Provide Privacy Statements for External Tools

Quality Review Showcase

The Quality and High Quality online course reviews explore components proven to be best practices in online course design. This post showcases High Quality item, “The course provides students with information on protecting their data and privacy related to tools that are provided by vendors external to UCF (e.g. links to privacy statements).”

When a student uses an online tool, it is important to think about implications for their privacy and data. This is especially critical for tools that are not officially university-approved (tools like Webcourses@UCF, Respondus LockDown Browser, and Zoom are approved and therefore have been vetted as compliant). For instance, you ask students to participate in a Google Jamboard. Will it prompt them for a name? Must they provide their real name? Will their data be stored on the Google server? Will it be shared with additional parties?

Online tools should provide a privacy statement that explains to users how data and privacy are managed, and this statement should be shared with students.

What are Some Ways your Online Course can be Designed to Meet this Standard?

  • In your syllabus, list the tools that students will be expected to use. If any of those tools are not university-approved, provide the links to their privacy statements. If you cannot easily locate the privacy statement for a tool, think twice before including it.
  • If the tool collects any FERPA-protected data (name, personal email address), do not use it without asking it be vetted. Many textbook publisher resources and homework platforms have already been vetted through UCF. Not sure if it’s vetted? Contact Webcourses@UCF Support.
  • Think about how you are asking students to use the tool. For example, it may not be necessary to provide a privacy policy for YouTube videos that are being linked in the online course; students do not have to create an account to see the videos and are not required to add comments. However, if an assignment asks students to create a video and post it to a private YouTube channel, then YouTube’s privacy policy will need to be provided.
  • Include a question about privacy in a Getting Started quiz. For instance, “You will be using Google Docs to complete the writing assignment. Where did I provide the privacy statement about this tool?”

What Does This Look Like in a Real Online Course?

Example 1: Mike Loree, SYA4300C (Research Methods).

Mike Loree includes a heading in his syllabus called “Privacy and Accessibility Policies,” and provides links for tools used in the course, such as Instructure Canvas, Zoom, YouTube, Microsoft, and Adobe. While not absolutely necessary to provide links to university-approved tools like Canvas and Zoom, the inclusion does suggest a concern for protecting student data.

Privacy and Accessibility Policies

For information about the privacy policies of the tools used in this course, see the links below:

Instructure (Canvas)


YouTube (Google)



Example 2: Seongchun (Michelle) Kwon, MAC1114C (College Trigonometry).

Students in Michelle Kwon’s trigonometry course use WebAssign, an external assignment tool. The syllabus provides several resources that are important for students to have who will use external tools, including links to the tool’s technical support, accessibility statement, and privacy statement.


You will access WebAssign only from Webcourses. Go to Assignments in WebCourses. Click the assignment. 

WebAssign Tech Support

WebAssign Accessibility Statement

WebAssign Privacy Statement

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