Monday, June 30, 2014

Social Networks, Research, and Ethical Questions

Many in academia have been looking at social networks and other large online sites as possible treasure troves of rich data for research. New data sets are out there, and they are more detailed than ever before! However, what are the ethical implications when researchers directly manipulate subject behavior (in the field, not in a lab setting), rather than simply analyzing natural actions?

News recently broke that Facebook manipulated a sample of users’ news feeds in either a more “positive” or “negative” direction, as part of a Psychology experiment:

http://www.theverge.com/2014/6/28/5852652/facebook-altered-689000-users-news-feeds-for-a-psychology-experiment

The aim of the experiment was to see if a “mood” could be manipulated and then spread through groups of users online, as has been shown possible in face-to-face settings in real life, through past research. The sources I’ve found so far do not mention whether any type of IRB review was involved, but it raises some disturbing questions. As more psychological/sociological research moves into private corporations, and out of universities, should similar standards of non-harm be followed? What is Facebook’s moral compass? As this story unfolds, it could be a fascinating class discussion about why and how certain academic safeguards came to exist.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/furor-erupts-over-facebook-experiment-on-users-1404085840

http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2014/06/30/326923945/lab-rats-one-and-all-that-unsettling-facebook-experiment

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Do Not Follow Links to eCampus

Always type https://ecampus.wvu.edu into the browser address bar yourself. This will avoid attacks that redirect you to a fake website in order to steal your username, password, or other information. An example of such an attack (known as spear phishing) can be seen in the image below. Notice that the web page looks like an exact replica of the new eCampus website, but the address is on a completely different server.

image003

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Clever ideas for skipping bullet point objectives

We're always looking for new ways to engage learners early on in a course. The folks at Articulate have presented some intriguing ideas for presenting learning objectives in ways that eliminate the boring bullet point list.

Here's a really short list of bullet points of the examples they demonstrate is their blog post:
  • Create Learning Objectives That Challenge the Learner
  • Add Meaningful Emotional Impact to Your Learning Objectives
Now, go see how they did it here...