Wallace Community College (WCC) is committed to protecting the privacy of records independent of course delivery methodology. As such, the College complies will all the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which provides for the protection of student educational records, including those of distance education students. These records are considered confidential and may not be released without the written consent of the student. However, some information is considered public, and this information may be released without the student’s written permission. Some examples of public information include the student’s name, address, telephone number, date of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, and degrees and awards received by the student. However, the student may opt to consider this public information confidential as well by signing a Do Not Release Directory Information form during the first two weeks of the term. The forms are available from the Admissions and Records Office on the Wallace Campus in Dothan and the Student Affairs Office on the Sparks Campus in Eufaula. This form must be resubmitted annually. The Director of Enrollment Services/Registrar is the point of contact for all FERPA related issues.
All courses, including online courses, are hosted on Wallace Community College’s (WCC) secure learning management system, Blackboard Learn. WCC uses Blackboard Learn to administer, document, and deliver curricular courses. Blackboard Learn requires all users to log in with an individual username and password, as discussed below.
Secure Login and Password
The identity verification process for online courses protects a student’s privacy through the use of a secure portal, with a secure login and password. Faculty can post assignments and exams within the learning management system to ensure the privacy of student information. Wallace Community College also issues each student a nine-digit student identification number (A#), which is described below.
When students are first admitted to Wallace Community College, each student is issued a nine-digit student identification number (A#) and a unique email address. The A# is randomly generated, unique to each student, and becomes the unique identifier for students throughout their enrollment.
The email address is used by the student to log into the majority of systems at Wallace including Blackboard Learn, email, Office 365, and OneACCS (new myWCC). Both students and faculty are responsible for the security of their secure-portal passwords and are required to use strong passwords.
Information is not stored on WCC’s campus since modern software, including most LMS systems, is moving to a Software as a Service (SaaS) model, under which software is hosted in central servers in the “cloud”. All information stored in Blackboard Learn is stored and backed up in secure data centers run by Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the United States. The AWS system is secure because all data flowing across the global network that interconnects AWS datacenters and regions is automatically encrypted at the physical layer before it leaves the AWS secured facilities. Additional encrypting layers also exist at the WCC site. This is a secure system used by many public institutions.
Test Proctoring Validity
Student identity is confirmed when students test using Examity to proctor online exams. In order to begin an exam, they must show either a government-issued or WCC student identification. Only WCC students have access to the exam through Examity. Without the identification, the student will not be able to begin the exam. You can read more about Examity’s privacy and security policies at https://www.examity.com/features/privacy-and-security/.
Information Collected Automatically in Blackboard Learn
The following types of personal information may be automatically collected and stored in Blackboard Learn’s server logs:
- The Internet protocol address of the computer that accessed Blackboard Learn;
- Device event information such as crashes, system activity, hardware settings, browser type, browser language, the date and time of your request, and referral URL;
- On-page click events including, but not limited to login events, viewing content pages, launching tools, uploading files, posting to forums and discussions, authoring calendar items, submitting quizzes; and
- User assigned or calculated records including, but not limited to, grading rubric scores, grade scores, badge and outcome achievement awards.
Personal information is also transferred from WCC’s registration system (OneACCS) to Blackboard Learn, including student name, student number (A#), email address, and enrollment information.
The collected information is used in the normal activities of teaching and learning in a distance education or web-assisted course format. Students should be aware that any information posted using course tools such as discussions, blogs, wikis, or videos, will become available to the instructor and may be seen by fellow students. Caution should be exercised when considering posting any person or confidential information.
When providing feedback to students, instructors will not share specific student feedback or grades on assignments or exams using a tool or method that may be accessed by other students. However, instructors may provide general feedback using online tools such as discussion forums accessible to the entire class. Instructors may request student permission to share portions of work anonymously with other students as an example.
Wallace Community College students are required to communicate with their online instructors through the communication features within Blackboard Learn or through their student e-mail address to ensure all electronic communications between students and instructors are secure and FERPA compliant.
Students may not opt-out of Blackboard Learn since it is important for all students to use Blackboard Learn to ensure that WCC can deliver its courses and programs effectively. You can read more about the security features of Blackboard Learn at https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Administrator/SaaS/Security.