Social Media Guidelines

For the purposes of these guidelines, the term “social media” includes networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs such as wordpress, blog aggregators such as Tumblr, as well as video tools such as YouTube and Vimeo. The guidelines are not limited to a particular tool or type of tool and should be applied to any software application that is hosted outside of CCA, facilitates social interaction and is available on the Internet, including file sharing. Some such software, such as Google Apps for Education, are not hosted by CCA, but have contractual agreements with the College. We will include these in the guidelines, but reference and highlight specific issues that may apply to our CCA accounts versus a consumer-level agreement.

These guidelines are intended to help you, as a CCA instructor, staff member, and student, understand the choices, raise awareness regarding potential and often unintended implications of social media use, and provide some best practices as you head down this path.

If you are using Social Media for marketing purposes and representing CCA, please contact the Communications Department for further guidelines.

Choosing to use Social Media

Social media tools can have great benefits and application to education and the collaboration that takes place across educational institutions. They are often free or low cost, readily available from anywhere and allow instructors to deliver information in an engaging manner that is relevant to students’ lifestyles and expectations. There are many good pedagogical reasons to use social media. For example, as an instructor, you may want to have your students use social media to do research; share, provide peer review, and comment on each other’s work; or publish their findings and engage a broad community or the public around a topic. Simply Google the topic to find some wonderful and inspiring examples! However, there are several issues you should keep in mind as you make decisions about when and how to use specific social media sites:

  1. Privacy
  2. Intellectual Property
  3. Content Stickiness
  4. Student Experience

These issues are discussed in more detail in this guideline document.

Privacy and Intellectual Property Rights

There are many social media applications and platforms, and there are new ones opening their doors every day. Every social media site has its own usage agreement and policies. Therefore it is important to spend some time evaluating not just the functionality of the technology, but also the policies. As the instructor, it is important for you to review and understand the privacy and Intellectual Property (IP) policy of a site before assigning the use of this site to your students. Generally, because these sites are all based on making connections between individuals, these sites tend toward less privacy and more openness in regards to personal information. There may be long-term retention of personal data and content created on or uploaded to the site, even after an account is deleted (Facebook, for example). The good news is that many companies are increasingly allowing for more fine-tuned user and privacy management. Educating yourself and your users (students, faculty, or other staff) is a good practice and an important educational component in regards to digital literacy across our community. CCA’s Moodle hosted Moodle site is secure and ensures privacy and the faculty and student’s IP rights. If these are of concern to you, CCA ETS recommends that you use a CCA hosted Moodle site, where all the content resides on CCA servers and users are restricted to the campus community.

Google Apps for Education

As a Google Apps for Education (GAE) institution, CCA has signed a different Terms of Service contract for these tools than for individuals who sign up separately for a Google account. These terms provide additional protection for intellectual property (IP) for our campus community. All members of our campus community using their CCA accounts retain their intellectual property rights for their content. However, if you have uploaded documents to your personal Google Drive account, the intellectual property remains yours, but Google receives a worldwide license in perpetuity:

“When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps). “

Therefore, it is recommended that CCA staff, instructors, and students use their CCA account to create, upload, and share documents.

The services included under these CCA/GAE terms of service are: Google Drive (docs, spreadsheets, images, presentations, forms, drawings), email (, and Google Calendar.
The GAE terms can be found at:
Here are links to the privacy policies of several of the more popular social media sites: (for non-college sponsored services) (for non-college sponsored services)

Social media and storage of content and content stickiness

Many sites will not commit to preserving your or your content. Remember, many of these sites are very small companies. They may be bought out or simply not survive their early years. If preserving your content is important and you want to use a social media site, you will want to ensure that there is a back-up or export process available to you. If not, you should consider CCA’s course management system, Moodle, or its digital archive, The Vault.

Content stickiness is also an issue in the other direction. You may be publishing content or discussing very complex and sensitive issues with students or amongst staff in a site and educational context that you believe is closed. If privacy settings for that company change over time, that content could unintentionally become publicly viewable well after the completion of the class. If you are concerned about this, we recommend that you delete that content at the end of class. However, first check the site’s policies to ensure that you can delete them entirely. If you are staff and want to use social media in this way, we recommend that you work with ETS and the vendor to establish a contractual agreement to protect this data.

Privacy in Social Media and FERPA adherence

FERPA is one of the most misunderstood regulations in education. FERPA does not prevent instructors from assigning students to create public content as part of their course requirements. FERPA does not forbid instructors from using social media in the classroom, but common sense guidelines should be used to ensure the protection of students.


  1. When students are assigned to post information to public social media platforms they should be informed that their material may be viewed by others.
  2. Students should be encouraged or allowed to use aliases on social media sites if it is not beneficial to the students to use their names or other identifiable information.
  3. Students cannot be required to release personal information on a public site.
  4. Instructor comments or grades on student material should not be made public.
  5. Students under the age of 18 should have parental consent to post public work.
  6. Faculty should never post student grades, schedules or personally identifiable information.
  7. Faculty should notify students (in course descriptions and syllabi) of the use of social media in the classroom, including whether students are expected to use social media as a component of the class and whether student material will be shared with the class or with the public. They should also caution students against posting personal or sensitive material and discourage students from posting work to which they want to preserve their intellectual property rights.
  8. There should be an option to opt-out and submit assignments in some other fashion. Instructors should communicate the issues, conditions, and risks associated with any tool they choose at the beginning of the term. This allows students who object to withdraw from the course or to request alternate assignments or other solutions. However, be sensitive to the fact that withdrawal may not be possible if the course is required, the course is offered in a sequence, the course is not offered regularly, or the course is only offered by one instructor.
  9. Some institutions, such as Cornell University (, encourage instructors to allow students to opt out of using open or public Web 2.0 tools. Doing so reduces the amount of paperwork and administrative overhead required while demonstrating the institution’s intent to comply with FERPA and educate students about their options for use of Web 2.0 tools.
  10. If students choose to post personally identifiable information about themselves, they are completely free to do so. FERPA only covers what faculty and staff can and cannot do. Peer review may not fall under FERPA restrictions because the work is shared between students before it is turned into the instructor, at which point the review becomes part of a student’s educational record.