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Changes often force us to adapt in ways we’ve never experienced, which can be a major driver of personal (and even professional) growth and development.


Student Privacy (FERPA) and Canvas

Students are able to choose to protect their Directory Information, which excludes them from the Cal Poly Online-Directory, ASI Student Directory, some email lists (club/alumni), and some Cal Poly mail.

But, Instructors are not required to accommodate student requests for anonymity in Canvas.

To view a list of students in a class with FERPA protected Directory Information, use the Printable Class List, available on the Portal - Registration & Enrollment / Printable Course Info Channel. Students who have protected their Directory Information will have a Yes under the FERPA column.

How Do Canvas Tools Display Student Names and Email?

  • Discussions: displays the first/last name.
  • Messages: displays the first/last name.
  • Groups: displays the first/last name.
  • Full Profile: displays first/last name.

Who Can Access a Canvas Course?

Canvas is a course system which allows instructors to provide course materials, assignments, collaboration tools and assessments for enrolled students. Only the instructor and those who are currently enrolled in the class will have access to the course and user information (name/email). Specific course and student information is not available to outside users.

What Are My Options for Supporting a Protected FERPA Student?

Instructors are not required to accommodate student requests for anonymity. The Canvas system will not allow instructors to hide the student's name and/or email address within the Discussion, Messages, or Groups.

Depending on the tool and activity, instructors may provide options for the student, although offering an alternative to Canvas is not required. 

For more information about FERPA Policies, please visit

Student Data within Canvas Courses

Educators often observe their students’ learning activities. For example, instructors note when students attend class, participate in discussions, ask questions, turn in assignments, complete a quiz, read the assigned readings, etc. These observations help them to better know how the class is going and when to make adjustments to enhance student learning. 

When learning management systems emerged as an important web-based platform supporting teaching and learning, many of these same observations were designed into such systems. That is true of the systems used at most universities, and it is true of Cal Poly’s current learning management system, Canvas. 

Canvas generates records (time/date stamped) of each student’s activities in a course, including the following:

  • Course logins and accumulated time in course
  • Page views
  • Submission of assignments
  • Start/end date and times for quizzes
  • Discussion posts
  • Editing of pages (if allowed by instructor)
  • Collaborations access (web conference)

Aggregated student analytics also provide the instructor with insights into course-level processes and students’ collective progress. These analytics are valuable to instructors for understanding student engagement and can be critical for achieving course objectives. Instructors are responsible for using course analytics according to the same rules that have guided instructors’ use of student course activity records prior to the introduction of such systems. The data must be kept confidential and used only by the instructor of record or a university administrator for legitimate educational purposes (for example, grading or accreditation). 

Detailed information about Canvas’s course analytics is public. Use the following links to learn more:

Canvas Analytics
Canvas New Analytics
How Faculty View Course Analytics


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