Privacy & Security in an Online Course

Students are awarded certain privacy rights through the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) included in the General Information section, and the Student Records Policy as provided by Public Law 93-380: Protection of Rights and Privacy of Parents and Students in the Student Handbook section of Southern Union's 2022-23 Interactive College Catalog.

Southern Union contracts with Instructure for use of the Canvas Learning Management System (LMS) to conduct distance learning activities.  Canvas employs strict preventative and detective mechanisms to ensure the security of this product.  Detailed reports on Security and Due Diligence are released annually to demonstrate Instructure’s compliance with industry best practices for security, availability, confidentiality, processing integrity, and privacy.

The Canvas LMS provides access to an online learning environment where individual student and faculty accounts are separated from other user accounts to ensure privacy. Users of the LMS log in to their online account using a unique email and password assigned by the College’s Student Information System (SIS) upon registration.

Students and faculty in distance education courses are informed of the importance of security in the online environment through Southern Union's Policy for Protecting the Privacy of Students Enrolled in Distance Education included in the 2022-23 Student Online Learning Handbook. This policy informs users of their responsibility to keep their account information private and secure, and recommends the user change the default password assigned to their account for additional security. A student's Canvas password may only be changed by the user within the LMS or by emailing, which is monitored by a limited number of college employees who have administrative access to reset forgotten passwords.

Additional Security of Online Coursework:  Faculty are informed of their responsibility to keep student information and grades private by posting course grades in the LMS’s secure grade book feature. Faculty are also encouraged to use various components within the LMS to ensure the safety, security, and integrity of the student’s coursework, such as:

  • Question groups that randomize the selection of quiz questions for each student. 
  • Instructor-provided passwords for quizzes, tests, and other graded assignments.
  • Time limits for quiz/test attempts.
  • Automatic shuffling of questions and shuffling of multiple-choice responses between student quiz/test attempts.
  • Browser security settings (lockdown browser) prohibiting access to other online sites and/or prohibiting printing during quizzes and tests.
  • Limiting student access to quiz/test grades or to review of graded quizzes/tests until all submissions have been graded.
  • Quiz/test item presentation options (one question per page, no returning to previous questions, etc.).
  • Limiting the number of attempts per quiz/test.
  • Time delays between subsequent attempts of quizzes or tests that allow multiple attempts.
  • Monitoring of student activity logs which record dates, times, and duration of access to graded assignments