Digital Dilemma – FERPA and Education on the Web
Background: What’s a FERPA?
FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. It is US Federal legislation passed in 1974 to protect various forms of student data in both k-12 and higher education. It eliminated behaviors like posting exam results with student names and scores in a public place (hallway, door, etc.) It governs what data is protected and who can be given access to it among other things.
Fast Forward to 2011: Educational activities have been taking place on the web for decade and by now there is widespread use of Web 2.0 tools across all grade levels and institution types. The implementations are numerous. There are widely recognized benefits from sharing information, learning experiences, what has been learned, etc. via Web enablement and Web 2.0 tools.
Recently, Georgia Tech invoked the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) which led to deletion of all student history and participation from the school’s “Swikis,” the wikis that students use for their coursework. For our next #smedu Twitter chat, we will consider the following questions:
- What is FERPA?
- What are the implications of Georgia Tech's action for the use of social media in learning?
- Do you agree or disagree with Georgia Tech's action?
- How will this development affect your use of social media for learning?
For on-ground instructors, class time is a precious and premium commodity. There is never enough of it to cover all the mateial we have or to go over what we cover in the depth we would like. When holiday breaks come around, tensions can build. Some students leave the campus before the break starts. They may be traveling some distance and have coordinated plans with family and friends. Those that come to class have started to check out mentally in anticipation of upcoming events in their personal lives. Some are under additional stress from family obligations and others have increased work demands. Whatever the case and cause, attendance and focus in class drops, sometimes significantly so.
Some instructors just cancel the class before break. Others often “lighten” up on the material coverage. Some plow ahead full steam as though nothing should be different about these classes before a break. Instructors can be left frustrated, angered, disappointed and disillusioned.
First of all, I’m on your side. This time last year I was about to graduate in a few weeks and had no clue what I was going to do for a job. Ron Burgundy put it best when he cried out, “I’m in a glass case of emotion!” I was in a glass case indeed. And when Thanksgiving came around I thought, “What the heck do I have to be thankful for!? I’m over $20,000 in student-loan debt and have zero jobs lined up! How am I going to survive?”
So, to keep you positive during this time when the word “thankful” makes your left eye twitch, I’ve come up with a few things you should focus on.
This week is International Education Week. One of the premier events is the 2011 Global Education Conference. With over 300 presentations from around the globe, the conference seeks to present ideas, examples, and projects related to connecting educators and classrooms with a strong emphasis on promoting global awareness, fostering global competency, and inspiring action towards solving real–world problems.