Menu Menu
OU Home  >  University Technology Services  >  Faculty and Staff Services  > Social Networking

Social Networking

Oakland University faculty may choose to use web-enabled software and social network tools in instruction.  Such tools may include alternative online learning systems, chat rooms, blogs, collaborative workspaces, wikis, and podcast/video sites.  A partial list of options is provided by ELIS.  These learning tools may offer  positive potential for engaging students in learning.  However, there may privacy concerns when an instructor chooses to use a non-Oakland University tool in instruction.

An excellent overview of the issues is presented in this Educause article by Merri Beth Lavagnino,  Chief Privacy Officer and Compliance Coordinator at Indiana University:

Lavagnino, M.B. (2010). Policy as an Enabler of Student Engagement. EDUCAUSE Review, 45, no.5: 104-105.

General Recommendations, based on the information from that article:

  1. Review Oakland University policy #860 Information Security.  Know data elements classified as confidential, particularly under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and how it applies to your course.   In particular, note if participation from people outside the enrolled class is allowed; this may be a violation of FERPA.
  2. Become familiar with the question:  Where is it stored?  Understand when you are creating and storing your course data and other information using campus information technology resources, and when you are storing data in off-campus or third-party technologies. 
  3. Note that software licenses, application service provider contracts and other agreement must follow university standard procedures, particularly as it applies to Procurement and Purchasing.
  4. Instructional materials are often protected by copyright law.  Further, some service provider agreements claim rights to use the content created or uploaded to the technology solution.  Review carefully so that you do not share intellectual property that you are not entitled to, or do not want to, share.
  5. Communicate with your students.  Make sure your students understand when they are sharing material in off-campus social networks, tools, and technologies.  Your students may be uncomfortable with such storage; determine if participation is a requirement, or if you need to have alternative plans.