College management licences software from third parties to assist faculty in teaching their students. Some of the more familiar software packages faculty use are Microsoft’s Office 365 for Business, Desire2Learn’s Brightspace LMS, and Cisco’s WebEx Meetings. While these packages are ‘free’ for faculty to use, it is important to understand there are ‘strings attached’. When you log into any of these services from your office computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, you enter your Fleming email address and are taken to this screen:

After entering your Fleming College username and password, you are then logged into the third-party service. This means that Fleming’s IT department has access to any files and folders you use on these platforms. 

For example, a Fleming professor uploads several files to their Fleming OneDrive account and shares these files with their students. The professor believes that by password-protecting these files and sharing them directly with their students, only these students would have access to the files. However, since the professor uses their Fleming credentials to access Office 365, Fleming IT and by extension college management can also access any files in the professor’s OneDrive, WebEx Meetings, D2L/Brightspace accounts, etc.

What can Faculty Do?

If you are concerned about management having access to your files, you have several options. First, don’t continue using third-party software that requires you to log in with your Fleming username and password.

You might instead purchase an individual subscription to the same services, or explore some free alternatives. Instead of using the College Microsoft OneDrive account to share your files, you could set up a free Dropbox or Zoho Office account. The free accounts give you 2GB (Dropbox) or 5GB (Zoho) which is more than enough space for sharing course resources with students.

There are many benefits with using a non-Fleming cloud service. OneDrive for Business offers users the ability to send students an invitation to submit files to a protected folder. This feature can be used to have students submit an assignment directly to a specified folder on OneDrive, bypassing the D2L/Brightspace assignment dropbox. However, many of these useful features have been turned off by Fleming IT. However, Dropbox also offers ability to send students an invitation to submit files to a protected folder and can’t be turned off by Fleming IT or management. Files are date/time stamped and while students can submit their assignment to the folder, they can’t access any other students’ assignments.

D2L/Brightspace is the College’s preferred Learning Management System (LMS). Brightspace is a solid LMS, but Desire2Learn has partnered with third party software to add functionality to the platform through Brightspace Apps. The Brightspace AppFinder has many amazing tools that will improve functionality in your courses. However, in order for faculty to install these apps, faculty must first get approval from their Manager. Several chairs have turned down faculty requests for app integration in Brightspace.

Using a free open-source LMS will eliminate faculty’s reliance on management approval for turning on additional these additional features. The following article discusses 14 open-source learning management systems available as a free download: https://medevel.com/14-learning-management-systems-lms/

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