The digital sphere offers humanities instructors a rare and valuable opportunity to have students create knowledge that can transcend the classroom and the class assignment. Whether this knowledge takes the form of Wikipedia entries, websites, contributions to crowdsourcing platforms, or online maps and timelines, it shows undergraduates that they can be contributors to our disciplines, not just consumers. But for this work to become “real”, it must be publicly available online. This raises a number of questions. How do we protect student privacy? What are our legal obligations with respect to student work published online and student online identities? How do we guarantee the quality of the information produced? Should we offer it to the world with caveats about its sources? What kind of citation practices should we demand of our students? How do we deal with the widespread copy-paste plagiarism that characterizes the web and frequently emerges in such assignments? How do we make it possible for students to participate while protecting their own privacy? How do we accommodate students who wish to opt out of the public component of such assignments?
This session will involve a frank discussion of these issues and how the participants have dealt with them in their own teaching. It will also include a review of FERPA laws as interpreted at UT Austin, as well as an overview of solutions some other institutions and individuals have come up with in this area.