Evidence: Academic Paper (Sept 21, 2014)

OLTD 506 Learning Outcome addressed:

Develop understanding of:

  • functional contexts and restraints
  • employment considerations
  • privacy tensions
  • BC legal context
  • school policies and procedures
  • professional ethics

Analyze the BC educational context for social media use

Reflection to Support Evidence:

Social media is a means for society to communicate with each other. For my first major assignment in OLTD 506, I examined how I might use social media within the boundaries of digital footprints and professionalism, privacy, social justice and safety. The evidence piece, my summary academic paper, was built using a series of blogs I wrote as I progressed through my learning of each boundary.

While researching for this paper, I was able to solidify my understanding of what social media really was. Initially, I had seen social media as simply a tool, but I came to understand that social media is broader than that; it is a combination of content, community and digital tools. While I understood the importance of managing my own digital footprint, I was not familiar with the requirements under the British Columbia Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and my responsibility to ensure that I inform my students (even as adults) of potential risks to their privacy. In addition, choosing to use social media as a learning tool means that I must ensure all students have equal learning opportunities, regardless of whether or not they can afford the tools or access to the Internet.

Understanding issues around social media, such as functional restraints, privacy and policies and procedures, is important as an online educator. Policies and procedures may vary from one school district or post-secondary institution to another, and educators must be aware of their applicable policies when implementing social media in the classroom. Some social media tools may not be allowed or approved for use in certain educational institutions based on their privacy policies. As education professionals, we are held to a code of ethics that requires we protect our students privacy and safety. As I develop more online content for my blended courses, I will ensure that I choose tools that minimize risk to student’s privacy and that I am meeting my obligations under FIPPA and my institution’s policies and procedures.

Stewart_Charlene_oltd506_BoundariesPaper edited

The world’s population is becoming increasingly connected digitally, with more and more users sharing content with others in their social networks (Wikipedia, 2014). But what happens when content that seemed funny or appropriate at the time reappears later in life and affects someone in a negative way? Digital footprints, the aggregation of all your digital activities in all the digital environments you navigate (Hengstler, 2012), are permanent. There are no ‘do-overs’ or ‘take-backs’ in a digital world. Unlike a game of telephone, where the message is passed on but stays within the confines of the group that is playing, messages that are sent into a digital environment can be rapidly copied and passed on to many others outside of the original network. A digital footprint is created through a combination of voluntary posting of content (e.g., blogs, photos), passive collection of data (e.g., cookies or browser history) and second-hand data, where your data has been deliberately shared to others beyond what you intended (Hengstler, 2011).

As an educator, I am held to a high standard of behaviour, both on and off duty (Teacher Regulation Branch, British Columbia Ministry of Education, 2013). While I do maintain a FaceBook profile, I am extremely aware that what I post is no longer under my control once it enters the digital world. This knowledge has prevented me on many occasions to refrain from contributing to a conversation with my social groups. As pointed out by Hengstler (2010), those of us entering the digital environment in our 30’s and 40’s had entered mature adulthood and were capable of making mature, rational decisions regarding posting content. As an educator I am expected to lead by example. It is my responsibility to help my students, regardless of age, understand how to manage their digital footprint.


Hengstler, J. (2010). “Fleas in a bottle? Will social networking stymie personal development of youth?” Blog post on http://jhengstler.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/fleas-in-a-bottle-will-social-networking-stymie-personal-development-of-youth/

Hengstler, J. (2011). Managing your digital footprint: Ostriches v. Eagles. In S. Hirtz & K. Kelly (Eds.), Education for a Digital World 2.0 (2nd ed.) (Vol. 1, Part One: Emerging technologies and practices). Open School/Crown Publications: Queen’s Printer for British Columbia, Canada. http://www.viu.ca/education/faculty_publications/hengstler/EducationforDigitalWorld2.0_1_jh89.pdf

Hengstler, J. (April 2012). “Digital professionalism and digital footprints”. Document prepared for training session with Vancouver Island University’s Administrative Assistants, April 2012. Social Media Digital Footprints 2013_v3.pdf

Teacher Regulation Branch, British Columbia Ministry of Education. (2013). Standards for education, competence, and professional conduct of educators in BC. http://www.bcteacherregulation.ca/Standards/StandardsDevelopment.aspx

Wikipedia. (2014). Social networking service. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_networking_service