Throughout your time using Aula, whether you're an educator preparing module materials or a student working on coursework, you'll probably want to share a file like a Word document or a PDF in Aula.

Uploading directly to Aula

If you have a file saved on your computer, you can upload it directly to Aula by clicking the + button in Aula's editor, then File > My Computer. This will insert the file where you specified. You can upload a variety of file types from your computer.

Who can see this file?

  • If you post a file in the Community Feed, anyone in your space (module, course community) can see it.
  • If you post a file in a group or private message, the other participants of that message can see it.
  • If you upload a file as an assessment submission, only the module team can see it.
  • A person you've shared the file with could share it with another person.

Files uploaded to Aula are securely stored in Aula's cloud storage, which is hosted in the EU/EEA. These files are not published on a public web page.

When the file is uploaded, a complex, obfuscated link is created to the file and the link is shared with the target audience. The links can't be guessed by a human or even a very powerful computer. However, you should be aware that any individual who has the link -- whether they were the person uploading the file, or if they received it in the feed, group or message -- could then choose to share that link with someone else. This would be a conscious act and is conceptually the same as receiving a file by email attachment and then choosing to share it with someone else.

If you didn't give them permission to do that, this act typically violates your university's IT code of conduct and is not allowed. However, some bad actors can still break the rules.

Using Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, or Dropbox

You can use a cloud storage drive like Google Drive, OneDrive, or Dropbox easily with Aula. The benefit of using a tool like OneDrive is that you don't have to worry about losing your work, as it's stored in your university's cloud storage account. You can also access these files from any device through your OneDrive account.

To share a cloud file in Aula, click the + button in Aula's editor, then File, and click the provider. If it's your first time uploading a cloud document, you'll be asked for consent to use that cloud provider with Aula. This gives the Aula application permission to display your cloud file in Aula. It does not give any other user permission to see files in your cloud drive, unless you've explicitly shared them. You can read more about Aula's OneDrive integration here.

Understanding cloud file permissions

  • As the owner of a cloud file, you also have more settings when it comes to granting permission to see the file. You can share with specific people, or you can make the file public so anyone with a link can see it. Depending on the service you use, you may also be able to prevent printing or copies of the file from being made. These depend on the service and can be found in the documentation.

🔗 OneDrive file sharing and permissions

🔗 Google Drive file sharing and permissions

🔗 Dropbox file sharing and permissions

Who can see this file in Aula?

  • You can control granular permissions for the file. See the section above.
  • If you post a file in the Community Feed, anyone in your space (module, course community) can see that you've posted it, but you need to make sure the sharing settings are correct.
  • If you post a file in a group or private message, the other participants of that message can see that you've posted it, but you need to make sure the sharing settings are correct.
  • If you upload a file as an assessment submission, only the module team can see it, but you need to make sure the sharing settings are correct.
  • A person you've shared the file with could share it with another person. They'll only be able to see the file if the sharing permissions allow them.

Aula and your university's IT Code of Conduct

As part of your student contract or staff contract, you likely signed an IT Code of Conduct or an acceptable use policy. Additionally, Aula has Terms of Service which outline acceptable use of Aula.

These agreements are there for your protection and require you to comply with local and federal laws and university policy. Most agreements include a clause that forbids unauthorised sharing of files (without someone's permission). GDPR also forbids you from sharing certain types of personal data without someone's consent. When sharing files online, keep these policies in mind. If someone shares a file with only you, it's not okay to share the file with another person unless you ask permission first.

Violating these policies may result in disciplinary action from your university.

What about GDPR?

GDPR is a data protection law that protects personal data of people living in the EU. You can read more about GDPR on the official website. GDPR and data security are similar topics and often talked about together. However, GDPR does not apply to file sharing in general. It does apply if the files you share contain personal data.

  • A file contains lecture materials about soil classifications in the UK. This includes guides and documentation from LandIS and other government agencies, but you developed the content yourself. GDPR does not apply to this file, because it does not contain personal data.
  • You have an Excel sheet with student names and phone numbers in order to organise an experiment off campus. GDPR does apply to this file, because it contains personal data.

Even though GDPR doesn't apply to files like lecture materials, you probably still want to share them securely. Follow the guidance above to make the choice on how you want to share.

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