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If you haven't already seen the active discussion posted here ( New FERPA requirements for cross-listed courses! ), LeRoy Rooker, the director of the United States Department of Education's Family Policy Compliance Office, recently answered a question on the AACRAO website where someone asked about cross-listing courses in the LMS.  The answer given greatly shook up many institutions:


The language concerns the student who has opted out of disclosures under the "directory information" exception to signed consent.  This permits the institution to identify that student in the class that the student is attending, but an institution could not use this limitation on the student to then permit the disclosure of the attendance information to another class.  (Ask the FERPA Professor| resources| AACRAO)


Essentially, students in Section A have no expectation of not being identified to other students in Section A, but opted-out students in Section A do have a FERPA protected right to not be identified to students in Section B. It appears that the door remains open for true, in-person, cross-listed courses since those students meet at the same time in the same physical classroom attending class with each other. This does, however, limit courses where one instructor teaches four sections of the same course and simply wants to cross-list those into one course in Canvas for their own convenience where the students would not normally attend class with each other in the physical classroom.


Another scenario to consider is related to Title IX.  Due to Title IX, we have had, and could have more situations, where a student is moved from one section to another to avoid contact with another student in the same section.  If that were to occur and sections have been combined in Canvas, those same students could potentially be put back into contact with one another by the institution in Canvas.


Course-based LTI integrations are also a cause of privacy concern for many institutions as discussed during an excellent presentation at InstructureCon 2016 titled LTIs and FERPA and in a feature discussion:


Unlike all the other content types included in this permission, which are all native to Canvas, LTI tools have the ability pass through a great deal of student data to a third-party site. This can create legal risks around FERPA and other laws related to student records and privacy.  (Add course-level & account-level permissions for LTI installation )



What can you do to help?

The most important thing that you can do to help is to make your voice heard -- talk to your CSM, talk to the Instructure leadership team participating in the forums like Jared Stein, talk to your Registrar or your CIO on your own campus, and participate in the online discussions here in the community.


Several excellent solutions have been discussed so far including a section-based privacy wall.  Visit these topics to join the discussion and vote for these feature requests:

     Now, this is a story all about how,

my life got flipped-turned upside down.

        And I'd like to take a minute,

              so just sit right there;

  I'll tell you how I became the prince

           of a town called Bay-lor.


Flipped classrooms are nothing new to world of higher education, but they aren't nearly as ubiquitous as they should be.  Since Canvas uses LTI standards to integrate with hundreds of third-party applications, we recently integrated Kaltura into every course in Canvas.  Now, recording short lectures online is as easy as one-click!  Instructors can spend quality class time evaluating, expanding on, and re-visiting information with students who come to class already prepared.

If you've seen the movie City Slickers starring Billy Crystal, you may remember the character Curly as a hard-nosed, grumpy, downright-ornery, old cowboy.  In the movie, he shares with Jack (the character played by Crystal) the secret of life through his famous "one thing" speech.


With that as my inspiration, I want to share with you the "one thing" that makes a successful start to a new semester for us -- building a team.  At our institution, we have designers in the second floor of one building, support people in the basement of another, system admins in another, departmental tech liaisons all over campus, our ITS Help Desk in yet another building, and Instructure support in a totally different state.  This makes for a challenging team to build, but it works.  It works because each part of the team knows the other members of the team, what they do, and how they operate.


These 5 things are what make our team successful:

  1. Our course designers also provide backup Canvas user support and training.  During the busy times of year, the designers grab calls and support tickets from our ITS Help Desk just like everyone else.
  2. Our team communicates with each other in a back-channel.  Specifically, we use Slack as a group messaging application.  All the members of our local team use this to discuss calls, troubleshoot problem issues, and to share horror stories from our users.
  3. Our team has a functional ticket tracking system to use for institutional purposes.  When users call our ITS Help Desk about an institution-specific issue or Instructure Tier One support sends a user back to us for assistance, that ticket is logged and tracked.
  4. Our team knows when to send things back to Instructure for additional support.  In all levels of our organization, users are encouraged to call the experts at Instructure for support with Canvas.  When a user contacts us, we make sure to answer their questions while also helping them learn to contact Instructure Tier One for future requests.  Our system admins are also in frequent communication with our CSMs.
  5. Our team has fun!  Just today, we met at lunch and played a few rounds of Exploding Kittens!!  Exploding Kittens - A card game for people who are into kittens and explosions and laser beams and sometimes goats

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