The Privacy Pyramid

Which parts of your website should be password protected? What belongs behind the login?

Chances are, members of your school community have an opinion: staff, faculty, alumni, parents and even students. There are legal considerations, too, depending on the country you live in and the age(s) of the students you work with. Somewhere between the legal guidelines, security, school policies and personal preference lies the squishy compromise that allows content stewards to determine what can be available to anyone in the general public to see, and what’s protected with a password for internal viewing only.

privacy pyramid

This graphic is meant to help give you a way to think about the different levels of privacy. Note that this is an inverted pyramid: private content is in the smallest piece of the pyramid, public content in the largest. The most controversial piece is the middle section – to be determined by your community, your security team, your Head of School.

privacy pyramid explained

Examples of the types of content in these categories are above. Private content will usually include family contact information: phone numbers, post and email addresses. The potentially sensitive content section can contain several options, all to be determined by your stakeholders. A few notes:

Faculty directory: this can include all sorts of details, such as photos, email addresses, phone numbers and even short bios. My take? The more information you can share publicly about your fantastic teachers, the better. It also helps the faculty members to increase their professional digital footprint.

Student surnames: do you name students on your website? First and last names? Class year? Do you name students in photos? Whatever you decide, be sure to be clear about your policies with parents. At the beginning of the school year as part of the re-enrollment process, have all families sign consent forms acknowledging acceptance of the policy.

Calendars: sharing generic details (“Band trip to Zurich” and “field trip”) is not the same as publishing exact itineraries and travel documents. Err on the side of vague if there is a concern. Also be aware of what other schools publish about your school. Take athletics, for example: if the opposing teams post their schedules publicly, your school’s schedules are as good as public too.

Photos/videos: Do you post photos of kids at all? This can be one of the most controversial discussions/decisions for your school. Always consider the legal ramifications for your particular country and age group. However, there are obvious benefits to showing student photos, including showing what the school community is really like, and how students engage with faculty and one another in your school’s learning environment.

While it is important to have buy-in from your constituents, privacy issues can’t be “design by committee.” Your highest level of administration (principals, head of communications, security team, advancement) should support the decisions on these items and move forward with policies.


Routine Maintenance

Your online communications tools and protocols require continual upkeep. Just like your home or your car, you rely on these tools and use them regularly. Here are a few ideas for keeping your online communications engine running.

Get a Tuneup
Brush up on social media tools and online trends regularly, as well as the latest your CMS provider has to offer. Do you know about the latest platforms and tools? What are the newest features and changes on the platforms you use? Have you taken full advantage of them where applicable, or at least given them a try? You should be able to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of these tools, including the latest additions. On the flipside, take a hard look at the pieces you currently use and pay for. This sort of internal audit will help you determine what you might be spending time on, or paying for, that you don’t need.

Change the Oil
When is the last time you reviewed your privacy policies, terms of use, user agreements or other policies surrounding your social media and online presences?  Given the frequency of updates and changes in the online world, it is important to make sure your policies and procedures are up-to-date. Re-read these policy documents every 12 months and confirm that no changes or additions are necessary.

Check Your Spare
If your entire network went down, what would you do? If you store your policies and procedures on your servers, how would you get to them? Create a “low-tech” backup and print your policies and procedures, social media documentation, social media strategy and other important documentation (e.g., emergency contacts, crisis communications plan, contact information for vendors and other key players) —just in case. You don’t want to get caught without this key information if your systems fail.

This piece is cross-posted on the CASE Social Media Blog.

Can’t We All Just Get Along: Web & Print Communications

I’m delivering two seminars on social media at Castle Press in Pasadena, California. Yes: a printing company has asked me to talk to its clients about web communications and social technology.

This leads me to an important point: computer-based communications have captured a great deal of attention of late. This does not mean that printed communications are useless and irrelevant. Quite the contrary, in fact: I believe that bringing together print and pixels is key to creating a cohesive, comprehensive communications strategy. Don’t let trendy software determine your communications strategy. Instead, think about your goals, audiences, budget and messages. Then, use those as the basis for developing your strategy. Just because “everyone else” is using a particular tool doesn’t mean it’s the right tool for the goals you’re trying to reach.

Social Bookmarks: A Useful Tool You Aren’t Using

What is social bookmarking?

According to Wikipedia: a method for Internet users to share, organize, search, and manage bookmarks of web resources. In other words: keeping track of stuff you find on the web, and making it easy for others to find. The key to all of this is tagging – assigning keywords to each bookmark to help keep them organized and easy to locate when you need them. Social Bookmarking hasn’t caught on like Twitter or Facebook. But it’s incredibly useful for keeping track of links, resources, blog posts and all sorts of things we come across on the web and think, “I need to remember this” or “I might want to refer to this later.”

Among the most popular sites for social bookmarking are Diigo and Delicious. Delicious allows you to save and tag bookmarks, connect with other users, and subscribe to individual users’ bookmarks with RSS. An example: Mark Greenfield’s bookmarks are an excellent resource (username markgr). Mark makes great use of tags and has more than 2500 bookmarked resources. Want to know more about Twitter? Click the twitter tag in his list and you’re set.

Diigo offers a full suite of tools to help keep tabs on your bookmarks, and share them with others – it’s ideal if you’re engaged in a research project and/or collaborating with others. You can highlight specific sections of a site’s content or leave comments for others to find. Diigo also boasts a group feature, which allows users to self identify and share links with others interested in the same subject. We’re planning to use a Diigo group as a resource for the attendees of the CASE Social Media and Community Conference (thanks to Joel Price, a member of our faculty, for setting it up).  It’s brand new, and we’ll start populating it with content in the weeks to come.

And that’s Social Bookmarking in a nutshell. Give it a shot. It will save you from many  “now where did I read that?” moments.

Thanks Twitter, Facebook: How I Got News about the Eureka Earthquake

I’m from Eureka, a relatively rural town of about 30,000 people in Northern California. For those of you unfamiliar with the foggy, green, quiet town where I was born and raised, here’s a map.

Saturday afternoon, Eureka was hit with a 6.5 earthquake. The majority of my extended family still lives in Eureka, and I was very concerned. Not only about the potential for earthquake damage, but about the potential for a tsunami (there was one up there in the 60s, and it killed 11 people). My sister and I weren’t able to reach our Mom and Dad right away; cell signals were dead and land lines were unreliable.

So how did I get details about what happened and how the town fared? From the Internet, of course.

But not from online newspapers. No, I got my info from my Facebook network and from Twitter:

Mind you, these posts are from Facebook friends who don’t even live in Eureka any longer, but they had spoken to their respective families. This at least reassured me that Eureka wasn’t underwater, or complete rubble.

Twitter gave me some other pieces to the puzzle as well, thanks to the #Eureka hashtag (search it now for ongoing info). Even Mashable was running a story that featured user @amyeureka‘s Twitter photos of the aftermath.

Thanks to all of these, I was able to at least get some idea of the current status: no reported deaths, no tsunamis, no obliterated buildings. Just a lot of broken glass, toppled bookcases and broken chimneys. I could make a somewhat reasonable assumption that at least my family was alive, though maybe missing a few picture frames and glassware. And I wouldn’t have obtained that information from broadcast news or the paper.

The good news? I was finally able to make contact with my family: thankfully, the only casualty at Mom and Dad’s was a television.