A Creepy Treehouse

You might want to avoid building one.

An interesting observation from the Chronicle of Higher Education:

A growing number of professors are experimenting with Facebook, Twitter, and other social-networking tools for their courses, but some students greet an invitation to join professors’ personal networks with horror, seeing faculty members as intruders in their private online spaces. Recognizing that, some professors have coined the term “creepy treehouse” to describe technological innovations by faculty members that make students’ skin crawl.

Jared Stein, director of instructional-design services at Utah Valley University, offered a clear definition of the term on his blog earlier this year. “Though such systems may be seen as innovative or problem-solving to the institution, they may repulse some users who see them as infringement on the sanctity of their peer groups, or as having the potential for institutional violations of their privacy, liberty, ownership, or creativity,” Mr. Stein wrote.

Alec Couros, an assistant professor of education at the University of Regina, in Canada, is coordinator of the education school’s information and communication technologies program. He says that there are productive — and non-creepy — ways for professors to use social-networking technologies, but that the best approach is to create online forums that students want to join, rather than forcing participation. “There’s a middle space I think you can find with students,” he says. —Jeffrey R. Young

This strikes me as one of those interesting cases where one might not be able to anticipate the attitudes of those on the other side.

3 thoughts on “A Creepy Treehouse

  1. Saying “creepy treehouse” sounds like an excellent defensive strategy in a risk-management committee meeting. For one thing, anyone trying to merge the personal space (social media, pub, hobbies) and workspace (class room, LMS) will have a hard time justifying “Operation Creepy Treehouse” or “Optimising social discomfort with familiarity based contempt” in the budget items.

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