FIPPA and PACE Instructors

It seems like a small thing, but it’s good for PACE instructors to realize that the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (FIPPA) applies in their role as contract staff for the University.   FIPPA is a provincial statute that controls how certain entities in the province collect, use and disclose personal information. FIPPA also provides a right to request copies of records retained by these entities, and in the case of records containing the personal information of the requester, a right to seek corrections.  The University is specifically named in the legislation as an ‘educational body’; employees include anyone who handles personal information in the course of providing a service to the University, which includes contract instructors. Records created by contract instructors in the course of their employment with PACE are subject to disclosure under the access to information provisions.

FIPPA details the types of personal information that are covered by the legislation.  Some of it is pretty basic: name, address, student number, but it goes beyond that to include views expressed about an individual.  Records covered by the legislation include anything written or photographed or electronically stored; that includes notes on class performance, emails to and from students, and emails about students. 

In practical terms, any notes an instructor keeps on a student, any email messages about a student, these are covered by FIPPA.  An individual student can request those records regardless of where they are stored, kept, or transmitted; a contract instructor can be asked to produce the notes they kept during a course or the emails that were exchanged about a student – even if that is sent through the instructor’s personal email account.

The University has some recommended practices for email located here:

And general information located here:

A recent request from a student for emails about them brought this to light as the instructor had to search their personal emails and produce them as part of the response to the FIPPA request.  Instructors may want to consider using the University email system for all communications related to teaching to help maintain privacy of records and avoiding searching personal emails should a request be received. 

Nexus Tip… Okay Nexus Reminder

You probably haven’t noticed but I try to put out a Nexus tip each month. This month, with too much sun, too many student papers, and just too much to do, I don’t have a tip. Instead, how about some reminders?

Nexus Quizzes

Nexus Quizzes have the ability to provide students with feedback. When creating questions, it can be inserted in advance to become visible after the quiz is finished. With the settings PACE uses, students see what questions they got wrong, and with the feedback feature, can also see any comments the instructor creates for that question.

It’s also good to remember that for the quiz feedback feature to work, even to show students what question they got wrong, the quiz cannot have a closing time set.

For that reason, PACE quizzes are left open with a due time. Students can write after that time, but instructors don’t have to accept late submissions (refer to our late policy for guidelines on that). Instructors will have to manually overwrite that late quiz score though.

Nexus Assignment Drop Boxes

As of this month, the Assignment Drop Box set up is also being changed to remain open. There is still a due date and time, but late submission can be put in by students. Instructors will have to review submissions that are late to determine if they meet the late policy or are not accepted.

Nexus Discussion Boards

Discussion boards can also be set with different features. This includes group settings and due dates. The due dates feature allows for the closing of discussion boards so that students stay in the current week / topic; an issue that occasionally comes up with students posting comments weeks after a topic has been covered.

With the group settings, a discussion board can be set to allow only specified groups of students access. This is particularly useful in large classes, where the same topic can be broken out into different discussion groups to provide students with an opportunity to make a post without having a thread that has 30 or 36 students responding to it!