining to the discharge of pollutants)." (p. 207).

Richey, R. C., & Morrison, G. R. (2002). Instructional design in business and industry. In Reiser, R.A., & Dempsey, J.V. (eds.), Trends and issues in instructional design and technology (p.207). Columbus, Ohio: Merrill Prentice Hall.

ISTE National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators edit

SOCIAL, LEGAL, AND ETHICAL ISSUES. Educational leaders understand the social, legal, and ethical issues related to technology and model responsible decision-making related to these issues. Educational leaders:

  1. ensure equity of access to technology resources that enable and empower all learners and educators.
  2. identify, communicate, model, and enforce social, legal, and ethical practices to promote responsible use of technology.
  3. promote and enforce privacy, security, and online safety related to the use of technology.
  4. promote and enforce environmentally safe and healthy practices in the use of technology.
  5. participate in the development of policies that clearly enforce copyright law and assign ownership of intellectual property developed with district resources.

These standards can be found on the following website:

Similar standards have been published for teachers. These standards might be important part of legal issues.

ISTE Educational Technology Standards and Performance Indicators for All Teachers edit

Teachers understand the social,ethical,legal,and human issues surrounding the use of technology in PK-12 schools and apply those principles in practice. Teachers:

  1. model and teach legal and ethical practice related to technology use.
  2. apply technology resources to enable and empower learners with diverse backgrounds, characteristics, and abilities.
  3. identify and use technology resources that affirm diversity
  4. promote safe and healthy use of technology resources.
  5. facilitate equitable access to technology resources for all students.

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