Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Two Issues Regarding Schools on Facebook (FERPA and Creepy Treehouse)

Two areas of concern arise quickly when we begin to discuss the idea of leveraging third-party technology by integrating university enrollment data: FERPA and the "Creepy Treehouse Effect".

Inigral's Michael Staton, a former teacher who is now involved with the release of Schools on Facebook, addresses these two issues in recent posts.

FERPA, Facebook and The Social Web

"...The immediate reaction to the thought of activating a campus-wide Facebook application can make any decision-maker nervous. Information is shared all over Facebook, and a campus’ interest to keep student data private and secure is not only an obligation but is also upheld by the law....At Inigral, we’ve worked with our pilot school and our lawyers to assure that all features of our application are FERPA compliant and uphold the strongest standards of security and privacy. I don’t want to go into the exact feature set that makes it such a comfortable thing for institutional adoption, but it is proof that venturing into the wide world of the Social Web is highly possible with a little care."

Debunking the Creepy Treehouse: the Functional Mall
...We don’t need to give educators an excuse to not be using these technologies, we need to be getting them to understand how best to use these technologies. We need to keep in mind the “creepy treehouse” to guide us, but let us not point to everything on Facebook and Myspace, Twitter and Flickr and start accusing. As long as everyone is using their privacy settings and limits contact with those that might be of a “transcendant” age group or have a “careful” boundary (e.g. teacher/student, parent/child) to transactional interactions."

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