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Policy on Instructional Use of Social Media


Definition of Social Media

This policy defines social media as forms of electronic communication (such as websites and software applications designed to run on smartphones, tablet computers, and other mobile devices) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (e.g. videos or pictures). Some examples include, but are not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Flickr, Linked-in, and Google+.

Purview of This Policy

In three parts, this policy specifically addresses rules regarding usage of social media by faculty as an instructional tool. Part 1 focuses on protecting privacy of faculty and students. Part 2 addresses online conduct, which is divided into four categories: (1) academic freedom, (2) attribution, (3) copyright, and (4) online citizenship. Part Three provides that this policy must be reviewed periodically.

This policy works in partnership with the following University policies:

  •  Faculty Code of Ethics and Conduct [Policy 1Q1]

This policy does not apply to:

  • Promotional use of social media to advertise official University matters. For example, this policy does not address social media usage designed for marketing purposes, to recruit students, or to increase attendance at University events.  These activities are governed by the Social Media Policy for University Accounts [Policy 5F5].
  • Use of Blackboard, Moodle, or other University administered learning management systems, where access is restricted to members of a class and where logins are provided through the University. Such usages are governed by Responsible Use and Acceptable Use policies pertaining to computing and network communication services [ITS Policies].
  • Personal use of social media. This policy does not address your use of personal property and resources as an online citizen. However, correspondence with any student for whom the instructor currently has any teaching responsibility (including counseling and advising, supervision of independent studies, research, theses, and dissertation) is considered professional, no matter what technology is used, where you are located, or when the post is made.
  • Research use of social media. Research use of social media could include studying how others use social media, as well as using social media to gather data from and/or test reactions of others. These usages fall under existing policies that govern research with human subjects, and protocols should be defined and approved in consultation with the University’s IRB.
  • Using social media to communicate research, creative activities, and related products, including dissemination of results or promotion of sponsored, research-related activities. These activities are defined through grant documents and fall under any existing guidelines put forward by funding agencies, as well as through general standards of professional conduct.

PART 1: Protection of Faculty and Student Privacy

In relationship to coursework and mentoring, both for communications and assessment, it is of utmost importance that faculty allow students to maintain the level of privacy that they are most comfortable with. At no time should students feel coerced, compelled, or socially pressured to reveal their personal identity or any personally identifying information within a non-University provided online setting.  It is not possible for faculty to know when a student may have personal circumstances – such as estranged family members, stalkers, or other serious, and potentially harmful circumstances – that may prevent them from wanting to publicize their physical whereabouts or activities.  The only way to truly protect ourselves online is to not be online; however, it is possible to be online without being ourselves, such as by using pseudonyms if acceptable by social media terms of service.

In addition to protecting the privacy of our students, it is important that each faculty member protects his/her own privacy. Using personal accounts and storing information on personal electronic devices related to University business could result in actions under the Freedom of Information Act that allow others to view your personal accounts in order to determine what aspects pertain to University business (see Best practice dictates that University business not be conducted using personal accounts. The following actions are prohibited by this policy:

  • Requiring students to use their personal name, birth date, photos, or any other personally identifying information on social media.
  • Requiring students to use their University email address on any non-University sponsored website.
  • Engaging students in dialogue through social media that could be construed as unprofessional, harassing, or otherwise inappropriate.[i]
  • Engaging students in dialogue through social media that exposes confidential information.

This policy requires:

  • Faculty to prepare a written classroom policy when social media use is required as a course component. Classroom policies should adhere to the rules defined by this policy.
  • The classroom policy of social media use should be part of the syllabus and distributed in the beginning of the class.
  • When social media use is required as a course component, the consent form that is attached to this policy should be delivered to students along with the syllabus in the first class meeting. Online courses should deliver the consent form as a separate file in the beginning of the course.
  • Only those students who have a signed consent form on file with the faculty shall be allowed to participate in the social media components of the course.  If a student is under the age of 18, a parent or legal guardian should provide the authorization by signing the consent form.
  • Signed consent forms should be collected by faculty and kept along with all other course-related documents.

