Last Updated: August 30, 2020
Having access to recorded class content benefits students who are taking their courses remotely from different time zones, students who are unable to find a safe location to attend a remote class sandwiched between residential classes in their daily schedule, as well as students who are ill. For these reasons, per the LfA guidance document provided in June 2020, Boston University’s default expectation is that LfA class sessions will be recorded.
Exceptions to recording class sessions
In the majority of cases, the educational benefits of recording class sessions are significant for students. Nevertheless, we recognize that there might exist cases where recordings of class sessions will be problematic. For example, classes where sensitive political discussions take place, where recordings might inhibit the free expression of opinions and ideas or where recordings that fall in the wrong hands might put class participants in danger. Also classes where synchronous participation is necessary to accomplish the learning objectives of a course. In those cases, which constitute a minority, instructors may elect to not record their sessions after discussing their rationale with their department chairs or deans.
As an intermediate approach, instructors may choose to turn off the recording at certain points of a class in order to protect student privacy and eliminate the possibility that recording sensitive information might stifle discussion.
If class sessions are not recorded, this needs to be explicitly and clearly mentioned in the course syllabus so that students who feel they cannot easily participate synchronously in a class can make informed decisions about registering in the course.
Class recordings in which students are present and identifiable are subject to certain legal rules, under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), with which instructors must comply. (If a recording includes only the instructor, it is not a student educational record and FERPA does not limit its use.)
- Instructors should communicate to students that a course will be recorded, both in writing through the course syllabus and with a verbal reminder at the beginning of each class. The verbal reminder should be captured on the class recording. Here is a sample: “As a reminder, this session will be audio/video recorded for educational use by you and other students in this course. You may not share it with anyone who is not a student in the course.”
- If instructors are recording their class in progress, including student images, voices or other identifiable information of students, then the recording should be shared only with the students enrolled in the course. In cases where instructors wish to share the recording with others beyond the registered class list, including students in a later offering of the course, they must obtain express written permission of all participants before the recording is made; they must retain the permission forms for the duration of any sharing. The proper form for this purpose may be found here.
- Students must be given the opportunity to opt out of being recorded without their classroom experience being diminished. If students approach an instructor with an opt-out request, instructors can suggest the following:
a. students can sit in class outside of the camera range and use the chat function to ask questions; if in doubt about which seats are outside the camera range in your classroom please check with your instructor or the class moderator, if there is one.
b. students can attend remotely, choosing an alternative, non-identifying Zoom name that they share with the instructor and turning their video off or calling into the Zoom session from a phone with caller id disabled.
Storage and sharing of recorded class sessions
Classroom recordings should be made available to registered students of the course by placing links to them in the course’s password-protected Blackboard site. Students must be advised that sharing class recordings is prohibited.
It is recommended that faculty store recorded class sessions in BU My Media, following the instructions available here. Faculty who wish to make their Zoom class recordings available to students before My Media processing is complete may post direct links to Zoom cloud recordings of their class sessions on their Blackboard course site.
To be FERPA-compliant, such Zoom cloud recordings must satisfy the following:
- They need to be protected with an additional, recording-specific password, which must be shared only with students enrolled in the course.
- Direct download of those videos to the user’s computer needs to be disabled (this means that videos can be streamed, but not downloaded).
Faculty are responsible for enabling these protections on Zoom before sharing links to their Zoom cloud recordings on Blackboard. All protections can be selected easily at the Zoom pop-up window that is used to generate a Zoom recording link. Detailed information is provided on this page. Faculty should contact their School’s Remote Teaching Coordinator or faculty coach for questions and technical support
There is one exception to this recommendation: Faculty teaching class sections that include one or more students with documented reasonable accommodations by the BU Office of Disability & Access Services that require closed captioning, MUST upload their class videos on BU MyMedia ONLY, and must request that captioning be made available as set forth below. MyMedia allows for providing captioning which is compliant with applicable law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Instructions for requesting close captioning of uploaded videos in MyMedia are available here; additional help can be obtained from the Office of Disability & Access Services. Making uncaptioned versions of those videos available sooner via a direct Zoom link could constitute a form of discrimination. (The machine-generated Zoom transcripts may NOT be fully compliant with the ADA.)
Recording of Class Sessions by Students
Students may not record classes or other academic activities with faculty (including advising sessions or office hours) without advance written permission from the faculty member and anyone else included in the recording. Students requesting the use of assistive technology as an accommodation should direct such requests to the Office of Disability & Access Services.
Course recording policy syllabus requirement
All LfA course syllabi must include a clear description of the course’s recording policy, including a statement of key student rights and responsibilities. The following provides a baseline that faculty may adapt as needed for their courses:
All class sessions will be recorded for the benefit of registered students who are unable to attend live sessions (either in person or remotely) due to time zone differences, illness or other special circumstances. Recorded sessions will be made available to registered students ONLY via their password-protected Blackboard account. Students may not share these recordings with anyone not registered in the course and may not repost them in a public platform.
Students have the right to opt out of being part of the class recording. Please contact your instructor or teaching assistant to discuss options for participating in the course while opting out of the class recording.
No student may record any classroom or other academic activity (including advising sessions or office hours) without my express written consent. Unauthorized use of classroom recordings – including distributing or posting them – is also prohibited. If you have (or think you may have) a disability such that you need to record classroom activities, or need other assistive services, you should contact Disability & Access Services to request an appropriate accommodation. More information may be found here.
Preservation of Class Recordings
Class recordings will be maintained through the end of the semester. The University may in its discretion maintain a copy of any class recorded on Zoom for a longer period. Faculty will continue to own the instructor’s content contained in any recorded course.
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