Social Media Use in the Classroom

Are you an instructor who integrates social media as part of your curriculum? Are students required to participate using services like Facebook and Twitter? While FERPA does not specifically cover social media communications created for educational purposes, please keep  in mind the following best practices to help students understand what is expected of them, as well as to help ensure any records that are actually protected under FERPA are not inadvertently shared online.

  1. Be transparent with students on your syllabus on what is required. With disclosure upfront, students are given fair notice and can decide if it makes sense for them to continue with the course.
  2. Allow students to create alias accounts if they are uncomfortable with using their personal social media accounts.
  3. Be careful not to inadvertently disclose any FERPA protected records or information online, such as grades, courses, and schedules. Sharing student records and information would be a violation of the University’s FERPA Policy.
  4. If students share privacy concerns since all well-know social media platforms collect and use personal data, please to your best to be helpful and direct them to guidance related to the service’s privacy settings.
    1. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/help/325807937506242 
    2. Twitter: https://help.twitter.com/en/safety-and-security#ads-and-data-privacy 
    3. Instagram: https://www.facebook.com/help/instagram/196883487377501
    4. SnapChat: https://support.snapchat.com/en-US/a/privacy-settings2

In addition to considering these privacy best practices, it may also be helpful to review the University’s Social Media Policy which establishes  standards when communicating using social media accounts directly affiliated with the community.