FERPA Compliance and Student Interaction in Merged Canvas Course Sections

Faculty may request to merge Canvas courses when they are teaching multiple sections of the same course in order to more efficiently share the same content across course sections, freeing up time for other instructional activity. This must be done prior to the start date of the course sections.

However, according to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations, students cannot have access to student information (including the fact of their enrollment) of students in course sections other than their own (with the exception noted below). Because of this requirement, students are not allowed to interact within a Canvas course with students from another course section.

Canvas limits the visibility of students from other sections in a merged Canvas course. However, this does not cover all Canvas tools, so if you request to merge Canvas courses, you’ll need to take additional steps to protect your students’ privacy, as outlined in this document.

NOTE: FERPA restrictions do not apply to a merged Canvas course if students physically meet in the same classroom at the same time (i.e. “true cross-listed courses”). Course sections that meet simultaneously typically are combined in Canvas by default, and this document is not relevant for those merged courses.

Handout: MiraCosta FERPA and Merged Canvas Courses (.docx ) (.pdf)

What Canvas Does for You

In Canvas courses merged upon faculty request, students are prevented from seeing students in sections other than their own in

  • the full roster view of the People tool,
  • and the Inbox (Conversations).

What You Must Do to Maintain FERPA Compliance

Click Settings in your course menu and:

  • Under the Navigation tab, be sure that the Chat and Conferences items are hidden from students. If they are active (appearing in the top grouping of navigation items), drag them to the lower grouping or click the gear icon at the right of each and click Disable. Be sure to scroll down and click Save at the bottom.

  • Under the Course Details tab, scroll down and click more options. Make sure that each of the following are NOT checked:
    Let students create discussion topics
    Let students organize their own groups
    Disable comments on announcements

    Click the Update Course Details button at bottom.

If/when you create Discussions

Ensure that each section has its own separate discussion:

  • For graded discussions, restrict each discussion to an individual section using the Assign to option. See Canvas guide for details. See further details on section restriction under the What You May Do section below.
  • For ungraded discussions, use the Post to option (immediately below the discussion description) to select an individual section for the discussion.

  • Note – if you want each section to engage in discussions about the same topics, simply Duplicate the original discussion and modify it so it is available to a different section of students.

If/when you create Groups

Select the option to Require group members to be in the same section when creating a group set. See Canvas guide for details.

If/when you create Collaborations

Be sure to add students to Collaborations who are enrolled in the same course section. The Collaboration setup screen doesn’t display section information for students, so you will need to refer to the People area.

If/when you send a Canvas Inbox message to students from multiple sections

Select the option to Send an individual message to each recipient. This will send a separate copy to each recipient and hide the names of the recipients in the message header. You may also compose messages addressed to all members of a specific course section.

What You May Do: Setting Calendar Events and Assignment Due Dates by Section

Note: This section is not required for FERPA compliance but may be helpful for managing a merged course if you would like to create differentiated events/activities for different sections.

The following Canvas Guides will help you create Canvas activities/assignments specific to a particular section within a merged course:

(Discussions must be separated by section – see notes in the What You Must Do section above.)

Note that when creating events/activities that are differentiated by section, you will need to select the section name in the Assign to area, which displays only a few options and is not scrollable. If your desired section is not displayed as an option, you will need to type in the section name until it shows up as an option to select.

Section names can be seen if you click Settings in the Course Menu and then the Sections tab. You may also click People in the course menu to see which section each enrolled student is assigned to.

Sections with students have names ending in -SURF; to include your test student account in any differentiated activity in a merged course, you would also need to include one of the -OTHER sections available within the merged course.

Acknowledgements

Portions of this document are adapted from material originally developed by Seattle University and modified by the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College district. Additional portions are adapted from material developed by Indiana University and modified by Cornell University.

Canvas User Profile Names

Faculty

The first and last name displayed in your Canvas profile is stored in the preferred name field within the Workday HR system. Once your preferred name is updated in the Workday HR system it will then update to Peoplesoft / SURF and update to Canvas during the next scheduled data transfer.

To update your first or last name for your Canvas profile:

  1. Log on to Workday
  2. Follow the directions in the handout: Workday – Manage your Preferred Name.

Any questions about Workday should be directed to the Workday Help Desk.  When a ticket is entered there, it is routed to the individual who can assist.

Human Resources can also be contact via email at :  HRCalendar@miracosta.edu

Note: If you update your preferred name in the Worday HR system for Canvas it will also update your instructor name on the SURF class schedule.

Please be advised that your permanent HR and payroll record will reflect your legal name unless you legally change your name and notify HR.

Students

The first and last name displayed in your Canvas profile is stored in the preferred name field within the Peoplesoft / SURF registration system. Once your preferred name is updated in Peoplesoft / SURF it will update in Canvas during the next scheduled SURF data transfer.

Please be advised that your permanent record will reflect your legal name unless you legally change your name through the courts and complete MiraCosta College Change of Information form.

Personal Pronouns in Canvas

Setting your Personal Pronouns in Canvas can help classmates, faculty, and people in the MiraCosta community learn to address each other the way each person would like to be addressed. That information will be available to instructors, students, and anyone who has access to Canvas courses, to enable inclusive and respectful conversation. 

Available Pronoun Options at MiraCosta College

  • He/Him/His
  • They/Them/Their
  • She/Her/Hers
  • (F)ae/(F)aer/(F)aer
  • Use my name
  • Xe/Xim
  • Ze (or Zie) / Zir (or Hir)
  • Per/per/pers
  • Ve/ver/vis
  • E/Ey/ Em/Eir

Submit a Request for Another Option

If you use pronouns that are not currently listed as options, please fill out the Pronoun Addition form and return it according to the instructions on the form.

Faculty Directions

Personal pronouns display after your name in various areas in Canvas as an instructor, including:

  • Assignment Creation Menu
  • Assignment Peer Review Page
  • Comment Fields
  • Course Sections List
  • Discussions
  • Inbox
  • People Page (Course and Groups)
  • SpeedGrader
  • Student Context Card
  • User Navigation Menu
  • User Profile Page
  • User Settings Page

Notes:

  • LTI tools, such as New Quizzes and Analytics, do not currently support displaying pronouns.

Student Directions

Personal pronouns display after your name in various areas in Canvas as a student, including:

  • Comment Fields
  • Discussions
  • Inbox
  • People Page (Course and Groups)
  • User Navigation Menu
  • User Profile Page
  • User Settings Page

Notes:

  • LTI tools, such as New Quizzes and Analytics, do not currently support displaying pronouns.

Dropped Students in Canvas – People Roster

Starting Spring 2018, students that drop a course in SURF after the semester has started remain on the People roster in Canvas, but with an inactive role. Students in the inactive role do not see or have access to the Canvas course, but faculty may access activities and grades of an inactive student. This is particularly helpful when a student grade is challenged or if a faculty member is evaluating whether a dropped student is eligible to be reinstated to a course.

People

Within the People roster on Canvas, students that have dropped will have the inactive tag displayed to the right of their name. This identifier will remain next to the student’s name throughout the course unless the student is reinstated to the course. Click the student’s name to access additional information about the student and review the student’s completed activities.

  • You cannot hide inactive students in the People roster.

Grades

Inactive students are hidden by default in the gradebook. To view the grades of inactive students, choose Show Inactive Enrollments in the Gradebook settings. For complete details, see: How do I view grades for inactive student enrollments in the Gradebook?

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