FERPA and Social Media in Education

Was really wishing that I could have been in attendance at this session at #ELI2011 in Washington D .C. today. Titled: “Bag It and Tag It”: Implementing a Course-Level Learning Portfolio Using CMS-Based Tools to Document Student Learning When Teaching in Wild, Open Spaces with Cloud-Based Tools,” by Kelvin Thompson of UCF.

A couple of tweets drew my attention to the session:

bwatwoodFERPA = dark cloud over using blogs w students #eli2011

tedcurran: why NOT teach in the free cloud? 1) can’t preserve the work! 2) FERPA3) Socialmediaphobia #cmsfolio #eli2011

Based on the session description, it appears that Thompson was providing ways of using Web 2.0 and social media tools in a “FERPA-friendly” way. Hallelujah for that. There’s been way too much FUD surrounding how these things impact upon FERPA.

The single best piece of writing that I’ve seen on this topic comes from John Orlando in a Faculty Focus article titled: “FERPA and Social Media.” I highly recommend that you check it out. Here’s an excerpt.

“FERPA is one of the most misunderstood regulations in education. It is commonly assumed that FERPA requires all student coursework to be kept private at all times, and thus prevents the use of social media in the classroom, but this is wrong. FERPA does not prevent instructors from assigning students to create public content as part of their course requirements.”

3 Responses

  1. Barry, I agree with you that the Faculty Focus article has been the best article about FERPA and social media. Thanks for passing it along to even more folks.

    I also agree that we need to share the FERPA friendly ways to use the media and to keep pressing the point that having work in the open is not a “bad” thing as long as you communicate clearly what expectations and responsibilities you have as the instructor and what they have as the students which is part of good teaching, no matter what tool is being utilized in the class.

  2. I agree with both of you, it is too bad that FERPA has this cloud over the use of social media in education. The sky is the limit when it comes to engaging online and that really needs to be taken into consideration when designing courses. I think one of the largest problems with FERPA is ignorance. Very few people are familiar enough with what FERPA guidelines include to be able to make the distinction as to what student-generated content can be put in the cloud.

    In short, there needs to be more meaningful trainings for faculty/administrators/instructional designers on the contents of FERPA and how it can be used in CONJUNCTION with online education, not AGAINST it.

  3. Thanks for passing this along! I had not seen, and it is a great, simple, straightforward view of FERPA and social media.

    The FUD around FERPA is, indeed, alarming. We all need to do a better job communicating these issues to faculty and administrators and disentangling the myth from the reality.

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