New FERPA requirements for cross-listed courses!

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With this statement that just came out today from LeRoy Rooker, what will be Instructure’s take on this interpretation of FERPA?  What will your institution's take be on this interpretation?

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Essentially, LeRoy Rooker’s statement is that an institution can allow a student to see other students in a course for which the student is officially registered, but cannot allow a student to see (or be seen by) other students in another (cross-listed) class in the LMS.  To me, it sounds like the door remains open for true cross-listed, in-person courses (like a Psychology and Neuroscience course which are really one-in-the-same, but some students register as PSY and others as NEU) since those students meet at the same time in the same physical classroom with each other.  But this new interpretation seems to shut down courses where one instructor teaches 4 sections of the same Accounting course and simply wants to cross-list those into one course shell in Canvas for the sake of their own convenience and the students would not normally see each other in the physical classroom since they are 4 separate Accounting classes.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Alternate interpretations of LeRoy's answer?  How will you adapt in Canvas?

Deactivated user​, Deactivated user​,  @Renee_Carney ​,  @scottdennis ​, mitch​,  @jared ​

2 Solutions

"I can think of many reasons why a student in Class A would not want to be identified by students in Class B, but reasons do not matter, .."

Kelly, out of curiosity, might you be able to give some reasons?

In a physical classroom, a student in class A can be identified by any other student in Class A, and this doesn't seem to be a problem.  Also, a student in Class B can walk by the Class A classroom and see who is in it.  In fact, anyone can walk by a classroom and see who is in it.  (Will schools need to cover all classroom windows?)

Yes, reasons do not matter, but if there is not solid logic behind the reason, maybe the rule should be challenged.

(I am probably the only one who does not understand this, so I look forward to some explanations.  I anticipate being sorry that I asked.)

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I am in agreement with this comment.  There is simply little logic behind these interpretations.  FERPA does trump convenience, but let's apply FERPA logically.  Any student in a course on campus could be identified as being in that course by someone simply seeing them in a classroom.  Our student email systems within the whole college allows any student to message any other student.  There is nothing isolating about students being in separate courses.

The entire conversation hinges on whether a student might be in danger or find offense in being in a course with another student that would be dangerous to them.  When a student enrolls in a course, they don't know who will be in that course when the course finally meets.  If they fear associating with another student, then they might look at the course roster after they have registered.  The student doesn't have control over the registration process, nor would we alter the entire process for a single student.  The essential element is does the student have the ability to know who is in the class and can they freely decide to change their situation if they find a problem.  This interpretation is about students having the knowledge and the ability to keep themselves safe.

Just as students won't know who is registered in a course before or after they register, if courses were merged, there is no way that they would know.  Just as a student would solve the issue by looking at a roster of their registered class and make a decision for their own safety, they can look at the roster for a merged set of sections and make a decision as to their safety.  It is the exact same process.  How do we extend danger to merged sections but not use the same logic for a student simply registering for a single course?  Something is not logical here.  I believe that the only issue for the student would be awareness.  If the college or instructor clearly states that several sections will be or are merged and that you could be associating with students in other sections of the same course, you have now given the student the same awareness that they would have had from simply registering for any single section of a course.

Please someone shoot down my logic.  Have I missed something?  It seems like we are trying to use FERPA to eliminate the fraction of a gram of danger for a student.  I am committed to that reduction as well, but it is not possible to do that in the real world.  The answer is to give students the knowledge that they need to keep themselves safe.  The solution to this issue is to make students aware and if they find an issue to help them resolve that problem by every means possible.

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