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How to get along without your university’s LMS and other tech tools.

28 August 2019, Dropbox, Google Drive and Google Docs–all of these are useful tools for teaching. But they also carry some responsibilities for ensuring we protect students’ data and their right to privacy. There are two relevant policies: GDPR and FERPA.

To be in compliance with FERPA:

What you CAN do:

1. You can share files and reading materials with students through DropBox or Google Drive.

2. You can ask students to turn in assignments using DropBox. The file request feature allows students to send you files without sharing their work with other students.

Please Don’t do any of these:

1. Send any student grade information through text or private email.

2. Discuss students with colleagues via text or private email.

3. Ask students to publicly share any information that might reveal their grades, their location, their course enrollment or schedule, and other personal academic information.

To be in compliance with GDPR:

1. Ask for your students’ consent to collect their data. For example, if you are asking students to provide you with their personal email address or phone number so that you can add them to a shared Google folder or a platform like, ask for their consent first. Keep in mind that some of these platforms allow students to sign up or access information without giving you their personal information. If students do not want to share their personal email, you might encourage them to create a free email account (gmail, yahoo, etc) just for use at school.

2. If you collected students’ email addresses or other personal contact information (separate from university systems like Worldclass or Webadvisor), make sure you permanently delete all of the student data you have collected at the end of the term.

Please also keep equity and accessibility in mind:

Some of our students do not have smart phones or data plans. Those students have no easy way of accessing the internet right now. If you are distributing materials or collecting assignments electronically, please be sure to include additional options for those students.

If you have questions about making sure your electronic materials are accessible, you can contact CETL at

Use the Discussion space below to share how you’re teaching without technology!

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