Technology and FERPA in Higher Education

I stumbled upon this article about the end of the use of public wikis at Georgia Tech for educational purposes due to worries about FERPA violations. To say that this article scares and saddens me is an understatement, and not just because I work in IT in higher education.

The limiting of what an educational professional can and cannot use in a classroom is troubling in itself, even when there can be very good reasons to do so. The limiting of technology use that can increase collaboration and technical skills over the threat of a violation because of a piece of legislation is terrifying.

Does Georgia Tech’s legal counsel have a point? Sure, and it is something that FERPA has enabled as everyone in higher ed continues to walk on eggshells over the new regulations. It is an example of the unintended consequences of legislation, especially ones as far reaching as FERPA.

Much of what FERPA was enacted to accomplish is good, but when it stifles the use of good technology and teaching methodologies, then you need to think is it worth it.

Needless to say, care has to be taken with how students are being seen in the public when using school sponsored technology mediums. Here is a good article about some thoughts on Social Media and FERPA.