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Facebook Follies: Serious Lessons for Students in Civic Engagement, Social Networking and Free Speech

Facebook Follies: Serious Lessons for Students in Civic Engagement, Social Networking and Free Speech

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Facebook Follies: Serious Lessons for Students in Civic Engagement, Social Networking and Free Speech

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  1. Jo Allen, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and ProvostRobert Freiling, Student Co Chair for Political Engagement CommitteeMarcine Pickron-Davis, Assistant to the President for Community Engagement Facebook Follies: Serious Lessons for Students in Civic Engagement, Social Networking and Free Speech

  2. Bullock School, Wilmington, Delaware (Traditional Boarding School) History Women, non-cadet boarding student admitted/PMC Colleges Widener University 1821 1858 1966 1972 1979 1980’s 1990’s 2004 • Widener College/ cadet corps disbanded • Acquisition of Delaware Law School • Merger with Brandywine Junior College Military instruction introduced Program expansion Facilities expansion

  3. Mission Statement As a leading metropolitan university, we achieve our mission at Widener by creating a learning environment where curricula are connected to societal issues through civic engagement….

  4. Mission Statement (cont’d) We lead by providing a unique combination of liberal arts and professional education in a challenging, scholarly, and culturally diverse academic community. We engage our students through dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, and experiential learning.

  5. Mission Statement, Cont’d. • We inspire our students to be citizens of character who demonstrate professional and civic leadership. • We contribute to the vitality and well-being of the communities we serve.

  6. Widener’s Educational Focus • Offers undergraduate and graduate programs in Arts & Sciences, Business, Engineering, Hospitality Management, Human Service Professions (education, social work, clinical psychology, and physical therapy), Law, Nursing, and University College • Focuses on applied, clinical and professional programs (graduate) • Incorporates experiential learning in its curricula • Embraces a holistic educational ideal • Teaches ethics and civic values • Serves the changing educational needs of its communities Arts & Sciences Foundation Integrated with Professional Education

  7. Office of Community Engagement • The Office for Community Engagement serves as the university liaison and the President’s delegate to enhance community relations within the university and with the local community. • The OCE advances Widener’s mission to contribute to the vitality and well-being of the communities we serve by providing leadership in fostering a civically-engaged campus community reflected in academically based scholarship and outreach activities.

  8. Office of Community Engagement • Curricular Engagement: Academic Service-Learning Faculty Development Program • Carnegie Civic Engagement Classification • Student Engagement • President’s National Honor Roll (Learn and Serve America) • Project Pericles™

  9. Project Pericles™ • Project Pericles is a national, non-profit organization that believes higher education must develop and implement programs that integrate the idealistic motivation of energy of students into the broader context of participatory citizenship and the values of our democracy. • Project Pericles moves beyond service programs to establish a wide array of activities encompassing the classroom, campus and community.

  10. Political Engagement Committee (PEC) • Meets at least once a week: • Consists of 15 members representing faculty, staff, administrators and students. • Facilitates the overreaching goals of Project Pericles™ and Debating for Democracy. • Generated the vision for our event and delegates to the D4D Subcommittee its execution.

  11. Debating for Democracy • Debating for Democracy (D4D) is in its 2nd year with 22 Periclean schools participating. • Year One (2006-2007): 6 schools participated • The following schools have joined Widener University in exploring the topic of Online Social Networking and Privacy Rights: • Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, PA) • Western New England College (Springfield, MA) • Hampshire College (Amherst, MA) • Rhodes College (Memphis, TN)

  12. What is Debating for Democracy (D4D)? • Objective: Inspire student civic interest, understanding and active involvement. • Students will research topics, develop their own opinions and advocate their positions on current issues of public import. • Topics: Immigration, Voter Rights, and Privacy Issues surrounding online social networking websites such as Facebook. • Pillars: Dialogue, Deliberation, Debate, Democracy

  13. Meets on a bi-weekly basis. Reports to Political Engagement Committee. Consists of seven members of the PEC. Facilitates the planning and details of our D4D event. Follows through on any suggestions or ideas presented at the PEC discussions and meetings. D4D at Widener University

  14. D4D Topic: Widener University • Widener is discussing privacy, freedom of speech and other First Amendment issues surrounding the popular social networking site Facebook • What is Facebook? • “An online directory that connects people through social networks at colleges and universities. Facebook enables students to search for people at their school, find students who share similar interests or courses, look up friends of friends, network and visualize their social network via photos” []

