[Air-L] policies on students and social media platforms

Ravindra N. Mohabeer mohabeerlists at gmail.com
Wed Nov 7 16:35:26 PST 2012

Hi Holly,

I was surprised to discover that we have a (longwinded) policy on responsibilities when requiring students to use social media for class purposes - and another one that is rather cruder with regard to posting on the university social media feeds.


While I haven't read the document fully, despite me working in digital/media studies, I don't recall it being circulated nor do I recall being consulted in any way so it's new to me. The gist of it seems to be based in privacy issues and only meanders through ethics.

The one thing that seems missing (or I missed it) is the notion of 'official personas' which pervades a pet peeve of mine that my university doesn't provide student's with an official university email address despite requiring us to contact them via email relatively regularly. This presents a whole host of problems when students either through selective anonymity or a lack of awareness don't 'sign' their correspondence. The flip side of it, of course, is that the policy doesn't instruct or restrict faculty on the use of their own personal social media accounts as a means by which to correspond with students. 

The individual wishes for privacy of individual faculty aside, this becomes tricky when there is a departmental Facebook group administered by a faculty member using a personal account. While to me this seems absurd, having no policy on it I am left to object to quizzical looks from colleagues who don't recognize any fault in having one's personal social media account be an 'official' point of access for students thereby reflecting the department and university as a whole. I think Marj's policy statement addresses that part much better.

As an aside, despite the fact that it might seem ridiculous to say that 'breaking copyright law is unlawful,' from my own experience taking students through the machinations of academic dishonesty recriminations, most students don't think about copyright as a law that is punishable outside of the university. It might look silly to add that bit but it's increasingly important to highlight that to students (and often even faculty) who don't know.

Hope this helps. 

Ravindra N. Mohabeer, PhD
Media Studies
Vancouver Island University
Nanaimo, BC  CANADA
ravindra.mohabeer at viu.ca

On 2012-11-07, at 1:25 PM, Holly Kruse <holly.kruse at gmail.com> wrote:

> I've volunteered to spearhead a department initiative to draft an
> ethics document. Part of it would involve whether it's okay to require
> students to have or use online presences on social network sites or
> blogging platform for class. I have my own complicated feelings about
> this (which are rather site-specific and related to privacy controls
> and other factors), but I'm wondering if there are any academic
> departments out there that have grappled with this issue and have
> policies about it.
> Thanks,
> Holly
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