Student Privacy Concerns in a Web 2.0 World

 I’ve been thinking about student privacy a lot over the past two years. The digital exhibit site my students created, Madison in the 1970s, is somewhat like a blog. Blogging, of course, is a particular kind of writing and publishing. Blog posts tend to be informal, chatty, polemical, self-published, and footnote-free–all the things traditional academic writing is not. Blogs are also public. Anyone can find and read what has been posted, and the poster will likely never know who has read her work, let alone how different readers reacted. In another post, I will explore how and why I held my students to disciplinary standards of writing, research, and citation (despite the blog format). Here, I lay out why requiring an undergraduate to create or contribute to a blog (or other digital project) raises important ethical considerations, especially as related to questions about students privacy and students’ rights to their own work in a Web 2.0 environment. I remain committed to the benefits of digital projects, but recommend a cautious, thoughtful approach. Continue reading