Canvas Privacy Statement

Canvas Privacy Statement

Introduction

This Privacy Statement describes the ways in which Harvard University gathers and uses personal information about individuals through the Canvas applications managed by Harvard University Information Technology (HUIT) and located at canvas.harvard.edu and exed.canvas.harvard.edu.  In this Privacy Statement, “Canvas” refers only to these HUIT-managed Canvas applications.

Harvard schools and centers have set up other Canvas applications, to which this Privacy Statement does not apply.

Users

This Privacy Statement applies to all users of these HUIT Canvas applications with Canvas user accounts, regardless of relationship to Harvard.

Information Gathering

The personal information about users that may be collected by Harvard through Canvas includes:

  • HUID, first name, last name, photo, mailing address and email address
  • Course records including student enrollment and student adds/drops; instructor information; student submissions such as assignments, quizzes and tests; student and instructor discussion posts; grades and other feedback from instructors to students; other course activity data
  • Other student records

Personal information collected by Harvard also includes data related to use of the Canvas application, and identifiers or other information about a user’s Harvard affiliation and status.

Harvard also collects log files of the IP addresses and browsers of computers accessing the application and the pages visited.

Access to Content

University access to content that Harvard users create, transmit and store through Canvas is governed by the University Policy on Access to Electronic Information. 

Use of Information  

The personal information collected by Harvard through Canvas is used by students, instructors and administrators for course enrollment, course management and administration, teaching, communications with students and instructors, and other learning purposes.

Harvard may use the personal information for learning analytics, course statistics, user access reports, and user analytics, as well as to optimize our websites and tools.

Harvard may review users’ IP addresses and data on the files and resources they access to administer Canvas and to provide technical support and help diagnose problems. Harvard may use and retain email or other communications to staff in order to process inquiries, respond to requests, and improve services.

Harvard may use data about the use of Canvas for research purposes. This may include information relating to course participation, task completion, and other course activity data.

Other uses of personal information by Harvard are described in other parts of this Privacy Statement.

Instructor Use of Electronic Information

Canvas includes a Course Analytics dashboard that displays individual and aggregate student activity to instructors. Please see the statement from the Faculty Oversight Committee for details on use of this dashboard.

Statement by the Faculty Oversight Committee on the Access to Electronic Information

The following statement was approved by the Faculty Oversight Committee on the Access to Electronic Information (4/28/15):

  1. The data available to teaching staff in the dashboard is considered to be part of student academic records and therefore does not fall under the Policy on Access to Electronic Information.
  2. Faculty are responsible for notifying students within the course syllabus if Canvas data/digital activity will be used in determining course grades.
  3. Faculty are responsible for deciding who on their teaching staff should have access to this data.

Note: Currently, Canvas analytics does not measure all activity conducted on mobile devices or through the Canvas app.

Sharing of Information

Canvas is provided and hosted by the third-party vendor Instructure. Data related to use of the Canvas application and identifiers or other information about a user’s Harvard affiliation and status are released by Harvard to Instructure or accessible to Instructure through the application to enable use of the application by individuals. This includes log files of the IP addresses and browsers of computers accessing the application and the pages visited. Instructure may also have access to other personal data provided by users in the course of using the application. For more information on Instructure’s use of data see the Instructure privacy policy at https://www.instructure.com/policies/privacy.  

Other third-party vendors provide tools and applications that are integrated with Canvas for use in course administration or instruction. Some are contracted for by Harvard and some are added by instructors. These vendors may have access to user identifiers and other user personal information to enable use of their services. 

The Canvas application may also contain links to other websites.

Harvard may also share personal information with other service providers in connection with data uses described in this Privacy Statement.

Each such third-party provider may have its own privacy policy.  Harvard is not responsible for the privacy practices of such third parties or the content of such websites.

Forums and discussion groups offered by Canvas or through other third-party tools are usually not private.  Information that users provide in such settings may be read, collected, and used by all others who access them.

Other sharing of personal information by Harvard is described in other parts of this Privacy Statement.

In addition, Harvard may share and disclose personal information if Harvard believes that doing so is necessary or appropriate to: satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or governmental request; investigate compliance with or enforce this Privacy Statement or any acceptable use policy for Canvas; detect, prevent or otherwise address fraud, security or technical issues; or protect, defend or enforce the operations, property, rights and safety of users, Harvard, Harvard affiliates, or others.

Cookies and Related Technologies

Harvard may use cookies and related technologies (“Cookies”) to gather information when users navigate through canvas.harvard.edu and exed.canvas.harvard.edu, in order to enhance and personalize the experience, to help provide services available through Canvas, to analyze website usage, and to help improve the websites and our related services. To find out more about cookies, visit https://www.internetcookies.org/.

Some third parties may also use Cookies on the Canvas application to collect information about your online activities over time and across different websites you visit. This information may be used by third parties to provide advertising tailored to your interests on other websites, apps and services you visit.

You can review your Internet browser settings, typically under the sections “Help” or “Internet Options,” to exercise choices you have for certain Cookies or you can opt out of the collection and use of some Cookies through tools like the Network Advertising Initiative opt-out page. If you disable or delete certain Cookies in your settings, you may not be able to use features of our websites.

We may use third party analytics such as Google Analytics or similar analytics services. For information on how Google processes and collects information using Google Analytics, please see www.google.com/policies/privacy/partners/ ,  and for how to  opt out, please see https://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout. 

The opt-outs described above may not work for all browsers or devices.

Information Protection

There are security measures in place to help protect against the loss, misuse, and alteration of the personal information under Harvard’s control. No data transmission, processing, sharing or storage by any party can be guaranteed to be completely secure.

Contact Information

Please contact ithelp@harvard.edu with any questions or concerns about this Privacy Statement or the practices of the Canvas application. 

Users Located in the European Economic Area and the United Kingdom

If you are located in the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway (the European Economic Area) or the United Kingdom, please see https://gdpr.harvard.edu/eeaprivacydisclosures for Harvard’s Additional EEA Privacy Disclosures. 

Changes to this Privacy Statement

This Privacy Statement may be amended from time to time. Any such changes will be posted on this page. This Privacy Statement was last updated on March 10, 2021.