Social Media, Moodle and Online Communications

This policy statement interfaces with Trinity’s Policy on Technology and Telecommunications and other related policy statements on information management, privacy and risk management.

Trinity Website, Facebook, Twitter, Related Trinity Social Media

Trinity recognizes the broad array of communications and networking tools available in the online environment. Trinity is not responsible for any blogs, online journals, social networking sites or other communications and information tools except those that the university chooses to maintain officially on its own website or in other locations, e.g., Trinity Facebook pages, Trinity Twitter feeds. Only Trinity’s officially maintained and approved website and official social media sites may use Trinity’s logo, domain name and symbols.

Trinity has no official relationship, nor does Trinity approve, any communications or references that occur on other websites, blogs or other social networking sites, or other Internet locations, and Trinity accepts no responsibility for materials that appear or communications or representations that occur on such external websites.

In the same way, while Trinity’s web pages may include links to information on other websites, such links do not mean that Trinity endorses all points of view of the linked organizations.

Trinity faculty, staff and students must observe all laws and regulations regarding copyright, intellectual property and plagiarism rules when linking material from other websites or other sources to Trinity’s web pages. Trinity reserves the right to delete any materials posted on Trinity’s own web pages, Moodle pages, Facebook Pages, Twitter feeds and other sites that Trinity controls.

Personal Blogs, Facebook Pages, Twitter Feeds, Other Social Media

Trinity faculty, staff and students may maintain their own websites, blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and engage in the full range of social media.

Trinity reminds all members of the Trinity community that all communications that appear in the public eye should take care to observe reasonable boundaries of respect, truthfulness and lawful conduct.   Trinity’s Honor System applies regardless of the place where the communications occur, and Trinity reserves the right to take appropriate disciplinary action whenever Trinity discovers threatening, dishonest, defamatory or illegal conduct online, even if the conduct occurs through an external website or social media site. Such conduct might include, but is not limited to, evidence of drug use or underage drinking, harassment or slander, extortion, child pornography and criminal activity of any kind.

Even on personal websites or blogs, Trinity personnel must observe Trinity’s policies protecting the privacy of students, faculty and staff, as well as Trinity’s proprietary information that the personnel may have obtained in the course of working at Trinity.  All Trinity documents, data and information, plans and related materials are the property of Trinity, and no one may release such materials through any social media channel without Trinity’s explicit permission.

Trinity personnel should not “friend” students on social media; all relationships between students and personnel of Trinity are governed by the Policy on Harassment, and inappropriate communications via social media may violate that policy and incur disciplinary action.Trinity provides official email addresses and telephone numbers so that students, faculty and staff may communicate effectively through official channels.

With limited exceptions, employees should not give students their personal cellphone numbers, and texting should be limited.  This guidance protects both employees and students from claims of inappropriate communications that can become harassment claims.

Moodle Course Management System, Academic Use of Social Media

Trinity maintains the Moodle Course Management System for all courses and academic communications among students and faculty.  All faculty should use the Moodle system for coursework.  Faculty should not use other academic systems in lieu of Moodle.

In recognition of the fact that faculty may use social media in ways that are important supplements to the use of Moodle as the primary course management system, Trinity provides this guidance:

  • Moodle remains as the primary course management system, and all courses must have course websites in Moodle; all student communications must occur through Moodle or Trinity email, not external email or external sites;
  • All use of social media must be public and professional; Faculty may not use their personal Facebook pages, personal Twitter feeds or other personal websites or social media for Trinity instructional purposes; Faculty and staff may not “friend” Trinity students on their private social media pages;
  • Trinity reserves the right to take action to limit student exposure to potential harm in the use of social media by faculty or staff; for example, student papers, photographs and other personal information may not appear on social media without the student’s consent, and all such appearances for academic purposes must be professional;
    • Example of appropriate use of social media for coursework:  the faculty member’s professional disciplinary association calls for examples of student work to publish on a blog on the association website, and students readily agree to have their papers published; or a faculty member invites students to participate in commenting on a newspaper story involving an issue of importance to a class discussion; a faculty member gives an assignment that requires students to create blogs on topics related to the discipline and these blogs appear on a professional website with the students’ knowledge and agreement;
    • Example of an inappropriate use of social media:  a faculty member posts photographs of students on her personal Facebook page (regardless of student permission, such posting is inappropriate and not allowed under Trinity’s policies); a staff member discusses student business on her Twitter feed; a faculty member tells students that assignments have to be linked to his personal Facebook page or his personal blog rather than to Moodle.

Questions?  Trinity has many personnel ready and eager to assist faculty, staff and students with Moodle, website maintenance, appropriate use of Internet resources and related issues in social media, including:

Michael Burback, Director of Technology Services

Timothy Russell, Assistant Vice President for Online Communications

Katie Wanschura, Director of Instructional Technologies