By Jared Fields, Sports Editor
Faculty met in the Living Room of the Campus Center on Thursday to discuss online community forums like Facebook.com and MySpace.com.
Web sites like Facebook allow users to create online profiles that can be seen by other users and gives people a chance to communicate on the Internet.
The meeting focused on informing faculty about Facebook and how it affects students.
Some of the problems discussed in the forum students providing too much information online for potential employers or graduate schools to view or for stalkers to find.
George Saltsman, director of education technology for the Adams Center of Teaching Excellence, was one of the moderators for the program and said the focus was mainly for teachers.
“We wanted to create a forum in which faculty could come together and ask questions,” Saltsman said. “It was a faculty dialogue regarding Facebook, just like a classroom discussion.”
Dr. Bill Rankin, associate professor of English, said faculty showed enough interest in the meeting to force a change of location.
“There is tons of interest,” Rankin said. “I think faculty have been slower to catch on, but people are really interested.”
While the focus of the meeting was educating faculty about Facebook, student safety was also an important topic discussed.
Dr. Wayne Barnard, dean of Campus Life, said he thinks Facebook has great potential to benefit faculty and students, that people need more education about it.
“It’s clear right now that we need to do some education of Facebook and MySpace,” Barnard said. “In the fall, this will lead to informing students more. I think we’ll see some policies develop.”
Barnard said that any changes in policy are unknown now, but they are a possibility.
“We don’t want to surprise students with new policies. The real reason of this is not for the university, it’s for students,” Barnard said. “We want to help students make good decisions.”
Rankin shares Barnard’s concerns for students.
“We want people to think seriously about what they’re doing,” Rankin said. “That doesn’t just concern Facebook, but everything here.”
Saltsman said he wants professors to know the dangers students can face from posting too much information on Facebook.
“We’re concerned about what students put on there, and we need faculty to be aware of what those risks are,” Saltsman said.
Dr. K.B. Massingill, director of the Adams Center, said any learning on campus has to be centered around faculty, and Facebook gives professors that chance.
“A lot of what we base learning on is social learning theory, and it says 90 percent of learning occurs outside the classroom,” Massingill said. “So we have this huge social phenomenon and 90 percent of learning occurring outside the classroom: that creates a great opportunity.”