Friending and Footprints: Privacy and Ethical Issues of Facebook Use in Higher Education (Elearn 2013)


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Abstract: Facebook has increasingly been used as a pedagogical tool in the higher education classroom, attractive to many instructors because of its learner-centered, social orientation. However, using Facebook to support learning also brings ethical and privacy issues to the forefront. For example, instructors and students need to consider who friends whom and what types of personal information should be shared between instructors and their students. In this article, we review the literature and explore the efficacy of using Facebook in as a learning tool in higher education, discuss the issues related to ethical use and integration of the social media tool, and highlight privacy concerns. We recommend the development of clear guidelines to assist faculty who wish to use Facebook as part of their teaching practice.

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Friending and Footprints: Privacy and Ethical Issues of Facebook Use in Higher Education (Elearn 2013)

  1. 1. Friending and Footprints: Privacy and Ethical Issues of Facebook Use in Higher Education Vanessa P Dennen . Kerry J. Burner Florida State University Presentation at Elearn 2013 – Las Vegas, NV Contact:
  2. 2. Facebook is Everywhere
  3. 3. The Excitement I’ll have my students blog and tweet … We’ll use Facebook, too … I’ll reach the digital natives …
  4. 4. The Problem This assignment makes me uncomfortable Gonna Google you before I hire you
  5. 5. Why Use Facebook? —  Learner-centered —  Already being used —  Convenient —  Motivational
  6. 6. A moment of caution We’re not saying to not use Facebook, but that one should take a moment to think about the risks and benefits before diving in.
  7. 7. Convenience It would be convenient to push course updates to students in their ticker, but do people really want the reminder when engaged in social and leisure activities?
  8. 8. Facebook & Learner Motivation Evidence that questions the claim that learners are motivated to use FB for courses: —  Students act out of agency rather than generational destiny (Jones & Healing, 2010) —  Students use different technologies in personal lives than in classroom (Margaryan, Littlejohn & Vogt, 2011). —  Social and school-based computing have different means/ends
  9. 9. Informal vs Formal School Use Informal —  Students choose to integrate FB with school experiences by using it to share course information, provide emotional support and perform academic identity (Selwyn, 2009). Formal —  Fewer than ¼ of their students wanted to use Facebook to support formal learning activities (Prescott, Wilson & Becket, 2013). —  Students using Elgg online social network for a course focused on graded activities, not social networking (Veletsianos & Navarrete, 2012)
  10. 10. What is Facebook? —  A network —  A communication tool —  An identity performance space
  11. 11. Facebook Identity A collection of profile photos, sharing different parts of life – mom, wife, professional, playful. Although we perform identity differently with different groups, on Facebook it is a unified identity performance.
  12. 12. Who’s Connected to Me Me Mom College Friend Great Aunt Sally High School Friend Friends of Friends Student Colleague Acquaintance Former Student Facebook is whole-network focused. It requires major effort to maintain separate Facebook identities for family, different groups of friends, classmates, colleagues, etc.
  13. 13. Instructors and students need help! The goal: Make Facebook a space in which no course-related discomfort occurs.
  14. 14. Where are the guidelines? In the United States … —  FERPA governs what student information may be shared by instructors and institutions —  IRBs have oversight on research —  Who monitors online sharing and risk in the classroom?
  15. 15. Two Big Issues —  Digital Footprints —  Friending
  16. 16. Digital Footprint Dilemma —  Students who already have a Facebook account / digital footprint are being asked to consider it as a learning space in addition to a social one —  Students who do not already have an account are being asked to create one and leave a digital footprint
  17. 17. Digital Footprint Dilemma Options: —  Create new account under real name —  Problem: Must now leave digital footprint —  Create new (or second) account under fictitious name —  Problem: Violates Facebook’s terms of service —  Opt out —  Problem: Student is excluded from part of learning experience
  18. 18. Friending Dilemma —  Is it acceptable for professors and students to be friends? —  At what point? —  Who should initiate the friending? —  What would be awkward interactions between professor and student friends?
  19. 19. Solution? Adjust Settings —  Facebook is a rapidly evolving technological environment —  Privacy settings are complex —  Privacy settings are not entirely within a user’s control
  20. 20. Solution? Self-censor —  Can leave individuals stifled —  Personal comfort and appropriateness may be fluid concepts
  21. 21. Privacy and Facebook —  Half of all users struggle with privacy setting (Madden, 2012) —  15% of traditional college student age group has posted content they later regret (Madden, 2012) —  There are high levels of discrepancy between actual and desired settings (Madejski, Johnson & Bellovin, 2012) —  Privacy protecting behavior is most common among people who have already had a negative experience (Christofides, Muise & Desmarais, 2012)
  22. 22. A call for guidelines —  Clarify when and how Facebook may be used in class —  Provide alternate and equivalent options for students who opt out —  Provide guidance on other issues such as: —  Friending and unfriending —  Tagging —  Discussing class related topics on Facebook
  23. 23. Thank you for attending. —  Questions? —  Thoughts or experiences you would like to share? Contact info:
  24. 24. References (1 of 2) —  Christofides, E., Muise, A., & Desmarais, S. (2012). Risky disclosures on Facebook: The effect of having a bad experience on online behavior. Journal of Adolescent Research, 27(6), 714-731. doi: 10.1177/0743558411432635 —  Jones, C., & Healing, G. (2010). Net generation students: Agency and choice and the new technologies. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(5), 344-356. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2010.00370.x —  Madden, M. (2012). Privacy management on social media sites. Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. —  Madejski, M., Johnson, M., & Bellovin, S. M. (2012). A study of privacy setting errors in online social network. Paper presented at the Fourth International Workshop on Security and Social Networking, Lugano, Switzerland.
  25. 25. References (2 of 2) —  Margaryan, A., Littlejohn, A., & Vojt, G. (2011). Are digital natives a myth or reality? University students’ use of digital technologies. Computers & Education, 56(2), 429-440. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu. 2010.09.004 —  Prescott, J., Wilson, S., & Becket, G. (2013). Facebook use in the learning environment: Do students want this? Learning, Media and Technology, 1-6. doi: 10.1080/17439884.2013.788027 —  Selwyn, N. (2009). Faceworking: Exploring students' education‐ related use of Facebook. Learning, Media and Technology, 34(2), 157-174. doi: 10.1080/17439880902923622 —  Veletsianos, G., & Navarrete, C. (2012). Online social networks as formal learning environments: Learner experiences and activities. The International Review Of Research In Open And Distance Learning, 13(1), 144-166.