Course Merge by Instructor Request

Instructors-of-record may wish to merge class rosters of their sections into a single Brightspace course offering. Requests shall be submitted to the Brightspace Support Team (

For sections combined in this manner, the instructor-of-record has the responsibility to ensure that student privacy is protected. It is critical that instructors adhere to guidance on FERPA compliance provided below.

Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

When enrolling in a section, students have a reasonable expectation that only the instructor and other students enrolled in the same section can see that they are enrolled in the class. This enrollment status is considered protected information under FERPA. While it is considered appropriate, and legal within the FERPA regulations, for students to know about other students in their own class sections, it is not considered appropriate for that to happen across sections that meet at different times. Students may know each other personally and share their enrollment status, but by combining sections enrollment information could potentially be shared, which would violate the regulation. 

Prohibited Brightspace Features for Instructor-Merged Courses

To ensure compliance with FERPA in circumstances of sections combined by the instructor-of-record, the following Brightspace course features must not be used.

Discussion Forum and Topic Features

In the Discussion tool of Brightspace, when multiple sections are combined, Instructors must avoid enabling the Discussion Topic option of “Open topic” (shown below), as this would allow students enrolled in different sections to become aware of each other’s enrollment status.  Enabling “Group of section topic,” would avoid sharing of enrollment status across sections and would therefore be permissible.

Discussion Topic Option

The “Open Topic” feature of Discussion Forums enables students in different sections to be aware of another's enrollment.  This is a violation of FERPA and must not be used.

Student Groups Features 

The Groups feature in Brightspace enables interaction between students and this must not be used to enable interaction between students enrolled in different sections.

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