Making Sense of Computer-Mediated Communication in Online

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Transcript Making Sense of Computer-Mediated Communication in Online

Ethics and Social Media:
Blurring the Boundaries in the
Virtual World
Dr. Amy Thurlow
Dept. of Communication Studies
Mount Saint Vincent University
CCEPA Research Presentation
• What’s changing in the virtual classroom?
• Blurring boundaries between public and private
• Ethical dilemmas
• E-professionalism
• Discussion / Q&A
“What students don’t realize is that the use of new
media in education has fundamentally changed
the nature of our relationship.” (Faculty member,
Professional Studies)
Social Media
• Fundamentally concerned with human relationships
• Defined by Boyd and Ellison (2007, p. 234) as “web‐based services that
allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi‐public profile within
a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they
share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections
and those made by others within the system. The nature and
nomenclature of these connections may vary from site to site.”
“These new media are not just changing our
lives, the way we work and communicate – but
they are profoundly changing our selves... our
own identities, and authenticity” (Turkle, 1995)
Research program
• Student Interviews
• Faculty Interviews
• Focus group discussions
• The conceptualization of the classroom
• The jurisdictional boundaries of communication
within the new media environment
• Changing roles for students and faculty
• Definition of ethical dilemmas
Focus Group Interview Guide
• What are the ethical issues that you see reflected in this
• Do you agree with how the (student or professor) handled
the situation?
• What would you do if you were the main character (student
or professor) in this scenario?
• How serious do you think this issue is? (for students, for
faculty, for universities)
• How would this situation have been different if new media
technology were not involved?
Ethical Dilemma ‘A’
• Student A is a student in an on-campus Communication course. She
contacts her professor via email to say that a classmate has posted
comments about her on Facebook. These comments describe Student A
as “wasting time in Communication class with her endless, stupid
questions.” The comments are posted on the classmate’s own Facebook
page, however, since all of the Communication students are “friends” of
the classmate, the entire class has read the posting. The professor is not
a “friend” of the classmate and does not have access to the Facebook
page in question. Student A has forwarded the content of the page in
her email to the professor.
• The professor contacts the classmate and asks for a face to face meeting.
During the meeting the professor asks the classmate to take the posting
off her Facebook page.
Privacy and social media
• Privacy within social networking sites is often not expected or
is undefined. Social networking sites record all interactions,
and retain them for potential use in social data mining. Offline,
most social transactions leave behind no trace. This lack of a
record is a passive enabler of social privacy (Lessig, 1998).
Therefore these sites need explicit policies and data protection
mechanisms in order to deliver the same level of social privacy
found offline (Dwyer, Hiltz, & Passerini, 2007, p. 2).
Facebook and the e-presence
Even though professors or employers could access student
Facebook pages, for example, students were very clear that they
should not do that without student permission.
“It’s very sneaky of them,” said one participant. “It’s kind of like
spying” said another. One student suggested that employers
should inform all applicants to jobs at the time they submit
applications that, “I’m going to be checking your Facebook,
Twitter account, etc. – if that’s OK with you.”
e-professionalism and accountability?
• Universities teaching students social media skills - CTV News
• The e-presence
• (4:47)
• DePaul University
• Etiquette - Ryerson
• Tip sheets / information at login - Dalhousie
• Workshops - Carleton
• Social Media 101 – Ryerson