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FERPA Warning

Relevant Policies

UNCG reminds you that the use of UNCG information systems and services is covered by the following policies:

Other applicable and related policies can be found at the University Policy Manual, the Information Technology Services (ITS) site for Policies Related to Technology at UNCG, and Office of the Provost’s Policies and Publications.

In order to be in compliance with these policies and regulations, UNCG asks you to make every effort to protect student and other University data, and particularly confidential student data.  

Taking Action

To keep yourself, the University, and the student safe:

  • Be very careful with the types of information you transmit and save - choose to send/save the least amount of data, remove all personal identifiers, or include data in the aggregate only;
  • Do not include SSNs and only use student IDs when necessary and without name (if possible);
  • Exercise control over how and with whom you share information via digital services;
  • Securely delete any files that you no longer need.

See ITS’s site on Security and Compliance for your questions about data and device protection, and security professional services.

Background

FERPA divides all student data into two categories: directory, or public; and non-directory, or confidential.  

In accordance with FERPA and the University’s FERPA policy (The Student's Right of Access to Education Records and The Student's Right of Confidentiality), directory information includes: name, mailing and permanent addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, date of birth, county, state, or U.S. territory from which the student originally enrolled, major field of study, class (junior, senior, etc.), enrollment status (full-time, part-time, etc.), participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance and anticipated date of graduation, degrees and awards received, the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student, and honors information.

Confidential information is any other information that is not defined as directory information, notably: student ID, ethnicity and race, sex, schedule, grades, G.P.A., registration in courses, social security number (SSN), and parent name and address.

Students may request a FERPA Hold through the Registrar’s Office to restrict the release of their information, thus rendering all information, including directory information, to be confidential. When a student record is marked confidential, it is noted in Banner and we generally do not release any information about this student unless the student provides a FERPA consent form (PDF: requires a reader such as Adobe Reader). Certain exceptions to this rule apply. For more information about FERPA confidentiality and consent, contact the Office of the General Counsel at (336) 334-3067.

  • Instructors can see confidentiality marked for students on their class rosters in UNCGenie.
  • Advisors can see the confidentiality indicator on their advisee listings in UNCGenie.
  • Banner users can see the confidentiality on individual student records in Banner on SPAIDEN and other forms.

Departments can see confidentiality marked for their majors in the standard reports developed for the Departmental Reporting dashboard in WebFOCUS.

FERPA and Learning Management Systems - Blackboard Learn and Canvas

Blackboard Learn, Canvas, and other learning management systems allow instructors of record in Banner to elevate other users (not limited to students in their course sections) to roles that afford access to confidential student data. This presents a challenge for compliance with FERPA and related laws, regulations, and policies (see above).

Any user other than the course section instructor(s) assigned through Banner must understand their responsibilities under FERPA.

Please know that these roles are available in combined sections and users in the individual sections with these roles will have these same roles in a combined section.  In these instances, users with these roles have access to the student data from the combined rosters. This places the user, the department, the University, and the students at greater risk. Users who have not received FERPA instruction as part of training as new faculty or for graduate teaching assistantships (and those who would like refresher training) are encouraged to request FERPA instruction through the University Registrar’s Office, registrar@uncg.edu.

Blackboard Learn

Roles include Course Builder, Grader, Teaching Assistant, and Instructor. Of these roles, Grader, Teaching Assistant, and Instructor allow the user to see student data and to assign grades and all roles allow the user to view the roster. This access presents challenges for the University’s FERPA compliance, as well as a risk for the instructor and students.

  • Course Builder has limited access to specific student information, but can view the roster. If the user will be assisting by helping with course content, rather than instruction, Course Builder is most likely the appropriate role.
  • Grader assists the instructor with managing the Grade Center. A Grader has access to view and modify grades for students in the course as well as access Assignment and Test submissions.
  • Teaching Assistant (TA) has the same level access as an Instructor except a TA cannot enroll users into a course or modify a user’s role in the course. The Teaching Assistant role should only be assigned to a User who is a teaching assistant hired by the department and has completed the required Graduate School training.
  • Instructor has access to all areas of the control panel. This is the role given to the primary instructor of record as well as any co-instructors that are also developing, teaching or facilitating the course. Please note: If the User is another faculty member who is team teaching, it may be appropriate to have this person assigned to the course section through Banner. This is an easy update to make through the academic department sponsoring the course section, and would automatically grant the individual the Instructor role within Blackboard Learn.
  • If the User is a student in the course section, s/he should not have one of these roles. Course Builder may be a more appropriate role.

Canvas

Canvas has roles that are very similar to the roles available in Blackboard Learn.

  • Designer has limited access to specific student information. If the user will be assisting by helping with course content, rather than instruction, Designer is most likely the appropriate role.
  • Canvas does not have a specific “Grader” designation. The Teaching Assistant (TA) role is the available option for users that assist in the creation, management, delivery, and grading of items, such as tests and discussion board posts. TA has the same level of access an Instructor, however, a TA cannot add or remove users. The Teaching Assistant role may only be assigned to a User who is a teaching assistant hired by the department and has completed the required Graduate School training. Also, some students are approved as TAs, but not STAs, and therefore should not have responsibility for a course section. Consider whether the Designer role might meet the instructional needs for the course, rather than TA.
  • Instructor is available for a user approved to provide instruction at UNCG per the Provost’s Office. If the User is another faculty member who is team teaching, it may be appropriate to have this person assigned to the course section through Banner. This is an easy update to make through the academic department sponsoring the course section, and would automatically grant the individual the Instructor role within Canvas.
  • If the User is a student in the course section, s/he should not have one of these roles. Designer may be a more appropriate role.

If you have questions about functions and/or settings in Blackboard or Canvas, please contact 6-TECH at (336) 256-TECH (8324) or 6-TECH@uncg.edu. Concerns about the confidentiality of student information in the learning management system should be sent to registrar@uncg.edu.