TL38 – Online Courses

Records of courses offered or supported using the University’s learning management system and other approved online course management tools.

Related Records | Responsible Unit | Information Steward | Information Confidentiality Classification | Retention | Disposition | Authority | Retention Rationale | Version Information

Content & Scope

The University’s learning management system (currently, LEARN) is a web-based course management system that functions both as a complement to traditional on-campus courses and as a site for fully online courses. Other online teaching and learning tools may be used by course instructors, supplementing the learning management system. Academic courses and various professional development and training courses may be offered fully or partially online.

As described in Policy 73 – Intellectual Property Rights, the University may retain copies of students’ and course instructors’ works and contributions to courses (excluding students’ grades and course instructors’ evaluations of students’ work) for re-use in other teaching and research activities.

The records include copies of course notes; copies of course outlines/syllabi; course calendars; course communications such as announcements, discussion lists, blogs, wikis, and email; completed quizzes, tests, and assignments; and course rosters and gradebooks.

Related Records

  • For the official copy of course outlines, see TL35 – Course Outlines.
  • For grade records, see also TL60 – Instructors' Grade Records.
  • For student work, see also TL55 – Examination Papers & Course Assignments.

Responsible Unit

  • Academic department/school responsible for the academic course.
  • Administrative unit responsible for offering a non-credit online course.

Information Steward

Dean of the faculty offering credit courses, or information steward responsible for the administrative unit offering non-credit courses.

Information Confidentiality Classification

  • Restricted: students’ work (e.g., completed quizzes, tests, and assignments) and other contributions to the course, in discussion lists, blogs, email, etc.
  • Confidential: all other records.


1 year after the end of the term in which the course was offered.


  • Course materials in the learning management system are available to the course instructor for 3 years after the end of the course.
  • Copies of students’ and course instructors’ contributions to courses (excluding students’ grades and course instructors’ evaluations of students’ work) may be retained for re-use in other teaching and research activities.


Secure Destruction.


Responsible Units should document the disposal/destruction of official records using the University records destruction form or equivalent documentation, to verify that we are following our records retention rules.


  • University of Waterloo Act, 1972.
  • Policy 73 – Intellectual Property Rights.
  • University of Waterloo Undergraduate Studies Academic Calendar: Assignments, Tests, and Final Exams.

Retention Rationale

Retention is based on operational use and regulations to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act requiring that personal information be retained for a minimum of one year after its use, unless the individual to whom the information relates consents to its earlier disposal (RRO 1990 Reg 460, s 5(1)). The retention period allows access to online courses for the same period as students are allowed to access final examinations.

Approval Date

26 July 2010