Security in an Online Course

Southern Union contracts with Instructure for use of the Canvas Learning Management System (LMS) to conduct distance learning activities.  Canvas follows strict preventative and detective mechanisms to ensure the security of this product.  Detailed reports on Security and Due Diligence are released annually to demonstrate Instructure’s compliance with industry best practices for security, availability, confidentiality, processing integrity, and privacy.

Secure Login and Password:  Faculty members and students are issued unique identification numbers, email addresses, and passwords generated by Banner, the college's information management system.  Upon enrollment in any course in the Banner system, a corresponding user account is created in Canvas.  To access the Canvas account, the user selects the college's Canvas account link or the Canvas mobile applications, enters his/her unique college email address and eight-digit birthday.  This combination of unique email and password identifies faculty members and students to the system upon each visit. 

Through the Student Handbook and Catalog, the Distance Education portion of the college website, the Student Handbook for Online Learning, and the Faculty Handbook for Online Education, all parties are informed of their responsibility for the security of their account passwords and they must not share them with anyone.  Student and faculty information by default is protected and separated from other users within the Canvas learning/teaching environment and from outside intruders.  To keep user information secure and confidential, users are advised to change the default password for additional security measures. Sharing passwords will put your account at risk of others entering your course and disrupting learning activities and accessing confidential information.

Mandatory On-Campus Sessions:  Students attending mandatory on-campus sessions for hybrid courses are required to present valid photo identification (e.g. driver’s license, college ID, military ID) in order to further protect their privacy and to confirm their identity for academic integrity purposes.  Any student who cannot present such identification may not participate in the assigned activity.

Additional Security of Online Coursework:  Faculty members teaching online classes promote the security of students’ personal data and course grades by utilizing a learning management system grade book that prohibits students from accessing other students’ grades.  Many security features, such as those listed below, are provided within the LMS. Instructors are encouraged to utilize as many of these as necessary to ensure the safety, security, and integrity of student coursework:

  • Question groups used to randomize the selection of quiz questions for each student. 
  • Instructor-provided passwords for quizzes, tests, and other graded assignments.
  • Time limits for quiz/test attempts.
  • Automatic shuffling of questions and shuffling of multiple-choice responses between student quiz/test attempts.
  • Browser security settings (lockdown browser) prohibiting access to other online sites and/or prohibiting printing during quizzes and tests.
  • Limiting student access to quiz/test grades or to review of graded quizzes/tests until all submissions have been graded.
  • Requirements for specific IP addresses or monitoring and comparing of IP addresses between student attempts of quizzes/tests.
  • Quiz/test item presentation options (one question per page, no returning to previous questions, etc.).
  • Limiting the number of attempts per quiz/test.
  • Time delays between subsequent attempts of quizzes or tests that allow multiple attempts.
  • Monitoring of student activity logs which record dates, times, and duration of access to graded assignments