Magazine article Technology & Learning

Pop Quiz: Is Digital Information Protected by Privacy Law?

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Pop Quiz: Is Digital Information Protected by Privacy Law?

Article excerpt

The use of social media is becoming a tricky ethical business. Here are some tips schools can use:

* School officials must be extremely careful in how they obtain protected information that they believe they have a right to know. Teachers should not coerce employees or students to provide passwords or use fake "friend requests" to try to access an employee's or a student's private pages.

* Administrators and faculty must be more careful when becoming "friends" with employees, students, or parents in cyberspace. Online information and opinions, even if posted on a personal profile, can lead to claims of harassment, discrimination, and other legal issues.

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* No single approach will apply to all situations. Some schools may opt to ban access to social media at school outright as well as prohibit "friending" parents, students, and other employees. Others may simply forbid employees to identify their school online. Schools may have to recognize, however, that a blanket prohibition simply isn't practical.

* All schools should have social-networking policies. A computer-use policy that simply bans personal use and declares that users should not expect privacy is not enough. While it is tempting to ban social networking altogether, it may be difficult or impossible to enforce this rule, particularly as schools take advantage of the opportunities presented by the use of social media in education. …

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