Documentation:Digital Tattoo Curriculum/Case Studies Information and Technology Students/Questionable Comments

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When used appropriately, social media can be a source of connection and community for professionals.

Table Discussion

In groups of 3-4:

1. Read the case study and consider your response to the personal reflection question as you read.

2. Discuss each question below with your group, using the resources to support your responses.

3. Take notes on your discussion to share when the large group reconvenes.

Personal Reflection

While reading the case study, consider your personal response to the following question:

How would I respond to seeing a fellow colleague make inappropriate comments through social media?

Case Study

someone texting - hand on a cell phone

Note: This scenario takes place outside of the current COVID-19 pandemic, but COVID can present significant demands on similar scenarios. Consider both how you might respond both during COVID and outside of it.

Before beginning their work placements for the Professional Experience Certificate in Digital Media, Communication and Technology, Chris, Marlow, Fernando, and Isabelle, a group of ICCIT students, were placed in the same town and created a private Facebook group and a group chat through text so that they could share resources, discuss their experiences, and plan times to connect outside of school. Because each of these students is trying to monitor their use of social media in order to avoid breaching any professional practices and standards, they decided to communicate through these private groups, as opposed to posting on any public profiles. Recognizing that they could help one another by monitoring their social media interactions, all of the students agreed not to post comments about each other or share any photos from their gatherings without asking for permission.

When Isabelle, Chris, Marlow and Fernando began their work placements, the Facebook group and group chat were primarily used to share resources, bounce ideas off of each other, and arrange meeting times and Zoom meet-ups. As the work placements continued Chris and Isabelle found themselves especially stressed because of increased workloads, disruptions from co-workers, and difficult interactions with placement supervisors that the students did not enjoy working under. Their frustrations were evident, as all the students had begun using the private Facebook groups as a way to vent about these situations and let off steam. Chris in particular found their co-workers to be consistently unmotivated which made the projects that they were doing with those folks difficult for them to manage. Chris also felt unfairly scrutinized by their work placement supervisor for their inability to maintain project timeline. They felt that the supervisor’s criticisms were unfair, especially because the supervisor wasn’t often present in the office; therefore, the supervisor was not there to help them find solutions to manage their project more effectively. Chris continued to express their frustration to Isabelle, Marlow, and Fernando through their texts and Facebook conversations, making comments like “I hope my co-workers enjoy their jobless futures!” and “Seriously, if this work placement supervisor is in charge of evaluating me, SHE SHOULD STAY IN THE OFFICE WHILE I AM HERE!” One day, while Chris and their coworkers were working on a project together. While the others on the team were brainstorming, Chris took photos of some of the co-workers ideas and later sent the pictures to the group chat, saying “Look at these hilarious answers- not even close! These people are such idiots sometimes. Maybe if they tried paying attention in our meeting they wouldn’t give answers like these!”

Isabelle understands Chris’ frustration about the difficulties of project managing and getting support from a work placement supervisor, as her placement has been frustrating too; however, she also feels that the comments Chris makes are inappropriate--even if their co-workers and the placement supervisor can’t see them--as they are unprofessional. Because she is a part of the Facebook group, Isabelle is worried that not saying or doing anything about Chris’ posts could suggest that she agrees with the things they said and that she is enabling Chris to continue sending these kinds of messages. She also worries that because the co-workers’ suggestions are so amusing, other group members will screen shot the messages and circulate them to others. At the same time, she considers Chris a friend and she recognizes the need for students to protect one another. She does not want to upset the other folks on the private Facebook group and group chat, especially Chris, by sharing the texts and Facebook posts with their professor or the school administrators, but she is also not comfortable ignoring them, especially if her name is associated with the group messages.

Discussion Questions

1. Do Chris’ comments, made through private text exchanges and Facebook groups, violate social media policies and/or guidelines? Can comments like these be grounds for discipline? Who could be impacted by Chris’ messages?

Consider these resources as you brainstorm:

2. What would you do in Isabelle's situation? Is it reasonable for her to consider sharing the messages she deems inappropriate? What should she consider when making a decision?

Consider these resources as you brainstorm:

3. To what extent can we expect privacy when communicating digitally? What should professionals consider before sending messages to colleagues through social media?

Consider these resources as you brainstorm:

4.What are the benefits of communicating with professionals in your field through social media? How would you use social media to connect with colleagues and how would you ensure that it is used effectively and appropriately?

Consider these resources as you brainstorm:

Additional Resources

  • The Principal of Change blog: "Personal and Professional vs. Public and Privat
  • Read "Professional Conduct Advisory: Professional Boundaries and Social Media” on page 14.Read "Professional Conduct Advisory: Professional Boundaries and Social Media” on page 14.

Sharing Permissions

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Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document according to the terms in Creative Commons License, Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0. The full text of this license may be found here: CC by-sa 4.0

When re-using this resource, please attribute as follows: developed by the University of British Columbia: Digital Tattoo – Case Studies Project Team.

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