Thursday, September 18, 2008

Concordia limits Facebook

My school has throttled Facebook on the internal Ethernet LAN. Wow, that's jargon. If you plug in on campus, you don't get Facebook. If you're wireless, you can hit Facebook all day.

Privacy/intellectual-property advocate Michael Geist, who's coincidentally speaking at Concordia this week, thinks "this sends the wrong message to students."

Facebook is more than just a popular social network. It can be a tool for advocacy and education as well as a mechanism for student groups to connect. Even if it wasn't useful, this would still be wrong. Simply put, universities should not be in the business of blocking access to legitimate, legal websites.

First of all, it's "Web sites" and I'll go to my grave advocating that.

Secondly, Facebook is one of three nemeses in the computer lab in which I teach. The real wrong message for students is "don't pay attention in class when you can chat and visit Facebook instead." Concordia needs to ban instant messaging, too. Other than the fact that the student gets less out of class time, it's just plain rude.

E-mail is an important tool of communication, and I bear no grudges toward that. Checking your e-mail during class is also rude, though. So is a cell phone going off.

Geist is right and wrong about Facebook's utility for students. He's right about the utility - rather, the potential utility, but he doesn't consider immediacy in his criticism. Nothing appears on Facebook that a student can't put off a few hours until at home.

In an ideal world, Concordia wouldn't have to block access to Facebook on its computers. Nor would it have to use anti-virus software. And students would come to class to learn.

My agreement for blocking Facebook doesn't exactly mesh with Concordia's reasons for blocking it, but agree I do. The biggest downside to Concordia's action is that now I can't go to the 24 computers in my lab and tour the pages of those students who don't sign out of Facebook.


Blogger Naila J. said...

Here's my comment on banning Facebook at Concordia... Ironically posted on Facebook.

I'm responding to the claim Concordia made in the Gazette that they banned Facebook because of increased scams like phishing.

"It's not Facebook's fault someone is impersonating Concordia.
Students and staff should be made aware of how they can protect themselves, retain privacy online, and pick out the scams.
Banning Facebook will serve no purpose but to make people more susceptible to scams in the future."

September 18, 2008 10:21 PM  
Blogger Wendy Smith said...

ITA Laurie.
By and large, students are not using Facebook in class for the purposes Geist cites. And if they want to use it as "a tool for advocacy " or "a mechanism for student groups to connect," I don't think it'll kill them to wait until class is over to engage in said advocacy/connection. It goes along with the whole culture of disrespect/entitlement among today's students - I think Naomi Klein commented that they are "cruising, shopping, disengaged." It's just sickening, and must be really frustrating for somebody in your shoes.

September 19, 2008 3:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geist is right. It isn't Concordia's business, and it isn't anyone else's. For no reason other than the fact that Concordia students pay through the nose for everything, including that access. If students want to fail, for whatever reason (and dazed, they often do), that's their problem, because the University isn't paying their tuition. If Concordia were the students' workplace, where they were being compensated for their time, it would be different, but my marks are my problem (and despite my facebooking, they're in the 1st percentile.

Are you under the impression that freedom (especially when I pay for it) consists in nanny-like restriction? If so, to to hell with you and the horse you rode in on.

January 29, 2009 6:50 PM  

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