15. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Blog · Tags: ,

In British Columbia, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) protects our privacy rights. At Vancouver Island University (VIU), faculty are encouraged to participate in training sessions to help them understand how to apply FIPPA rules when using social media, especially in regard to students and their personal information (Hengstler, 2013a). ‘Personal information’ is “recorded information about an identifiable individual other than contact information” (Cooper, Southwell & Portal, 2011, p. 3). If an instructor requires a student to use personal information as part of a class project or assignment, the student must be given written notice at the beginning of the project or course. This notice outlines the purpose of the project, what technology will be used, what personal information may be necessary and the potential uses of the information (Cooper, Southwell & Portal, 2011). Informed consent, typically requested and provided in written form, secures the student’s permission for use of personal information as described in the written notice (Hengstler, 2013b).

Hengstler (2014) describes a continuum of 6 FIPPA compliance positions for educators (Figure 1). After reading about privacy boundaries and social media, learning more about FIPPA and my role as an educator, I fear that I may be at the ‘avoidance’ or ‘ignorance’ end of the continuum.

compliance continuum

Figure 1. The Compliance Continuum (Hengstler, 2014).

Educators are responsible for the emotional and physical safety of students (Teacher Regulation Branch, 2013). Protecting my students’ personal privacy online to the best of my abilities requires work on my part to move myself from ‘ignorance’ to ‘full compliance’.   It is not enough to simply understand how to use technology; it is critical to understand social media privacy boundaries.



Cooper, S., Southwell, & Portal, P. (2011). Privacy Guide for Faculty Using 3rd Party Web Technology (Social Media) in Public Post-Secondary Courses. Vancouver Island University & BC Campus. Retrieved from http://www.viu.ca/iel/tech/Privacy_Guide_SocialMedia_Cloud_PostSecondary_Classes_2011.pdf

Hengstler, J. (2013a, May 17). A K-12 Primer for British Columbia Teachers Posting Students’ Work Online [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://jhengstler.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/a-k-12-primer-for-british-columbia-teachers-posting-students-work-online/

Hengstler, J. (2013b). A K-12 Primer for British Columbia Teachers Posting Students’ Work Online. Retrieved from https://www.dropbox.com/s/z9zp3q2ynkvsscs/Primer%20on%20Posting%20Minor%20Students%20Final%20%281%29.pdf

Hengstler, J. (2014). The Compliance Continuum: FIPPA & BC Public Educators’ Use of Social Media & the Cloud. Vancouver Island University. Retrieved from https://www.dropbox.com/s/ridcqq14a7k9543/Compliance_Continuum_5_06_14-1.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