FERPA restricts the sharing of student educational records (i.e. records in any medium that relate to an identifiable student) without permission, except as allowed under certain exemptions. In our new virtual instruction environment, faculty have expressed concern around remaining FERPA compliant. This short document is an attempt to answer some of the common questions around specific tools that we use. Note: FERPA does not offer anonymity from other students enrolled in a class. Class recordings need to be protected in accordance with FERPA in that only those enrolled in the class or those that need to see the recording in order to perform their job, can be given access.
Recorded Course Content
- Course content that does not involve any identifiable student information does not implicate FERPA. Asynchronous lectures depicting only the faculty member, whether generated by Zoom or Kaltura would all be acceptable and can be distributed assuming there are no independent reasons for restricting access such as copyright concerns addressed in other materials.
- If students are included in the recordings, for example, through questions or interactions, or any other inclusion of student identifiable information, then the sessions can only be distributed within the course.
If the plan for recorded material is for it to be shared outside the course, such as on social media, then we need to give students full notice of this and the reason for this expectation. Student waivers must be utilized. An example of a bona fide reason why such a strategy may be employed, is, for example, an assignment where students sponsor a public webinar (recorded and shared on social media) on a course project.
- In summary, recorded content that includes students that is only available in an online course doesn’t require waivers. It is good practice to let students know the session is being recorded, why, and how it will be accessed. Setting norms around the sanctity of the online classroom is also encouraged. If recorded class content is to be shared publicly, we need to explain how it will be used, where, and have students sign a waiver informing them of this and documenting their consent.
The following vendors/products have been approved as FERPA-compliant or FERPA-compliant under conditions noted (such as with Zoom or Kaltura), through contractual agreement with the University’s Safeguarding Standards.
Zoom sessions can be expected to be FERPA compliant, and Zoom recordings that are made to the cloud, will be FERPA compliant. The processed recordings are to only be posted to a platform accessible by students enrolled in the class or those that need to see the recording in order to perform their job (e.g., not posted to public web sites or social media, etc.).
Kaltura can be used in numerous ways to produce recordings, involving or not involving students. If students are involved, the principles noted above would apply, i.e. recordings should be accessible only by members of the class.
Classroom activities within Brightspace can be expected to be FERPA compliant.
GSuite for Education
GSuite for Education (formerly called Google Apps for Education) can be expected to be FERPA compliant. GSuite for Education FERPA-compliant services are: Gmail, Calendar, Classroom, Jamboard, Contacts, Drive, Docs, Forms, Groups, Sheets, Sites, Slides, Meet, and Chat. Note that some protections are needed to maintain FERPA compliance, such as not sharing to wider audiences.
Box is acceptable for FERPA data through the end of the Fall 2020 semester, at which time it will be discontinued. Microsoft OneDrive is scheduled to replace Box in Feb 2021, and will be acceptable for FERPA data.
Non-University-Provided Products (such as YouTube or social media)
These products are not FERPA compliant. Therefore, if there is any student involvement in the session, these products are not allowed for recording or sharing information that includes student images or data, except for bona fide academic purpose and with restrictions noted above, e.g., the use of waivers.
In order to stay within the bounds of “fair use”, access to lectures incorporating unlicensed third-party content such as photographic images and sound recordings should be limited to members of the class and not posted on public platforms.