What it takes for cloud tech to become FERPA-compliant

Cloud solution industry giant discusses its new software’s features needed to meet applicable FERPA requirements

cloud-security-ferpaIn the recent wake of Apple’s Cloud security breach, as well as multiple security hacks into campuses across the country, cloud solutions providers are saying that the next step in cybersecurity means becoming independently-verified FERPA compliant.

Turning Technologies, a partner for learning engagement and assessment services, announced its latest release, TurningPoint Cloud, has been independently verified for Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) compliance. The American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) issued an official letter of notice that TurningPoint Cloud successful addressed FERPA issues with relevance to the collection, use and protection of education records.

This compliance, independently verified, will hopefully usher in a new level of security for campus IT solutions.

“TurningPoint Cloud was proactively engineered with new security features, ensuring that sensitive information is accessed only by users with verified accounts and designated access encrypted files,” said Turning Technologies’ CEO Mike Broderick.  “As good stewards of data, we are committed to protecting the privacy and security of all our users, especially students.  Providing customers with compliant, independently verified solutions makes it easier for institutions to support FERPA policies.  Eliciting independent auditors to review our data protection practices is just one of the ways we provide tools that users can trust.”

Updated with new features, TurningPoint Cloud maintains its core functionality as a student response system, offering polling with PowerPoint®, over top of any application or self-paced mode for tests, evaluations and surveys.

Along with its availability for Mac or PC so that instructors can conduct real-time assessments to track progress, instantly view results and collect data, TurningPoint Cloud has now introduced the use of Turning Accounts, available for both instructors and students to leverage what the company says is secure, centralized cloud-based management of courses, rosters and assessment data safeguarded with a secure login and file encryption.

(The 8 FERPA compliance points and features needed)

With the addition of the Turning Account system, a unique identifier is provided for each user and can be tied to all software accounts and response devices. TurningPoint Cloud will prompt presenters to sign in to a Turning Account upon launch of the desktop software.

Turning Accounts require username and password verification, ensuring protection of electronic records including participant and session data, said the company. Once an instructor has created a Turning Account and logged in via the web once (to initialize passwords), internet is no longer required for future sign-ins to run software. TurningPoint Cloud utilizes Amazon Web Services, which the company explains is recognized as one of the most secure cloud computing environments, in order to maintain the highest level of data protection for customers.

FERPA requires that institutions protect the privacy of student education records in their possession as well as provide the student (or parents/guardians for students under 18) access to such education records.  In its capacity as a contractor for postsecondary education, Turning Technologies maintains a limited number of education records.

Upon evaluation, AACRAO verified that TurningPoint Cloud meets relevant FERPA requirements in the following manner:

  • Agreements include contract language that clarifies the institution retains ownership of any education records maintained by TurningPoint Cloud
  • Agreements include contract language that clarifies the education records will only be used as directed by the institution or the student via a signed consent
  • Agreements include contract language that clarifies the education records will be destroyed or returned to the institution if the contract is ended at the discretion of the institution
  • Physical protection of education records it creates and maintains for the postsecondary institution by storing those records on its own exchange server system
  • Appropriate procedures are in place to control access and maintain security of records
  • Records will be stored on servers encrypted by Amazon with name and password protection
  • Institutions have the ability to allow student access to education records upon request of the student
  • All requests to education record access by students are directed to and controlled by the institution

Based in Youngstown, OH, information on Turning Technologies can be found at  Follow @TurningTech.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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