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Students have intellectual rights under Canadian copyright law to the work they create during their post-secondary education. They also have privacy rights that mean student work cannot be used or shared without their permission. You cannot submit student work to any internal or external technology without a student’s express permission. Likewise, you cannot use student work – excerpts or in entirety – without that student’s permission.  

In this Hub post, we’ll clarify what you can and cannot do with student work to ensure student rights are respected. 

Two notes as we get started:

  • Store student work in a safe place even after the semester ends. Under provincial law, you have a responsibility to retain non-eConestoga evaluation items, with student’s confidentiality protected, until one year after the end of semester. Consult the Retention Schedule (p. 29), Evaluation of Student Learning Policy and Academic Dispute Resolution and Appeal Procedure for more information and timelines. Note: Anything stored in eConestoga is automatically retained.
  • Wondering how to store large pieces of student work, such as artwork or woodworking projects? Reach out to your Chair to find a secure place to store large items.

How can I use student work in the following contexts?

Microsoft Copilot: Explicit written permission from the student is required if you wish to enter their work or excerpts of their work into Copilot.

  • Example: Let’s say you’d like to adapt an excellent piece of student work and create an example for future students of how to complete a specific assignment. You want to take a piece of the strong student’s assignment and enter it into in Copilot to create an exemplar. You’ll need the student author’s permission before adapting or using any of their work as an example.
  • Example: While marking an assignment, you are suspicious that students may have used generative AI (genAI) in ways that you did not authorize in the assignment instructions. You want to enter portions of their text into Copilot to see if you can get similar outputs. You’ll need student permission before doing so.  

Turnitin: You must notify students in writing in advance of the due date that detection software is being used in the assessment of their work. Students have the right to opt-out of detection technologies, including Turnitin and Respondus Monitor. Ensure that students are advised in advance of an assignment regarding their right to opt out. 

  • Example: You want to check students’ discussion posts on eConestoga for genAI use. You’ll need to set up an Assignment drop box with Turnitin enabled and ask students to both post to the discussion board and submit their post as a Word document to the drop box. In advance, inform students that their discussion post submissions are being submitted to Turnitin. 

Any other platform or tool: Do not submit student work to any external platforms or tools. Such external platforms collect and use data in ways that may not be fully disclosed. Students have a right to protect and use their data as they see fit.

  • Example: You want a second opinion on a student assignment based on a high AI detection score you’re getting from Turnitin. You consider copying and pasting the student’s work into a platform that claims to be able to detect genAI outputs with confidence. Do not proceed – we don’t know how the external platform will collect and use the data you share with it, which poses a risk to both the student and you. 

Ada Sharpe

Ada Sharpe, Ph.D. (English and Film Studies), has worked in faculty and support staff roles in the post-secondary sector for over a decade. She has taught and researched in literary studies and writing studies and co-led a university writing centre. Ada specializes in understanding how assessment shapes the teaching and learning experience for faculty and students.

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