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Electronic communication and collaboration tools

This guidance covers tools and systems such as email, instant messaging, text messaging and systems for sharing and collaboratively working on documents. A variety of these tools and systems are used at the university to produce records on a daily basis. Some of the records produced or stored in these systems have value as university records and must be removed and stored in an approved repository, in accordance with the Records Management Policy.

Under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, any recorded information is considered a record. The Records Management Policy expects faculty and staff to determine whether those records are university records that must be retained or transitory records that may be discarded. This page will assist you in making those determinations for records created by electronic communication and collaboration tools. 

  • What electronic communication tools are in use at UOIT?

    Some examples include email, Google Hangouts, text messaging, and any other tools that may be used on an informal basis.

  • What collaboration systems are in place at UOIT?

    Workspace for Information Sharing and Collaboration (WISC), Google Drive, and any other systems that may be used on an informal basis.

  • Is it okay to continue to use these systems?

    Yes. These systems are an important tool for creating and sharing records efficiently.

  • How do I determine if a record of communication has value?

    A record of communication containing decisions or advice, one that sets expectations for students, staff or others or one that provides instructions is likely a university record. You must use your discretion to determine whether the communication has enough significance to be a university record. Unless otherwise determined in local processes, the sender (if sent by a member of the responsible unit) or first recipient (if it was sent from elsewhere) in the responsible unit is responsible for retaining the record.

    If a record of communication relates to an ongoing case, student file, or project and it is the only record documenting the interaction or content, it should be added to that file and managed accordingly.

  • What records of communication are transitory?

    Transitory records can be deleted when they are no longer needed according to your own discretion. Some examples include: personal messages not related to UOIT business, FYI messages with no action or decision required, meeting notices/appointments after the date in question, a single message in a long chain of email (only the final chain containing all messages must be retained).

  • What sort of collaboration should be considered university records?

    During the creation of documents in a collaborative tool, there may be many drafts and many comments. Some of those comments may be informal and insignificant in nature. They may or may not be incorporated into the draft, but are unlikely to be referred to in the future. If changes to the drafting of a document do not alter its scope, purpose or content, the interim versions and comments do not need to be kept as university records. The determination will be at your discretion.

    If comments and drafts represent milestones, changes in direction, or significant issues that may need to be revisited in the future, the comments and drafts should be considered university records. Drafts that have been shared outside of the group working in the collaborative tool are likely to be significant drafts. Comments that have value to keep may be both those that have been incorporated and those that have been evaluated and not incorporated.

    For example, during the development of a policy, issues may arise and be considered. In future reviews of the policy, those issues and how they were addressed are likely to be revisited.

  • What do I do if I determine a record has value?

    If a record has value, it should be copied to an approved repository for recordkeeping. The original can then be considered a transitory copy and deleted. It is important to delete transitory copies once an official copy is made because a FIPPA Access to Information Request would apply to any transitory copies, unfinished drafts or informal comments as well as records you determine to be university records.

  • What are some approved repositories for electronic records?

    Approved repositories should be accessible, backed up, and subject to the Records Classification and Retention Schedule. Some possible repositories for electronic records include printing and filing paper copies of electronic records, shared drives, Banner Document Management, Raiser’s Edge, and Clockwork.

  • What about the other records?

    Any records that you determine are not university records should be deleted periodically from your tools. This will make it easier to locate records of value and ensure that incomplete and insignificant transitory records will not be subject to an Access to Information Request.

  • When should university records be removed from the collaboration tool for storage?

    When the university record is complete and finalized.

  • Why aren’t these systems considered approved repositories for recordkeeping?

    These systems don’t provide the ability to apply different retention periods to different types of records. They can also make it difficult to share records over time as personnel changes. In order to classify records and make sure they are kept according to the Records Classification and Retention Schedule, they will need to be removed and kept elsewhere.