Online Instructional Tools

This information is a collaborative effort presented to you by the Office of the Registrar, Department of Materials Management, Department for Disability Support Services, and ITCS.

A myriad of educational tools are available to administer and collect assessments, capture and store files, provide innovative presentation methods and collaborate with students. Examples of these tools include publisher and portfolio tools that are often an entire learning management system similar to Blackboard. Student data should be protected in accordance to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). According to FERPA, any information not considered directory information MAY NOT be disclosed to anyone except the student without prior written consent unless a specific regulatory exception applies. However, some might NOT be aware that use of many online solutions does not adhere to FERPA, state contractual rules, ADA and security compliance requirements. So, before you "click through" or require your students to use a tool not provided by ECU, please be advised that, while simple to use and in many cases free, these services may not meet university standards for user privacy, security, intellectual property protection, unfettered access, records retention and accessibility requirements.

As you consider the appropriate tools and technologies to meet your respective course objectives, we recommend you visit the Supported Software website for a list of ECU-supported software and Learning Technologies. In addition, contact distributed IT support in your college for the availability of discipline-specific software.

If you have determined there is not an existing university-supported tool to meet your instructional needs, and you are considering implementing an online (e.g., cloud based) solution, you need to be aware that any data hosted external to ECU, or in the "cloud," that is not purchased or approved by the university must follow this process.

Does this apply to you?

ADA is applicable in all situations; however, you may NOT need to seek additional approval from Materials Management and/or the University Registrar in the following situations:

  • If there is no data exchange, such as a daily news subscription, then you can accept the Terms and Conditions.
  • If there is no FERPA or other university data involved, or no Terms and Conditions, then you can move forward.
  • However, until a tool that is NOT provided by the University is approved, it should ONLY be offered as a voluntary option to students who are  completing class assignments. If you plan to use tools not provided by the university, then follow the process outlined below, to assess the tool.

Please complete the short survey below to identify tools needed for instruction and to pursue contracts or purchase tools most useful to you and your students.


Four Main Areas to Consider

There are four main areas to review when considering an unapproved university instructional tool:

  1. FERPA Data - the Office of the Registrar must know and approve the location of student records. Information provided in this communication can help you determine if you are using FERPA data. If you are requesting to host FERPA data using a tool not provided by the university, please submit the FERPA Data Permission form located in the IT service request system. Log in to The form is located on the left bottom of the screen, under the Other/Miscellaneouscategory.

    For more information or assistance interpreting FERPA, contact the Office of the Registrar at 252.328.6747.

  2. Terms and Conditions - otherwise known as "click-through" agreements, are considered contracts even if the tools are free. Contracts require the review of Materials Management. Materials Management and the Office of University Counsel will examine the terms and conditions of these contracts. For consultation, contact the Office of Materials Management at 252.328.6434 or at Please note that very few persons are authorized to enter contracts on behalf of the university. An employee who executes a contract on behalf of the university without authorization can be held personally liable for any contractual consequences and be subject to disciplinary action for violation of related policy.

  3. Software or online instructional tools must be reviewed for accessibility by Disability Support Services. For consultation contact Michael Thompson at 252.737.1020 or

  4. Hosted data service providers need to be reviewed by IT Security so all vulnerabilities and risks are understood. ITCS offers a security review process to help you understand the stability and security associated with your instructional tool. To initiate the process, submit a service request (see below) or call the IT Help Desk at 252.328.9866 | 800.340.7081. For questions on the process, contact Zach Loch at

    If you need to contact all these offices, initiate the entire process by requesting a security review:

    1. Log in to
    2. Select Security, Passwords & User Accounts from the list on the right side of the screen. A request form opens.
    3. Select IT Security Assessment as the category.
    4. Complete the remainder of the form and select the Submit button.

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