  15. Why Privacy Issues & Facebook? Facebook issues have made national news from a number of campuses across the country Having a Facebook account has evolved into a social necessity for nearly every college student Upwards of 90% of students have an account • Faculty, staff and • administrators • participate in social • networking on Facebook. • Raises issues pertaining • to privacy rights

  16. Ripped from the Headlines • “Florida high school teacher loses job over content on MySpace” (1/26/2006) • “Student arrested after police Facebooked him” (8/1/2006) • “Facebook in talks with Yahoo for rumored $1 Billion deal” (9/21/2006) • “Sacramento State soccer team is under investigation due to Facebook photos” (2/26/2007)

  17. Summary of D4D Activities • Panel Discussion • “The Truth About Facebook, MySpace and File Sharing” • Facebook Forum • Issues, headlines and topics displayed in student common grounds. • Campus members were given the opportunity to write reactions and comments. • Keynote Discussion • Panel Discussion including constituents from the Widener Law School, ACLU and institutions with existing Facebook policy.

  18. Summary of Activities (cont’d.) • Privacy Rights & Online Social Networking Blog • • Provides a unitary discussion forum where new resources and discussions can be shared by students across participating schools.

  19. Next Steps in Our Project • Research institutional policies • Explore national trends among colleges and universities regarding Facebook policy and/or regulation. • Review assessment of previous events to determine which were most effective for generating discussion. • Analyze Widener student’s perceptions regarding policy implementation on campus. • Explore innovative means of communicating and generating discussion related to our topic • Examples: Web Blogs, Classroom Discussions, Etc.. • Raise awareness of the topic, direction, events, etc.

  20. Integration of Critical & Creative Thinking • Summary and Synthesis • Ex: What are the issues? How is this playing out on multiple fronts? • Analysis • Ex: Is this free speech? Invasion of privacy? • Problem solving • Ex: Should the campus initiate rules to protect the students? If so, what kind?

  21. Multidisciplinary Reasoning • Philosophy • Law • Ethics • Technology • Political Science • Sociology • Communications

  22. Ethical Reasoning and Action • How do we reconcile “rights” versus “judgment”? • How do we reconcile “ability” with “discretion”? • How do we engage others in the conversation? • How do we use elements of our various backgrounds to inform this discussion?

  23. Communication • Peer-to-peer (students, faculty, administrators) • Faculty-to-student • Student-to-faculty • Administrators to student • Student to administrators • Faculty to administrators • Administrators to faculty

  24. Communication (cont’d.) • Civic/Civil Rights • Personal Privacy • Personal, Group, Institutional Security • Wisdom, judgment, discretion • Legalities

  25. [Desired] Project Objectives • Engage the student community in dialogue about issues surrounding online social networking. • Share research gathered regarding peer institutions policies and practices. • Provide a forum for students to help shape Widener University institutional policies on censorship regarding online social networking.

  26. Assessment: Direct Survey (3-2-1) • What are 3 new things you have taken away from this event? • Describe 2 ways in which your thinking about Facebook has changed • What is 1 thing you will change in the way you use Facebook? • What questions do you have or comments that you would like to make?

  27. What Did You Learn? • It’s not just for close friends • There really isn’t privacy • Posting harmful material/criminal content can be used in the justice system • Facebook can work to a community’s advantage when it comes to communication • Used as a democratic tool • Some things are not protected by the Constitution.

  28. How Did Your Thinking Change? • Even if you have private settings, people can still access your page • Facebook can be used to communicate in time of need • Never thought Facebook could get me in trouble

  29. What Will You Change • I will be more careful about what I post • Will not put anything on that will get me in trouble • Make my settings more private and review the photos I have on campus • Will not put too much personal information on Facebook • Delete my incriminating photos • Update my privacy settings

  30. Lessons Learned…. • Fostering Faculty, Student and Administrative Partnerships • Promoting Faculty Engagement • Promoting Student Leadership • Supporting a student-driven topic • Supporting a student-driven design • Promoting partnership-based assessment

  31. For Your Own Consideration…. • How is Facebook used on your campus? How do you know? • Does your campus have any policies about the use of Facebook? • Does your campus plan any policies? • Who will be included in the conversation?

  32. Questions for Further Consideration • What is the advantage of just ignoring Facebook? • What is the disadvantage of ignoring Facebook? • What other implications might arise for Internet usage (or other technologies) that might engage your students in dialogue and debate from a democracy-based perspective?