Controlling your look with Visibility

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that imposes requirements on what educational institutions can reveal about students. The RadGrad system is designed to not just comply with FERPA regulations, but to also provide students with a flexible way to opt-in and reveal additional information about themselves.

There is a design tension in RadGrad between the very legitimate rights of students to privacy, and the benefits to students of discovering communities of interest in their degree program. Research shows that retention in the degree program can be enhanced if students can discover other students with similar interests.

RadGrad resolves this tension in the following way:

  1. Under the current design of RadGrad, all students in the system must opt-in to allowing their name and email address to be visible to other students. Since email addresses are protected under FERPA, this means that participation in RadGrad must be opt-in and voluntary. When a new user logs into RadGrad for the first time, they are asked to read and agree to a set of Terms and Conditions, which states that they agree to allowing their name and email address to be made visible to other users in the system. If they do not wish to disclose this, then they are logged out and not part of the system. (Note that only registered users with a login can access information about other users; there is no public access to student information in any RadGrad instance.)

  2. Students who have agreed to the terms and conditions will have a user "Label" revealing just their name. The Visibility Page allows them to opt-in to revealing additional information about themselves.

The Visibility Page shows users what is currently displayed about themselves, and how to configure what they want displayed. Here's what it looks like for Dora:

As you can see, students can choose to display their picture, their website, their interests, career goals, opportunities, courses, level, and ICE. Dora has currently chosen a subset of this information to display.

There are two components to the representation of a user: their "Label", and their "Profile". The "Label" is a small tile that appears on various pages and displays just a little bit of information about the user. Clicking on a person's Label pops up a modal window displaying their "Profile", which has more information.

Demo Dive

Play around with the "Visibility" pane on the left side to see how these settings impact what information is displayed about Dora in her Label and her Profile.

If you can, try to return her settings to their original values before leaving this page.

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Last updated on by Philip Johnson