Copyright Reminder

Social media & web tools for teaching

Collaboration tools can enhance the learning environment, but it is important to ensure that any tool used in teaching is compliant with FERPA, the Federal law governing the management of student records.  These tools can also raise concerns related to web security, content ownership, and confidentiality.

Because of these risks, social media tools should be vetted and hosted by Stanford whenever possible, to reduce concerns regarding content ownership, confidentiality of student information, and web security.  Third-party tools and websites may be appropriate if no comparable Stanford tool exists, but be aware that many service providers require users to sign up for an account and agree to terms of use in exchange for use of the services. Faculty should review terms of use and pay attention to:

  • Content ownership concerns (e.g., are students required to give away or license their copyright interests in student-generated content?)
  • Privacy concerns (e.g., can students control the distribution of their own content?)
  • Content use for non-Stanford purposes (e.g., will the service provider keep a copy of the student-generated content for data-mining or other purposes?)

Faculty should notify students in the syllabus when third-party tools will be used in a course, and should also alert students to the terms of use.  Faculty should work with students who are not comfortable agreeing to particular third-party terms – including, where possible, enabling a student to participate in the course without relying on the third-party tools.