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Protecting Student Privacy Within the Virtual Learning Environment

As Drexel faculty, professional staff and students prepare for remote teaching and learning in the spring term, we want to remind you about the importance of protecting student privacy within the virtual learning environment.

Drexel has a continuing obligation under the Federal Educational Right and Privacy Act (FERPA) to protect the privacy and confidentiality of personally identifiable information (PII) contained in student education records.

What is PII?

What is an educational record?

Any information that is linkable or traceable to a student, including but not limited to:


Any record directly related to a student that Drexel maintains, including but not limited to:

  • Student’s name or other biographical information
  • Grades
  • Name of the student’s parent or other family member
  • Transcripts
  • Student’s address/their family’s address
  • Class lists
  • Personal identifiers like Social Security Number
  • Student course schedules
  • Indirect identifiers like student’s date of birth, place of birth, and mother’s maiden name
  • Student financial information
  • Other information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific student
  • Student papers or tests and other coursework

7 Best Practices for Protecting Student Information in Distance Education

  1. Use BlackBoard for all official, confidential communication such as providing feedback on student work or releasing grade information to students
  2. Avoid using educational technology or communication programs that Drexel does not support to interact with students.
  3. Keep student work, scores or grades confidential. Students in the course should not have access to other students' work or grades.
  4. Keep the account information for your Drexel email and learning technology programs secure. Do not share your login information, including your password, with anyone, or give anyone unauthorized access to your BlackBoard course, Microsoft Teams Site, or Zoom room.
  5. If you are recording a lecture or class, be mindful of sharing information in student education records. If any portion of your recording includes a discussion of grades, or students asking questions, making presentations or leading a class (other than Teaching Assistants), and it is possible to identify the students, then those portions of the recording constitute protected educational records. Protected educational records cannot be shared outside of that class, absent express written consent of the students. However, the portion of the recording that does not contain PII, or in which the PII has been removed, or deidentified, may be shared. Please contact Drexel’s Instructional Technology Group at regarding proper deidentification of student information before proceeding.
  6. Always ask yourself three (3) questions before sharing information:
    • Am I sharing student information or education records?
    • Can someone personally identify the student from this information?
    • Do I have the student’s express consent to share this information? 
  7. Always follow Drexel’s Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) policy for sharing student educational record information with other faculty, staff, parents or other individuals outside Drexel.

Please note: If you're trying to demonstrate to colleagues how to use Blackboard or any other learning management system, you should never access the “Grade Center” during your demonstrations.

Please contact the Institutional Technology Group at to request a Sandbox Course to copy in content for such demonstrations.