Office of the Provost
Office of the Provost
While social media tools like Facebook, blogging tools, and wikis offer exciting possibilities for teaching and learning, the public nature of social media affects their potential for educational use. Accordingly, this document provides guidelines for best practices in the appropriate use of social media and lists considerations instructors should take into account in adopting them for educational use at the University of Southern Mississippi.
First and foremost, instructors need to be aware that many social media tools are offered within the “protected” environment provided via university-recognized means. Current university-recognized software applications include Canvas, the university course management system through Eagle Learning Online, Turnitin, the university’s academic plagiarism detector, and web-based course materials, such as MyMathLab.
Canvas, Turnitin and MyMathLab all offer student discussion boards and safe ways for students to submit assignments.
Whenever possible, instructors should use the social media tools offered within university-recognized modalities as opposed to those offered by sites external to the university. (For more information about the potential offered through Canvas, contact the Office of Online Learning).
For more information about Turnitin, please contact the Office of Institutional Effectiveness.
In addition to Canvas, the other appropriate avenue for electronic communication of official class information between instructors and individual students is email, with instructors expected to use their @usm.edu addresses. Faculty members also need to be aware that Blackboard and other university-sanctioned course tools provide mechanisms for archiving course content, whereas such is not necessarily the case with social media tools.
For instructors who choose to use external social media sites, however, some suggested best practices are as follows:
Instructor use of social media services for non-educational purposes should be consistent with overall university guidelines and employee policies.
Given the wealth of personal information subscribers may post to Facebook, the platform offers special challenges to instructors in their dealings with students.
Some best practices for this service (one that could serve as an example for other current and perhaps future social media tools) are as follows:
The use of social media tools for instructional purposes must comply with existing university requirements, policies and guidelines. Compliance includes, but is not limited to HIPAA, FERPA and ADA requirements.
Educational Records and Personally Identifiable Information
In compliance with privacy laws under FERPA, the following information about students must never be communicated via a social media site’s networking tools.
|Grades or test scores||Class schedule, including location||Academic standing, including GPA|
|Financial aid status||Transcripts||Social security number|
|EmplID (PeopleSoft)||Residency status||Gender|
|Religious preference||Race/ethnicity||Marital status|
|Disability or health status||Financial obligations owed||Veteran status|
Though subject to public disclosure in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, best practices suggest that the following information should not be shared on social media used for instructional purposes
|Student name||Student mailing address||Telephone number|
|Email address||Major||Dates of attendance|
|Classification||Degree earned||Previous institutions attended|
|Weight and height of athletic team member||Honors and awards||Student photo|
Media-use guidelines from the College of Central Florida and Southeastern Missouri State University were consulted in drafting these guidelines. Many of the suggestions contained here are adapted from these institutions. The Ad Hoc Committee on the Instructional Use of Social Media developed these guidelines during the spring and summer terms of 2011. The guidelines were provisional during the Fall 2011 semester while they were distributed to the university community for comment.
Colin Colburn – Graduate Student Senate/History
Dave Davies – Honors College/Mass Communication & Journalism
Andrew Haley – History
Bill Powell, Co-Chair – Office of the Provost/Foreign Languages & Literatures
Kelley Strickland – Curriculum & Instruction
Sheri Rawls – Learning Enhancement Center
Becky Woodrick, Co-Chair – Office of Affirmative Action/EEO
Jillian Wright – Nursing