Transcripts, Professionalism, and Protecting Personal Information

The Admin Centre does not routinely evaluate AskAway transcripts, but from time to time a local coordinator or service provider will bring to our attention a transcript that concerns them.
Lately a couple of issues have come up:

  1. Requesting personal information from a patron
  2. Professional conduct

Requesting personal information from a patron such as name or email address is absolutely against AskAway policy and puts the service in contravention of BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy regulations. We cannot collect this information because the transcripts are saved on U.S. servers. More information is available in theĀ AskAway Service Guidelines.
Balancing approachability with professionalism can be tricky, especially in an online environment where cues such as voice and facial expressions are lost. Students often leave positive comments about how they feel comfortable asking for help from AskAway service providers, and how the AskAwayer they talked to expressed kindness. Often it makes sense to take cues from patrons, such as deciding to use an emoticon after a patron has used one, or adjusting language or tone, but please think about when to draw the line in conversation, even if a patron crosses that line. Also please keep in mind:

  • Service providers are representing their own institution, and also other BC and Yukon institutions
  • All transcripts are visible to other service providers, the admin centre, and local coordinators - so please don't have a conversation on AskAway that you wouldn't want those groups of people to read
  • If a conversation does veer toward an unprofessional area, it's your role to steer it back, or to lead the conversation to a close, e.g.,

"Thanks for sharing that joke. Did you have a chance to check out
that link that I sent you? Does it answer your question, or would
you like some more information?"
"Well, we should probably be getting back to your citation questions.
Could you tell me what style you are using (APA, MLA, etc.)? "
"I appreciate the movie recommendation - perhaps I will check it out.
Do you have any other course-related questions I can help with?"
These instances are not the norm; for the most part, AskAwayers protect personal information, display professionalism, and are greatly appreciated by patrons and all institutions. This is just a reminder to all in response to a couple of recent issues. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Sunni or I at the Admin Centre.

- Reece, BC ELN