Copyright

Using Social Media under FERPA

Instructor: Della McGuire

Della has been teaching secondary and adult education for over 20 years. She holds a BS in Sociology, MEd in Reading, and is ABD on the MComm in Storytelling.

In this lesson, we will discuss how social media aligns with FERPA and special considerations that must be taken when using various technological communication platforms.

Technology is Here to Stay

A 2013 Pew Research study indicated more than 4/5 teens and 2/3 of adults use some kind of social media. These numbers would go up if we include communications by other technology, like email or text messaging. Classrooms are increasingly augmenting instruction with technology in blended learning platforms. Because of this inevitability, it's important to translate school policies into ways that accommodate advancements in technology.

Impact on FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) creates confidentiality among those records maintained by a school system. Because legislation has not kept up with technology, teachers must have some guidelines about how to use social media in the classroom in ways that can benefit from it without violating FERPA.

For example, some older movies and TV shows set in schools show a character reading their grade off of a bulletin board in the hallway with a crowd of other students around. FERPA prohibits the posting of grades publicly in this manner, and so the modern technological equivalent is to avoid posting grades online on students' social media pages or on public school websites for classroom bulletin boards or blogs.

Using Social Media

When instructors use social media to engage students and create a virtual classroom environment outside the building, it is important to be cautious about social media use to remain compliant with FERPA.

Teachers have the responsibility to set a good example for students to follow regarding internet privacy
social media

Notes

A sole possession document is a note instructors or administrators may make to themselves about a student. They are only meant to be in the possession of the creator and are not protected by FERPA. Regardless of the content of these instructor-created notes, they are not under the definition of what is considered an official student record maintained by the school.

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