Topics Map > Campus Services
Topics Map > Policies

Canvas - Complying with FERPA when Combining Sections

Learn how to comply with FERPA regulations when combining multiple sections for teaching purposes in Canvas. Adapted from guidelines developed at Eastern Florida State College.


Faculty teaching the same course in different online sections of their courses in Canvas to save time distributing the same content to students across multiple course sections.

Due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations, students may not have access to student information of course sections they are not enrolled in. Therefore, students may not interact in Canvas with students from another course section. In order to have students interact, they must sign a FERPA Consent to Release Information form. You should use this form as part of an upgraded Canvas assignment that requires the students to submit the completed form in such a way that records are maintained in the course.
Below are alternative ways to ensure FERPA is met, the steps outlined below show how to comply regulations in a combined section Canvas site.

Distributing Course Content

Faculty must remove the People, Chat, Conferences, and Collaborations course navigation tabs from their Canvas course site. This will restrict students' ability to view and interact with another course section.
Additionally, student comments should be disabled when posting course Announcements for all sections in cross-listed course sites. Follow the steps below to disable this feature.
In the Course Navigation, click the Settings link.
The "settings" button in the course navigation
Click the Course Details tab.
The "course details" tab
Click the more options link.
The "more options" button
Check the Disable comments on announcements checkbox.
The "Disable comments on announcements" option checked
Click the Update Course Details button.
The "Update Course Details" button

Sending Messages to Course Sections

To send messages to students in a particular course section, make sure to select each section separately when sending out each message.

Setting Calendar Events and Assignment Due Dates by Section

A single calendar event can have varied dates for each section in your course. Please see the Canvas guide: How do I set a different calendar event date for each section in my course?
You should also create Assignments for specific sections and graded discussions for each section. Using Differentiated Assignments, you can create a graded assignment for a specific section of a merged course. Differentiated Assignments also allow you to create graded assignment due dates and availability dates by course section.

Creating Student Groups to Facilitate Student Interaction

It is recommended that faculty create Canvas Student Groups identical to the course section to allow student interactions within course sections of a merged Canvas course. After creating Canvas Student Groups, there will be separate group work spaces for each course section inside the course. As an instructor, you can view all of the student activity within a group by clicking any of the group navigation links.

Facilitating Discussions by Section

Once Canvas student groups are created identical to section enrollments, faculty can set up group discussions to separate student posts, ensuring that students only see discussion posts from classmates in their course section.

Zoom Synchronous Meetings and Asynchronous Recordings

  1. Department of Education FERPA guidelines for photos and videos
  2. Guidance for Recording Class sessions with Zoom
  3. Student voices, images, or names CANNOT be shared outside their assigned section. Possible ways to handle this when combining sections is to receive written permission using the FERPA Consent to Release Information form. You should use this form as part of an ungraded Canvas assignment that requires the students to submit the completed form in such a way that records are maintained in the course.

Keywordscanvas, guide, complying, with, FERPA, when, combining, multiple, sections, for, teaching, purposes   Doc ID119938
OwnerBeth A.GroupUW Platteville
Created2022-07-27 09:59 CSTUpdated2023-06-14 09:15 CST
SitesUW Platteville
Feedback  0   0