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Blackboard Help

Privacy and Personal Information for Course Instructors, Organization Leaders, and Similar Roles

Blackboard users who have access to the Control Panel of a course or organization may be allowed to view personally identifiable information because they are “school officials with legitimate educational interest.” Users with access to the Control Panel can view—and in some cases change—personal information for users in that specific course or organization, including grades and other education records, passwords, roles in courses and organizations, and contact information. Therefore institutions should use caution and good judgment when granting users course or organization roles that have privileges to access the paths listed below.

Privileges can be customized by the institution to limit which course and organization roles have access to users’ personal information. As a security precaution, only the administrators can modify privileges. Institutions can achieve a satisfactory balance between protecting privacy and giving users with “legitimate educational interest” the information they need to do their jobs by assigning roles and configuring privileges appropriately.

Course and organization roles cannot have separate privileges. Given the fact that organizations may be led by individuals who are not "school officials with legitimate educational interest" extra caution should be taken to ensure personal information is not being disclosed without permission.

Course and Organization Control Panel Paths

The following paths give access to personal information.

Course and Organization Control Panel Paths
Control Panel (Assessment) > Course/Organization Statistics
  > Early Warning System -OR- Retention Center. The tool you see is determined by your school.
  > Grade Center
  > Performance Dashboard
Control Panel (Content Areas) > Manage Content Item (adaptive release and review status)
Control Panel (Options) > Archive Course/Organization
  > Archive Course/Organization > Copy Course/Organization with Users (Exact Copy)
Control Panel (Tools) > Collaboration
  > Course/Organization Portfolios (content management only)
  > Course Messages
  > Send Email
Control Panel (User Management) > Enroll User
  > List/Modify Users
  > Manage Groups

User Selector

When an instructor or leader needs to select another user in various parts of the system, to enroll them in a course or organization for example, they can browse for other users with the User Selector, which displays users’ names, usernames, and email addresses. With the exception of the Content Colleciton, this function is only available to administrators, instructors and leaders (and similar roles) in courses and organizations, and managers in the outcomes system, all of whom are considered “school officials with legitimate educational interest.”

Content Management

One of the primary purposes of the Content Collection is for users to share content with one another. Users can be uniquely identified only by their usernames, so the username is displayed as part of the path in the /users directory. In order to select which people to give permission to for sharing, a user will see a list of other users in the User Selector, which displays the users’ names and usernames.

If the institution wants to restrict this display of personal information, they can set the content management privacy settings so that only users who have opted in to be included in the User Directory will be included in searches in the content management User Selector. This setting is under Administrator Panel > Content Management > Content Management Settings > Privacy Settings.

Users can also independently decide not to share any content that is in their /users directory with other users in the system. This action prevents others from seeing their username in the path for that content. Alternatively, users can send passes and permanent URLs to other users to share content, hiding the path location of the content and protecting their usernames from being revealed.

Grade Center

Teaching assistants that will be evaluating students will have access to the same types of personal information as instructors do with regards to student records and are considered “school officials with legitimate educational interest." They may, however, be limited to a subset of students enrolled in the course. Teaching assistants need to be made aware of FERPA regulations as part of their orientation and training for the course.

Observers have access to view the student records, including grades, of the students they are observing. In most cases, observers are parents of students under the age of 18, or “school officials with legitimate educational interest" such as guidance councilors, athletic coaches, or tutors.

Discussion Board

The name of a user who posts to the discussion board will display, along with the posting, to all users in the course or organization or within the group (if it is a group discussion). To avoid this display of personal information, the user can choose to post to the discussion board anonymously if this option has been enabled by the instructor or leader.

Virtual Classroom and Chat

The name of a user participating in a virtual classroom session or chat displays to other participants in the same session. The User Information pop-up displays the personal information that the user has chosen to make available. To learn more, see User Directory and Personal Information Disclosure.

If the moderator has turned on recording for the session, the user’s name is included in the recording with any contributions the user made to the session. The moderator may decide to make the recording available to all users in the course or organization or group if it is a group collaboration. Recording is turned off by default, and if it is turned on, recordings are by default not available to all users.

Email

The names of email recipients display on the Send Email pages. The email addresses of the recipients do not display in either the Send Email pages or in the email that the users receive. All email is sent by the Blackboard system as "blind carbon copy" (BCC). This means that one user who receives the email will not see the names or email addresses of other users who receive the same message. The name and email address of the user who sent the message will be visible to all recipients when they receive the message.

Groups

The names of users included in a group within a course or organization are listed on the group page, which is accessible to other users included in that same group. If the user has chosen to make their email address available, their email address is also listed on the group page. To learn more, see User Directory and Personal Information Disclosure.

Course Messages

The names of message recipients display on the Compose Message page. The name of the user who sent a course message to another user is displayed to the user who receives the message.

Portfolios

The user can choose to share a portfolio with a specific course or organization, in which case it will be listed under course or organization portfolios and be accessible by everyone in the course or organization. The only information available in the portfolio is determined by the user. The user can also choose to remove the sharing of the portfolio from the course or organization at any time.

Roster

The names of students or participants enrolled in a course or organization are listed in the roster. If the student has chosen to make their email address available, their email address is also listed in the roster. To learn more, see User Directory and Personal Information Disclosure.

Guests and Observers

Users with the system role of guest cannot see other users’ personal information.

Users with the course or organization role of guest cannot see other users’ personal information.

Observers have access to view the student records, including grades, of the students they are observing. In most cases, observers are parents of students under the age of 18, or “school officials with legitimate educational interest" such as guidance councilors, athletic coaches, or tutors.

To protect student privacy and comply with international, national and regional laws and regulations, such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) in the United States, review institutional policy and guidelines before releasing student information to Observers or other users.