Academic Freedom à la Twitter

A new report from the American Association of University Professors urges the protection of faculty members’ electronic communications.

By | December 6, 2013

WIKIMEDIA, MATTHEW BOWDEN WWW.DIGITALLYREFRESHING.COMmMuch like the public at large, academics do a lot of tweeting and Facebook posting these days. And increasingly, university professors use these modern media as vehicles to expand their classrooms out beyond the walls of their institutions. Assuring the freedom of these communications is a key component of assuring academic freedom in this new educational landscape, according to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), which just released a draft report reaffirming this principle.

The new report updates and expands on the AAUP’s 2004 report, which first broached the topic of extending traditional academic freedom protections to electronic media. “Developments since the publication of the 2004 report suggest that a fresh review of issues raised by the continuing growth and transformation of electronic communications technologies and by the evolution of law in this area is appropriate,” the new report reads. “For instance, the 2004 report focused largely on issues associated with e-mail and the posting of materials on websites, online bulletin boards, learning management systems, blogs, and listservs. Since then new social media, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, Tumblr, and Twitter, have emerged as important vehicles for electronic communication in the academy.”

Maintaining information security, respecting intellectual property rights, and assuring open academic discourse in light of modern modes of communication by faculty are just a few of the topics discussed in the new draft report, on which the AAUP will seek public comment until January 10, 2014. At that point it will seek to adopt a formal report codifying the tents laid out in the draft version.

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