Who has access to learning data?

Learning data is made available primarily to faculty members and their teaching teams, as well as to senior administrators, support staff, software vendors, quality assurance investigators, researchers, and students.

Detailed examples outlining who can access learning data and in which circumstances are provided below.

Teaching Team

Faculty members and their teaching teams (e.g., TAs and any other staff that faculty members appoint to their teams) can access learning data from their courses in order to improve their courses or their teaching, reflect on their prior course offerings, and generally speaking, for quality assurance purposes. Faculty can access this data directly within learning tools. For example, in Canvas, data is available in New Analytics and Quiz Statistics. Additional data can be accessed via the Canvas API (application programming interface) or requested by contacting the Learning Technology Hub.

If a faculty member’s quality assurance activities will require access to additional data that’s not available within their own course, then a data access request needs to be submitted.

Support Staff

Some UBC support staff are authorized to access courses and learning data as part of their duties at UBC. This access is generally granted for the explicit purpose of supporting instructors with teaching tasks, troubleshooting technical issues, and answering students’ and instructors’ questions. Staff also may be appointed to assist with research and quality assurance projects that involve the use of learning data, as mentioned in the sections on Researchers and Quality Assurance below.

To be granted access to learning data, support staff need to sign an agreement that outlines their terms of access and the steps that they will need to take to maintain security and confidentiality. Alternatively, staff can be granted access to courses and learning data if they receive permission from the instructor.

In addition to the data that’s generated in courses, some technical support staff have access to the following information:

  • Users’ internet protocol (IP) addresses.
  • Device event information, such as crashes, system activity, hardware settings, browser type, browser language, the date and time of request, and referral URL.
  • On-page clicks and activity, such as logins, views, tool launches, file uploads, posts, and quiz submissions.

This information would typically only be accessed by support staff for technical support purposes or for system maintenance.


Some learning tools allow students to access their own data. For example, students can access their learning data using the Canvas API (application program interface). The API allows all Canvas users to access learning data and to build programs that interact with Canvas. Permissions for the Canvas API are set in the same way as the web application — that means that individuals can only use the API to access courses that they’re enrolled in with the level of access granted by their role in course (e.g. student). Students can only access their own learning data — not data about other students — through the API.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out our guide to accessing and working with the Canvas API. The Learning Analytics Hackathons are also a great opportunity to learn more about how to access your data as a student.


Researchers or faculty members can request access to learning data for research projects being conducted at UBC or in collaboration with other institutions. To get permission to use learning data for research purposes, researchers or faculty members need to apply to the appropriate UBC Research Ethics Board.

If approval is granted by the Research Ethics Board, the request for access to data will then be reviewed by the person or group responsible for that data, called a data steward. The data steward for requests to access learning data is the Learning Data Committee.

If the data steward grants the researcher access to the requested learning data, this access will be granted with conditions of confidentiality and security. If the data steward decides that granting access to the requested data is not in the best interest of students or that granting access violates UBC policy, the steward can decide not to release the data — even if approval was received from the Research Ethics Board.

Faculty and Staff involved in quality assurance activities

As mentioned above, faculty members have access to the learning data that’s generated in their own courses, which they can use for quality assurance purposes without needing to request additional permissions. The Office of Research Ethics has produced a checklist that can help you determine whether your efforts should be considered quality assurance activities or whether they constitute research and require ethical review.

In cases where ethical review is not needed, faculty, researchers, and UBC support staff can apply to the Learning Data Committee to request access to additional data they don’t already have access to (such as data from other courses) to support their quality assurance efforts. If access is granted, this decision will be reviewed annually.

Academic Administrators

Senior academic administrators, such as deans or associate deans, may request access to learning data in a few special cases. For example, if a student appeals a grade or requests a change of standing in a program, their learning data may be used to inform a decision in response their request. For some accredited programs, accreditation bodies require proof that specific learning outcomes are being met by the program as part of the accreditation review process. If learning data were provided for accreditation purposes, all identifying information (name and student number) would be removed.

Learning analytics for academic administrators is focused on supporting student learning and achievement, and does not include any comparative analysis or assessment of faculty teaching.

Software Vendors

Some UBC platforms and tools — Canvas for example — are operated by companies that are external to UBC. All vendors that work with UBC and that have access to personal information sign contracts requiring them to keep learning data secure and to protect students’ personal information as required by FIPPA and UBC policies.

UBC’s contracts with these vendors also set out the conditions for how vendors can request access to learning data. Generally speaking, access is permitted to allow vendors to update, test, and configure software and to improve system performance. When vendors access learning data for these purposes, your data would be combined with other students’ data and identifying details (such as your name and student number) would be removed.

Vendors may also be given access to your data temporarily to resolve technical issues. If needed, your data could be accessed by vendors outside of Canada. In that case, it would be handled as required by FIPPA, UBC policy, and the vendor’s contract with UBC.

Refer to the Canvas FAQs to learn more about how personal information is managed in Canvas.