Monday, July 28, 2014

Something New Being Tested at TLC


The iDesign Classroom and iDesign Instructional groups of WVU's Teaching and Learning Commons have teamed up to work on something new. The photo below shows Instructional Designer David Murphy working on the prototype for a new teaching device. Can you guess what it is? Stay tuned for future updates!
David Murphy with the half-built prototype.

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.

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