Okay, I scrolled over my posts for the semester and deleted two which referred to my recent plagiarism case. I have always been careful about the way I blog about students, but this is the incident that made me think very hard about this issue. I do not believe that the posts I deleted say anything that could be harmful to me or the student--in fact they revealed very little info about the case and were two of the shortest posts I have ever written. Just a couple of sentences each. But plagiarism is such a serious and touchy issue that I don't think there is a good way to blog about a case even in the vaguest terms.
So here's another post I want to question. In it I refer to general problems with my class, but I also mention a specific student (not by name, of course) who had not purchased a textbook. Is it okay to refer to one particular student in a blog?
I do believe that the way I discussed my class has been ethical, and I don't think it is anything that could get me into trouble (except that the fact that I have a blog at all is enough in some people's opinion to label me a trouble-maker or a slacker who spends too much time frivolously playing online instead of doing real work--but that's another issue and there's been plenty talk about that already). The problems of an online class are important to discuss and this electronic forum is the perfect medium for it. I believe that blogging about general class issues is useful and ethical, but I still have questions about any reference to a particular student, even when it is vague and anonymous.
Edited to add: I am not so concerned with the question of "Could I get fired for this?" although that is one way to look at it. I am really concerned about whether it is ethical behavior and if it might be some violation of students' trust.