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Asking Students to Write Online: Negotiating the Private and Public


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My presentation for the Friday luncheon for Writing Intensive Curriculum, on 27 April 2006

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Asking Students to Write Online: Negotiating the Private and Public

  1. 1. Asking Students to Write Online: Negotiating the Private and Public Michael Faris Writing Intensive Curriculum 27 April 2007
  2. 2. Some Anecdotes… <ul><li>Zachary Good, a columnist for Penn State’s student newspaper, on Facebook: “Hey everybody! I’m making t-shirts for AIDS Walk 2007 — you want in??” “We’ll all wear them one day to show everyone we care about people with AIDS! I’ll make a line dance.” (Rosser) </li></ul>
  3. 3. Some Anecdotes… <ul><li>Blogger from New York: “A message that I posted insulted a co-worker at a non-profit where I work. The non-profit suspended me from my work for three months.” (Tribble) </li></ul><ul><li>North Carolina blogger: “A TV station that I worked for […] found my writings about people at the station, from a personal standpoint and said that I had spoken to some in a (subjectively) non-flattering light. After seeing these public entries in my blog, I was fired.” (Tribble) </li></ul><ul><li>Massachusetts blogger: “Early on in my job hunt, I applied for a low-paying job and then agonized [on my blog] over whether to take it. The next day, I noticed several hits to my journal from that employer, and they never called me back. I have no way of knowing for certain, but I suspect my blog post may have cost me that job.” (Tribble) </li></ul>
  4. 4. Negotiating Privacy - Workplace <ul><li>“ [A]uthors reported having difficulty negotiating privacy boundaries under certain circumstances. The workplace is one setting where such problematic situations regularly occur. Bloggers' privacy boundaries in the workplace have yet not been clearly established, either socially or legally. [… T]his is one area of conflict that greatly affects bloggers, at times resulting in authors being fired from their jobs. It is likely that, while disagreement over what constitutes acceptable blogging material persists, bloggers will continue to be reprimanded and employers will continue to be frustrated by their employees' blogging activities.” (Tribble) </li></ul>There are similar concerns for students…
  5. 5. Students composing online <ul><li>Blackboard </li></ul><ul><li>Blogs </li></ul><ul><li>Wikis </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion boards </li></ul><ul><li>Websites </li></ul><ul><li>Emails </li></ul><ul><li>Video (YouTube or Google Video) </li></ul><ul><li>Audio (podcasting) </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook & MySpace </li></ul>
  6. 6. Reasons to publish online <ul><li>Expanded audience </li></ul><ul><li>Expand classroom outside of class walls and time </li></ul><ul><li>Heightened sense of authorship or ownership </li></ul><ul><li>Part of profession (websites, promotional material, advertising, emailing) </li></ul><ul><li>Engaging in online conversations with others outside university </li></ul><ul><li>Make coursework have more “real world” applications </li></ul><ul><li>Student as expert: make contributions to resources for other people (e.g., Wikipedia) </li></ul><ul><li>Networking </li></ul><ul><li>Motivation </li></ul>
  7. 7. Legal Issues: FERPA <ul><li>FERPA’s main goal is to protect the private records of students. </li></ul><ul><li>Its import for the classroom: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can’t disclose grades or other records </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Most universities/colleges interpret that can’t disclose if a student is in your course </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Students names online? </li></ul><ul><li>Extreme privacy needs: abuse and stalking </li></ul>
  8. 8. Concerns <ul><li>Students’ concerns: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Permanency and future jobs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Work getting copied or stolen </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Privacy concerns: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What is private? How much to share about life? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Linking to other sites (personal blog, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Photos (esp. MySpace and Facebook) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Difference between coursework and personal work </li></ul><ul><li>Flaming </li></ul><ul><li>Threats and stalking </li></ul>
  9. 9. Talk to your students <ul><li>What is appropriate? </li></ul><ul><li>How private is it? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Gated communities” (e.g., Facebook) - not so gated </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Writing about personal life </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Would you want your mom to read this? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Jobs, professional presentation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Real names? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Permanence - Google cache </li></ul><ul><li>How is online writing different from other public writing? </li></ul><ul><li>Good discussion to have even if not writing online </li></ul>
  10. 10. Sources <ul><li>“ Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).” U.S. Department of Education. 17 February 2005. 26 April 2007 <> </li></ul><ul><li>Rosser, Sarah. “Another Facebook-Related Fall.” Inside Higher Ed . 02 March 2007. 26 April 2007 <> </li></ul><ul><li>Tribble, Ivan. “Bloggers Need Not Apply.” The Chronicle of Higher Education . 8 July 2005. 26 April 2007 <> </li></ul>