Social Media in the Canadian Post-Secondary Classroom

Social Media in the Canadian Post-Secondary Classroom

Linda Pardy (University of the Fraser Valley, Canada), David Thomson (University of the Fraser Valley, Canada) and Samantha Pattridge (University of the Fraser Valley, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8614-4.ch050
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Abstract

In Canada, the use of Social Networking Sites (SNS) for instructional purposes at post-secondary institutions is constrained by students' legislated rights to privacy. Some universities have explored ways to obtain the advantages of cloud computing while still meeting mandated obligations to protect student privacy. The government of British Columbia maintains the strictest standards in Canada regarding access to and storage of personal information, hampering instructional use of SNS. The University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) decided to work within this legislation and challenge faculty to modify their classroom practice. At UFV the most significant SNS-related teachable moments come from education towards informed consent to public sharing of information through SNS. While our ability to teach students how to use SNS resources is restricted, working within the legislation encourages educators to evaluate their central purpose for using SNS. Students acquire digital skills through various forms of informal learning; therefore, the formal instructional setting becomes an opportunity to foster development of digital citizens.
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Background

Canada has a complex education system that is governed on a national and provincial level. There are two distinct education systems, one for children and youth, and another for adults. Each province must follow national guidelines, but is responsible for its own education systems. As a result, there are various models of education delivery across the country. The term post-secondary education is being used in this chapter to ensure our review of Canadian SNS practices captures the full range of adult learning opportunities and experiences. The Canadian Council on Learning (CCL) defined post-secondary education (PSE) as skills and knowledge taken as an adult, 19 years of age or older, at the university, university college, college, career, vocational, or technical level. The CCL articulated the importance of each component in the PSE sector in contributing to Canada’s social and economic development as a result of participation in an education system (2009).

In understanding the contextual nature of Canada and its education system, it is important to note that Canada borders the United States (US) and draws heavily on research, education materials, and resources produced in the US. However, as will be explained in the next section, Canada has quite distinct privacy legislation, as well as somewhat different social and cultural expectations for post-secondary education and educators.

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