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

Social media connects individuals to massive quantities of information, and through social networks we are exposed to more personal things than ever in history (boyd, 2012). There are risks associated with participating in a digital environment, including becoming a target or participant in cyberbullying, predation, revenge porn, sexting or grooming. These risks can create a panic, or ‘technopanic’, that is supported by a natural survival instinct combined with poor comparative risk analysis skills (Thierer, 2012). One factor that contributes to technopanic is a generational difference, where parents and policymakers (older adults) dread changes to cultural or privacy-related norms and experience anxiety about the influence of social change on youth (Thierer, 2012). Adults tend to fondly remember their past; seeing events as more positive than they actually were, and are often fearful of change (Thierer, 2012). boyd (2012) points out that we learn how to be fearful based on experience, and thanks to the interconnectivity of social media, we hear fearful ideas from people we trust which adds to our own fear.

As an adult education instructor, I may have been lulled into a false sense of security in terms of risks to my students. After all, as adults they should be able to make rational, informed decisions about risks to privacy and personal safety on their own. However, many of my students are returning to school after a long absence, and have not had the opportunity to use technology in an educational setting. They are not necessarily aware of the safety and privacy concerns that exist when using certain tools, and may not have the confidence to report inappropriate behaviour or use of a technology. As their instructor, I need to ensure that all students, regardless of their previous educational or technological background, are guided in their decision making when participating in a digital community.



boyd, d. (2012). Webstock ’12: danah boyd – Culture of Fear + Attention Economy = ?!?! [Video file]. Retrieved from http://vimeo.com/38139635

Thierer, A. (2012, March 4). The Six Things that Drive “Technopanics”. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamthierer/2012/03/04/the-six-things-that-drive-technopanics/