Frequently Asked Questions

Am I using FERPA data?

Read these scenarios to understand how FERPA data applies to you.

  1. If students submit information electronically, is the information accessible to anyone other than the student who submits it and ECU employees who need to know the information to carry out their job duties (typically, the instructor and ITCS)? Example: An off-campus vendor uses its servers to automatically grade electronic student assignments and send the grades back to the instructor.
  2. Do you (as instructor) send information about a student to anyone other than (1) the student or (2) ECU employees who need to know the information to carry out their job duties? Examples: The instructor posts student work for other students in the class to review, or a person or computer at the university makes student information available to a vendor who provides online supplemental services for course management software or for textbook materials.

If you answer ‘yes’ to either of the questions above, you may fulfill the FERPA duty by one of the following:

A. Student Consent

One way to comply is by obtaining signed, written, dated consent of each student for the release of his/her information. This consent must be completely voluntary; that is, students who decline to provide consent must not be denied any academic opportunity or privilege or suffer any adverse consequences.

B. Student Comments Only Available to Other Students in the Course

For communications and posting of student work for electronic discussion among students in a class, the express written consent of students is NOT required provided that:

i. Electronic postings of student work do not contain grades or evaluative comments of the professor,
ii. the students perform the posting rather than the professor,
iii. students are notified prior to or at the time of enrollment that posting of their work is a course requirement, and
iv. the posted work is available only to members of the class.


C. Outside Parties under Contract to the University

Where an outside party, such as a vendor, receives student information (e.g. for grading, or access to online supplemental materials provided by a textbook publisher), the third party recipient should be bound by contract to preserve confidentiality and to abide by FERPA.

Special Exception

Do you require students to send a letter to the editor, or post to a non-university blog, or post to a social networking site not affiliated with faculty, or comparable activity?

If yes, please consult with the Office of the Registrar for FERPA approval.

Can I click an ‘I ACCEPT BUTTON’ for the free tool that I want to use in my class?

Click-through agreements, license agreements, service agreements, and terms and conditions are considered contracts and require the review of Materials Management or the University Attorney's Office, unless you have ‘Delegation of Authority to Sign Contracts’. Visit the Policies, Regulations and Rules site to learn more about the Delegation of Authority to Sign Contracts.

If you need assistance with a contract review, please consult with the department of Materials Management at 328.6434 or at .

Can I use popular Social Media tools like Facebook and Twitter?

ECU has a Social Media Regulation that provides guidance on using social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. The regulation can be found at

Will any information be shared or stored (e.g, intellectual property) which could include instructional work belonging to a student or research belonging to a faculty member?

If yes, then you need to be concerned if the terms and conditions require you to sign over your intellectual property rights. You cannot require a student to consent to terms and conditions where they must give up their intellectual property rights. For assistance, please consult with the Department of Materials Management at 328.6434 or at

Does the tool meet disability accessibility requirements?

ECU ensures that individuals with disabilities have access to reasonable accommodations and services, and adheres to the requirements and philosophy of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. To ensure your technology meets these requirements, consult with the Department for Disability Support Services. Contact Michael Thompson at 252.737.1025 or

Do I need an ITCS Assessment?

  1. I would like to store ECU sensitive data (FERPA, HIPPA, Financial, SSN, Banner ID, etc.) in a hosted tool not provided by the university.
  2. The system requires users to provide their ECU credentials AND/OR stores a password that does not follow ECU standards.

If you can answer ‘yes’ to either of the statements above, then you will need to complete and submit the ITCS Assessment Form. The ITCS Assessment will address vendor data security, audit controls, data backup procedures, ECU retrieval of data if required by legal, and documentation on who your data will be shared with and how long your data will be used. If you have questions about the ITCS Assessment process please contact Hector Molina at

What type of information should I include in my syllabus about technology?

The syllabus creates expectations between you and the student, so the more detail you can outline about the course in the syllabus, the better. If you plan to use technology tools in the classroom or record your students, you need to provide notice, visit the Media Consent Release Guidelines for more information. If you plan to use tools not provided by the university, then we recommend you follow the process outlined in this FAQ. In some cases, there may be other tools not provided by the university that you want students to use in your course. We recommend that these additional tools are offered as choices and not requirements. If there is a university provided tool that can be your fall back, then even better. For example, you may want your students to create an online resume. You could give your students the choice of using a number of tools in the cloud if they want their site to be public facing OR they could use one of the tools provided by the university which enables them to secure their information.