From time to time, instructors have asked whether the People list or Inbox tools in CarmenCanvas violate FERPA or university computer use regulations by allowing students to see the names and have the ability to email other students enrolled courses with sections that meet together or are fully online.
As explained below, the presence of these tools in Carmen courses does not violate FERPA. Just as in a physical classroom, students can expect to know who else is in the class with them. University Responsible Use policies do not, just as is, prohibit students from emailing all their classmates; disruptions to the course should be dealt with regardless of the mechanism used to create the disorder.
The instructor may opt to hide the People list from the course navigation if desired. The Canvas email tool, Inbox, is part of the global navigation. It is not possible to prevent students from using Carmen to email classmates.
The section quoted below is from an analysis of the final version of FERPA (including 2008 changes), which is provided by the Family Policy Compliance Office (the agency charged with implementing FERPA). It clearly states that the sharing of students' email addresses and names within a classroom environment (physical or virtual) is not a violation of FERPA. This applies even if a student has opted out of disclosing directory information:
§ 99.37(c) Student identification and communication in class. Current regulations do not address whether a student who opts out of directory information disclosures may prevent school officials from identifying the student by name or from disclosing the student's electronic identifier or institutional email address in class. The final regulations provide specifically that an opt out of directory information disclosures does not prevent a school from identifying a student by name or from disclosing a student's electronic identifier or institutional email address in class. This change clarifies that a right to opt out of directory information disclosures does not include a right to remain anonymous in class, and may not be used to impede routine classroom communications and interactions, whether class is held in a specified physical location or on-line through electronic communications. No changes from the NPRM.