For students who have signed the consent form:

  • Prior to the start of each term in which the faculty member teaches a course in which social media is required as a course component, s/he shall do all of the following:
    • First, the faculty member shall examine each relevant social media platform’s terms of service to determine whether online personas without personally identifying information are allowed.
    • If a specific social media platform’s terms of service allow for the creation of online personas without personally identifying information, then the faculty member should permit students to create these personas without personally identifying information as allowed by under the social media platform’s terms of service.
    • If a specific social media platform’s terms of service do not allow for the creation of online personas without personally identifying information, then the faculty member must obtain permission from the social media platform to create online personas without personally identifying information for educational purposes.
      • If the social media platform grants this permission, then such permissions should be kept by faculty.
    • If the social media platform does not grant permission, then the faculty member must replace the assignment or class activity for those students who are unwilling to provide personally identifying information and do not agree with the terms and conditions of the social media platform.
      • The faculty member must provide a copy of this assignment to those students by no later than the first scheduled day of class.

For students who elect not to sign the consent form within the first week of classes:  

  • Faculty will determine alternative assignments that should be equivalent to the original assignment in terms of time and difficulty, and which would lead to the same or similar learning outcomes. Such alternative assignments shall be described in the syllabus along with the original assignment.    
  • If faculty cannot replace the assignment because of its importance for the course or not having any alternatives, student(s) should be allowed to drop from the course within the first week of the classes and take another course.
  • When the social media course is a required course for graduation, students who decline to sign a consent form must be provided with an alternative course offering to enable them to graduate.


1.    Protecting Academic Freedom

SIUE professors must prepare students for future success as professionals and good citizens.  Much employment requires the use of social media. Additionally, an understanding of social media platforms is becoming increasingly important for good cultural, political, and social citizenship.  Faculty need the freedom to effectively prepare students for this ever-changing landscape through appropriate means and without fear that their classroom will be unduly monitored without their knowledge.

2.    Attribution

Attribution of sources is important, and lack of proper attribution is considered an egregious academic offense (see Student Academic Standards and Performance Policy 1I6, Faculty Plagiarism Policy, and Responsible Use Policy 2D4 & 3C10). Anyone utilizing the Internet should be aware that while images and videos are often presented without correct attribution, this is still not appropriate behavior.

The following actions are required by this policy:

  • Faculty who evaluate students based on social media contributions must define in writing their expectations for how students will cite, attribute, link, or otherwise acknowledge the sources of content that they are sharing online.

3.    Copyright

 Faculty should be aware that the use of social media does not allow or promote sharing of proprietary information. SIUE’s General Institutional Information, Copyright and Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Information, provides links to resources regarding U.S. copyright law and SIUE policies related to copyright. In addition, faculty should be aware of University policies regarding the use of SIUE trademarked logos and wordmarks outlined in the Wordmark and Logo Policy and the Logo and Trademark Licensing Administrative Policy Statement.

 The following actions are required by this policy:

  • Faculty and students must be aware of copyright, intellectual property rights, and fair use where applicable within their classrooms, using social media for classes, and as allowed by social media terms of service. 
  • Faculty and students must ensure that any and all use of SIUE wordmarks and/or logos are in compliance with the Wordmark and Logo Requirements.
  • Faculty and students must obtain approval from Marketing and Communications for any and all uses of SIUE wordmarks and/or logos.

4.    Online Citizenship

A social media classroom is analogous in many ways to a traditional classroom. When entering online environments for instructional purposes, members of the University community are expected to abide by the same values of citizenship and community that they expect of one another in other professional environments. This applies both for instructional and mentoring usages, as well as for all professional and collegiate communications. This document works in partnership with the existing Employee Listserv Policy and does not supplant its required terms of conduct (see

This policy requires that:

  • faculty and students follow University codes of conduct within online social media environments.
  • faculty outline expectations for conduct in writing whenever they intend to use social media in the classroom.
  • student complaints against faculty must be handled under the same policies that are applicable to the face-to-face classroom.
  • faculty complaints against other faculty for their instruction with respect to social media must be handled through existing grievance policies.

PART 3: Policy Review

The Faculty Senate shall review this policy by no later than the end of the Spring 2017 semester. The Faculty Senate shall also review this policy every three years after the first review has taken place. These reviews must consider whether this policy adequately regulates the use of social media, any omissions in the current policy, any ways in which this policy can be improved, and feedback from the faculty, the Provost and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs as well as other units on campus.

Consent Form to be Used by Faculty Teaching Face-to-Face Classes

Consent Form to be Used by Faculty Teaching Hybrid or Online Classes

Welfare Council #07-13/14
Approved by Faculty Senate 05/02/14
Approved by the Provost 05/28/14
Approved by the Chancellor 08/14/14




[i] Consider the following cases of online actions having material, physical, and emotional consequences



Approved by Welfare Council: January 20, 2014

Revisions approved by Welfare Council: February 27, 2014


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