Privacy and Teaching – Best Practices and Tips

Privacy and Teaching – Best Practices and Tips

Updated May 2017 by Adam Cullum (Information Governance Officer)

  • If you are using any tools or services that will collect, store, use or disclose student personal information outside of UNBC servers or off UNBC property, contact your Information Governance Officer to ensure your tools and services are compliant with FIPPA.
  • Be prepared to meet your requirement to request informed consent to manage your students’ personal information using tools or services that transmit this information outside of UNBC, especially cloud storage or external service providers. The Information Governance Officer can help you prepare a form to receive informed consent from your students.
  • Do not post grades or other personal information publically including but not limited to posting on doors, or sending them through mass emails.
  • Do not use portable electronic devices, including but not limited to USB keys or external hard drives, to store class lists, marks, and other personal or confidential information.
  • Don’t send grades in the subject line or body of an email. For feedback on papers, exams or other assignments that include marks, send each student an individual email with the grade(s) attached in an encrypted password protected pdf using Adobe Acrobat Pro, link the grades to Blackboard, or give the assignment back to the student in person.
  • If emailing multiple recipients in one email containing content that would associate the individuals with personal experiences of demographic information they may not want disclosed, use BCC instead of CC. Only use CC when everyone in the email already knows how the information could be associated with everyone included, or in cases where work is being done collaboratively.
  • Turn off auto-fill for your email. To do so in Outlook go to the File menu, select Options, then select the Mail tab.  Scroll down the options until you reach the Send messages category and unclick the option near the bottom of this category titled “Use Auto-Complete List to suggest names when typing in the To, CC, and BCC lines
  • Do not speak about or write down personal or confidential information in committee or other group settings unless everyone in that setting has a right and need to know that information.
  • Ensure you are using appropriate physical security measures such as locked filing cabinets, and restricting access to offices. Do not give your set of keys that you use to access your office or records storage areas to anyone. If someone needs access to an office they can contact Security to let them in if that person is allowed access.
  • Ensure encryption and password protection are applied where possible. Contact ITS for assistance.
  • Separate and secure any student work that has not been returned to students from other departmental or office records. Confidentially shred these materials if they are not collected after a year. Inform the students of these practices in the course syllabus.
  • After serving on committees, return all confidential material to the chair of the committee or recording secretary for shredding.
  • Disclose personal and confidential information on a need to know basis only. Be prepared to be able to justify why you have made a disclosure of personal or confidential information.
  • Avoid making a record consisting of subjective comments about students or others in the university community unless you are prepared for the consequences of the individual reading those subjective comments. Keep recorded information factual.
  • If you are making an audio or video recording, post signage or notice that indicates where the audio or video recording will take place.
  • Be sure that others working under your supervision, including Teaching Assistants, Research Assistants and Term Instructors, know and follow these same practices. Regularly check in with your team to make sure they understand their responsibility to protect the personal and confidential information they manage. Be available to answer questions or direct them to resources like the Information Governance Officer for further assistance.