Eszter has a piece up at CT on complying with FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) with regards to blogging. Since I’m TA-ing the undergrad communications course next semester, students will no doubt find my homepage or google me and find this blog. The question is: to what extent can I blog about the class and my experience within it without violating FERPA? I don’t have the layered privacy features of livejournal, so I can’t hide my comments about quiz design, etc. behind a password-protected wall.
One of my friends told me he blogs anonymously to avoid these issues, but I’m not sure that lets you off the hook, since your identity could always be found out.
I’m left with the prospect of keeping entirely mum about teaching, which is less than pleasing to me. Though I’m sure generalities about the students are fine (“those Berkeley undergrads sure are smart, they catch me screwing up all the time”), complaints are probably bad (“sometimes office hours are really annoying, especially when it’s clear people haven’t been going to lecture”), and naturally warnings are right out (“this exam is going to be a killer”). What is one to do?
Clearly I must err on the side of caution, if anything. I doubt more than a few students will be bored enough to cruise over to this blog. Perhaps I should make use of it to provide course content, like Brad DeLong does. But engineering is not suited to the blogosphere methinks. I guess I’ll just have to play it by ear. A very careful ear.