Expectations (?)

I am not sure what I hope to learn from this social media class, except to try and make sense of it all, any why does it matter to me. Problems I am wrestling with is how can anyone keep all of these sites going and keep sane? If you watched your Twitter feed and respond to a few, kept up your blog on your perspective on life, email, texting, Face book, etc (ad nausea)….where do you fit in your “real work” during the day. 

As an IT technology specialist for a high school with a population of over 1200 students (9 thru 12) with a generous mix of autistic and special Ed kids – administration and staff to troubleshoot for, my day is pretty full. Troubleshooting consumes my online time, searching for solutions to unique problems that only a school system would create. 

I would like to understand why having a Twitter account would be go to have or not. Blogs and Wiki’s are useful for posting various thoughts or helpful hints to followers who I would hope would be teachers. But the biggest obstacle a K-12 school setting is the restrictions imposed on the education community my State and local (i.e. school board, administration, etc) opinions. You tube (both good and bad) is unavailable; Twitter is off (texting on steroids); blogging is limited (too great a possibility of bullying); Facebook (no); texting (test cheating, classroom distractions); cell phones (too easy to post fights, dress code violations, anything capturable by the camera in the phone); etc, etc, etc. 

Opinion (baring neck) – It sometimes feels as though the University community is living in a bubble. Isolated from the real world. Eagerly trying out all of the new wonders of the moment, touting their greatness…only to discard them for the next great wonder. While in the K-12 and corporate arenas, these new wonders are regarded in suspicion. Tested on a remote island of the K-12/corporate world before limiting their possible use. 

Don’t misunderstand me, as I can ramble on occasion, I think Technology is great, a fun time can be had by all….but this Technology is evolving faster than most humans can grasp the basics, let alone become a “master”. Some will shine brighter with their understanding and use, while the most of us struggle with a lame attempt to use the latest technology, just to keep up appearances. 



Student Privacy


How concerned are you about students’ privacy in Web 2.0 learning spaces such as wikis, blogs, and social media?


Student privacy as outlined in FERPA is a Federal law that protects the privacy of personally identifiable information from student education records. As the law applies to personally identifiable information contained in students’ records, it is generally not applicable to other data that a school may collect, such as information on teachers (although there may be other State laws guiding the use and disclosure of that data). The law applies to all educational agencies and institutions, such as schools, school districts, and postsecondary institutions that receive funds under any program administered by the Department. Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to disclose any personally identifiable information from that student’s education record. (An “eligible student” is a student who is 18 years old or attending a postsecondary institution at any age.) (US Dept of Education, 2011)


It would seem from reading the above regulation that would be fairly clear-cut from the school point of view. The school (K-12 and colleges) could allow Web 2.0, wiki’s and blogs to be a part of the curriculum as long as no identifying information was disclosed within these web instruments. But the problem that could surface is whether the students that the law is trying to protect buy into the rules. It could get sticky for the school/college that hosts these web services on their servers, and the a student reveal personal information about themselves in these forums without their parents knowledge or consent, but then again that’s what students do.


The US Department of Educations piece on Safeguarding Student Privacy speaks about stakeholders.

             “All education data holders must act responsibly and be held accountable for safeguarding students’ personally identifiable information – from practitioners of early learning to those developing systems across the education continuum (P‐20) and from schools to their contractors. The need for articulated privacy protections and data security continues to grow as Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) are built and more education records are digitized and shared electronically. As States develop and refine their information management systems, it is critical that they ensure that student information continues to be protected and that students’ personally identifiable information is disclosed only for authorized purposes and under the circumstances permitted by law. All P‐20 stakeholders should be involved in the development of these statewide systems and protection policies. “ (http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/safeguarding-student-privacy.pdf)


I am not sure how FERPA based on the above really applies to Web 2.0, Wiki’s and Blogs. Unless, of course, the student considers themselves a non-stakeholder and posts significant information about themselves online.


The public/private school system is under attack from all sides, from allowing students access to Web 2.0, and other web activities to those that rally against teachers and administrators/staff from contacting students via email, texting, tweets, wiki’s, forums, etc. The more records are digitized and shared electronically, the higher are the chances that someone or some organization will slip-up and disclose this student information.


With the advent of the Internet and Web 2.0 access to anyone with a computer, smart phone, tablet – Pandora’s box has been flung open. Technology has its good and not so good sides to it. And schools (K-12) are struggling to cope with all of the demands put upon them to protect the students who access this technology through their networks. The sea of acronyms is mind blowing:

CIPA (http://www.fcc.gov/guides/childrens-internet-protection-act),

FERPA (http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/students.html)

PPRA (http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ppra/index.html)

Elementary & Secondary Education Policies [too many to list]



New guidelines issued in my school district require teachers/staff/administrators to limit how they make contact with students. Any forms of communication to a student MUST include contact with their parent or guardian. This includes texting, emails, voice calls, face book, or and other line of communication.

FERPA wavier

Personal FERPA statement

 I, Samuel R Johnson, understand and accept that some of my academic work for the fall 2012 semester will be published on the open web. I also disclose that the work I will be putting up online is done as a part of the EDUC439/639 class at the University of Delaware. The home page of this open class is located at http://openteaching.ud-css.net/. Unless content put up can potentially damage my online reputation, I also pledge to leave it online until at least December 21, 2012, the end of the fall semester.

 Under those terms, I waive parts of my FERPA-granted rights for the purpose of exploring social media and web 2.0, excluding private conversations with colleagues and course grades.

Into the breach . . .

Here’s hoping I can get a handle on all of this…I am not sure if it’s a generational reluctance to “blog” or just my shyness in the digital social media. It’s not that I am afraid of technology, how could I be…I am an Technology Specialist in a K-12 school district. A Master of all thing digital (or so the teachers think).

I find the whole notion of writing online very difficult. 

But this is just another first step.