Thursday, January 21, 2010

An analog to Fair Use for FERPA

I'm in Austin Texas. This is wind up day for the ELI conference. The best presentations I've seen have been about the good guys fighting back on copyright by asserting their Fair Use rights.

It occurred to me at some other sessions that student privacy, which I've always taken to be about records, particularly for prior course work, perhaps inadvertently has been casting a dark cloud over teaching and learning, particularly with respect to within course grades (on quizzes, papers, projects, exams, etc.) I think a not in appropriate metaphor is to consider teaching and learning as conversation and grading as occasional punctuation within that conversation. We've been building systems and continue to build systems that focus on the punctuation. We seem to ignore the indirect effect that in the process our institutions deliver the implicit message - learning is about the punctuation.

We need to a way to be more directly assertive about learning. Our institutions need to be for learning as conversation. That happens in the open in communities. When the learning comes into conflict student privacy, that needs to be managed with discretion, not by fiat. I suspect in our over legalistic and regulated society that we need Federal Law to proclaim that. I've got no clue how to get there, but it seems to me we should be talking about this because right now we are being cowed by the forces of gloom t operate the other way.

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