Social Media Ethics and Law

social media law

I’m working on a presentation titled “Social Media Ethics and Law.”  It’s also a course that I’m building to teach next year.

Social media is redefining the relationships between organizations and their audiences, and it introduces new ethical, privacy and legal issues. The audience for my presentation is schools, mostly higher education, but it is an area lacking for many organizations, employees and individual users. We need to have a better understanding of the ethics, and also the law, as it applies in these new contexts.

To use a clichéd disclaimer, I am not a lawyer. And my focus is more on ethics, but at some point ethics bumps up against law. Pre-existing media law about copyright and fair use was not written with social media in mind, so changes and interpretations are necessary.

Technological advances blur the lines of what is or is not allowed to be published and shared and issues of accuracy, privacy and trust. Many people feel that the Millennial and Generation Z individuals in particular have grown up with a copy/paste, download-it-for-free ethos that can easily lead to legal violations online.

If you have any thoughts on this topic, I’d like to hear from you. Comment here or use my Contact page.



My presentation will be at the NJEDge.Net Annual Conference in November 2016.

Learning to Unretire

connect2 sistineI have been working on a conference presentation the past two month that I have titled “The Disconnected.”  That is my name for a segment of the population that is not disconnected in a detached or unengaged sense, but are instead disconnecting from traditional modes and sources of information and learning.

In doing my research, I found the organization Encore.org that has a Higher Education Initiative which is looking at the impact of an aging population on higher education.

I also found a podcast that is called Unretirement.

I realized early on that I am becoming one of “the disconnected” but only recently did I know that I am also entering unretirement.

Chris Farrell, who wrote the book Unretirement and hosts the podcast, defines unretirement as a “grassroots movement rethinking and reimagining the second half of life.”

I believe (but I’m not certain) that I am done with my full-time work in education which has been my career for 40 years. Friends and colleagues tell me that they don’t believe it. “You’re too young to retire. You will go crazy with nothing to do.” I disagree. There is so much that I want to do. Some of that is typical of the age – travel, spend more time with loved ones – some of it includes the things that were often deferred because of work – writing and painting, for example. And some of it is unknown at this point.

Farrell’s book is subtitled “How Baby Boomers are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and the Good Life” and in one podcast episode he talked with a woman, Sandra, who felt the need to get out of the house and start doing something to help deal with her unhappiness. She signed up for a quilt making class. It lit up a passion in her. At age 58, she’s gone back to “school” to move into a new career and is getting certified to become a professional quilting instructor. That may not sound like a typical “major” or even a viable unretirement career choice, but…

Quilting in America market is worth $3.76 billion annually” according to a trade survey trying to get at the size of the quilting economy. Sandra is not going to her local college to learn. She is not interested in credits or a degree. Quiltworx is the company from which she is getting her certification. The podcast covered why she decided to get this certification and how her family helped her figure whether the certificate was worth the cost. She has a business plan, and expects her certificate will pay off in 18 months.

The “Baby Boomers” are just one age segment of those I am finding to be part of “The Disconnected.” The largest age group is much younger and includes the traditional potential students for undergraduate and graduate programs. And even younger people are being born into and growing up in a society where the disconnects will be so common that they will probably not be seen as disconnects.

Here is one example of that disconnect. I came of age in the 1960s and viewed television as a wireless (via antenna) service that was free if you owned a set and supported by advertising. If you grew up in the 1980s, you saw television as a service that came to your home via a cable service that you paid for (even paying for the formerly free networks that had advertising support) and could add additional premium services if you wanted them. You learned to supplement and control that content (starting to call it video rather than TV) using a VCR and videotapes and later DVDs and then a DVR. A child of today is likely to be using multiple networks via multiple devices and may be growing up in a household that has already cut the cord to those 1980s services and devices and hard media formats.

So, grandparents and their grandchildren may find some connectiveness in being disconnected in their media consumption and even in how they both are learning and preparing for a working life.

Here are some resources about how older adults are connecting to learning and unretirement using both traditional schools and alternatives.

Improving Education and Training for Older Workers a survey from the AARP Public Policy Institute.

Certificates: Gateway to Gainful Employment and College Degrees from Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University

How many students graduate outside the normal age?” an international study by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development

The Plus 50 Initiative at community colleges for learners age 50+ and a Lumina Foundation report on Plus 50

A state by state rundown of education opportunities for seniors

Over 50 and Back in College, Preparing for a New Career

The 40-Year-Old Graduates

4 Ways Older Students Can Avoid Student Debt

How to Make the Most of Longer Lives

Craft Artists, Income, and the U.S. Economy

From Rubrica To Rubric To Grading Papers With a Red Pen

I will doing another rubric workshop for faculty next month and I like to include a slide in my presentation and just touch on the origin of “rubric” as we use it in academia today.

the word has origins in late Middle English rubrish which was the original way to refer to a heading, section of text. Earlier Old French rubriche had the same meaning and came from the Latin rubrica (terra, red clay or ink as in the red ocher/ochre color).

Medieval printers had few ways to give emphasis to text on headings and the first character of a paragraph. Illuminated manuscripts could be quite elaborate and beautiful, but fonts were not standardized and there was no italic or bold.  That left them to use color.

Ochre is a naturally occurring pigment from certain clay deposits containing iron oxides, used since prehistoric times to give color to dyes, paints and inks. Ochre colors are yellow, brown, red and purple. The most common in printing colored text was red ochre. In Latin, red ochre is rubrica and that is the origin of the word rubric as these red emphasized headings.

Take this a bit further in the many religious texts that were reproduced. Those texts, used by clergy, included a kind of “stage directions” for the clergy reading. These were printed in red while the text for the congregation was printed in black ink. This gave an additional meaning to the red rubric writing as instructional text.

As universities are created and books become more commonly used, scholars grading student papers would use red ink to leave instructions, suggestions and corrections on student papers. The practice has survived, although in some educational settings it is frowned on.

You’ll often see a rubric used in academia as a guide listing specific criteria for grading or scoring academic papers, projects, or tests. That is the focus for my presentation and I have collected some information and links on rubric use on my NJIT website.