ONLINE TOOLS GUIDE
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I sharing an education record (FERPA compliance)
Read these scenarios to understand how FERPA applies to use of non-ECU provided tools.
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)?
An off-campus vendor uses its servers to automatically grade electronic student assignments and send the grades back to the instructor.
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?
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 make your use of the tool compliant by doing one of the following
Obtaining signed, written, dated consent of each student for the release of his/her information to the vendor of the tool. 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.
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:
Electronic postings of student work do not contain grades or evaluative comments of the professor,
the students perform the posting rather than the professor,
students are notified prior to or at the time of enrollment that posting of their work is a course requirement, and
the posted work is available only to members of the class.
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), you can comply by ensuring that the third party recipient must be bound by contract to preserve confidentiality and to abide by FERPA. Such a contract must be reviewed by Materials Management or the Office of University Counsel.
If a, b, or c above cannot be implemented, please consult with the Office of the Registrar for FERPA Approval.
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 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.’ Learn more about the
Delegation of Authority
If you need assistance with a contract review, please consult with the department of Materials Management at 252.328.6434 or at
Can I use popular Social Media tools like Facebook and Twitter?
ECU has a Social Media Regulation that will provide 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 that belongs to a student or research that belongs 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 252.328.6434 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, please consult with the
Department for Disability Support Services
. For consultation, please contact Michael Thompson at 252.737.1025 at
Do I need an IT security assessment
I would like to store ECU sensitive data (FERPA, HIPPA, Financial, SSN, Banner ID, etc.) in a hosted tool not provided by the university?
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 questions above, then you will need to submit a service request to the
IT Help Desk
for a security assessment of the tool. The security 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 Zach Lock 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 give them notice
(Media Consent Release Guidelines)
. If you plan to use tools not provided by the university, then follow the process outlined, to assess the tool. Until a tool not provided by the university is approved, its use should be offered as a voluntary option to complete assignments by students in your course. It should not be required. For example, as an instructor you may want your students to create an online résumé. 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.
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