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Every once in a while, my students write something outrageously funny in their homework, either on purpose or by accident, and I'd love to share these short quotes with a colleague/friend for mutual enjoyment (and maybe catharsis!).

I know FERPA bars me from revealing student grades, statuses, etc., but I don't know what the rules are about 1) revealing what students have written to a third party, or 2) anonymizing students. I also don't know if it matters if I mention what class or semester this happened in.

Can I share a brief, anonymous, quote from one of my students to colleagues or friends?

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Can you: YES

Should you: NO

Imagine if the quote/anecdote got back to your student. While no one else would know who said it, the student who said it would know. Even if it never makes it back to that student, other students will know you are making fun of students. That is not good for your reputation or for student learning.

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    You know, like many other things in life, it's a trade-off between fun and risk :-) May 8, 2017 at 19:27
  • I personally wouldn't share it with students — just trusted friends. Also, the point wouldn't be to "make fun of" them as much as it is to appreciate the silliness of an intentional joke or to laugh over a typo in just the right place. (I suppose as FERPA is blind to intent, perhaps your point stands.)
    – jvriesem
    May 8, 2017 at 19:31
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    @MassimoOrtolano I agree. Was thinking of adding something about the fact that it is quite common. I often do it and frequently laugh about the comments others share. That doesn't make it right or advisable. I try and share my stupid teaching moments when conversations go down that road. They are almost always funnier.
    – StrongBad
    May 8, 2017 at 19:31
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    @jvriesem I don't think it has anything to do with FERPA. It is precisely the fact that you (nor I) would not share these with students that makes me question wether they would see it as being made fun of.
    – StrongBad
    May 8, 2017 at 19:33
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    There's a right way and many wrong ways to share an anecdote about somebody's mistake, but whether or not we ought to do so is a different question that may be highly situational. I'm curious about the legality of it, which is why I brought up FERPA. If it's illegal under FERPA, then it's highly relevant.
    – jvriesem
    May 8, 2017 at 20:49

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