• Amanda Major replied to the topic FERPA in the forum Share an Effective Practice 7 years, 3 months ago

    Hi Otis,

    Using social media is a great way for faculty to engage students, as it is undoubtedly part of our culture. Students increasingly socialize and network through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, SnapChat, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, and other social media platforms on a consistent basis. Why not meet students where they are–right?!?

    Faculty should strive to comply with FERPA when using social media for instruction. While protecting students’ privacy and access to educational records under FERPA, a faculty member can require that students have a social media presence for their online course. To ensure students privacy, I would recommend allowing students to create aliases, dissuading students from sharing personal information and course information, and create private forums whenever possible. It is also imperative that faculty refrain from grading students work via social media.

    Drake (2014) encourages faculty members to play by the FERPA rules in their use of social media in his Educause article “Is Your Use of Social Media FERPA Compliant?” ([url][/url]).
    [blockquote]When using Twitter, Facebook, or other social platforms, never reveal information about students that might indicate their grades, course enrollments, class schedules, and so on. Doing so could be noted as a FERPA violation if called out by the student. We must realize what is and is not subject to “inspect and review” regarding our actions with others and students. Any document or communication (digital or not) that is considered an educational record for purposes of FERPA is subject to the ‘inspect and review’ privilege by the student.[/blockquote]

    Additionally, Orlando (2011) provides some common sense policy suggestions in his Faculty Focus article “FERPA and Social Media” ([url][/url]). These are some general suggestions for faculty to incorporate social media into their instruction:
    – Let students know that what they post outside the LMS may be viewed by others and to take caution.
    – Do not require students to share personal information.
    – Avoid providing grade related comments or grades publicly.
    I would only add to Orlando’s bulleted list that faculty should allow an optional, comparable assignment for students who reject the idea of participating in social media. There is no harm in playing it safe.

    Distance education outside the LMS has the propensity to become public, and, therefore, at risk of FERPA violations. I, too, would definitely like to hear more about other’s personal experience relating to students’ privacy and access to their records when using social media for instruction.