Recording Class Activities: (Some) Rules of the Road

Recordings where students can be identified—from in-person sessions or remote instruction via Zoom, BlueJeans, or any other videoconferencing application—are:

Students may be considered identifiable on class activity recordings when they are participating verbally or visually, providing commentary, using a chat feature, or making a presentation. Teaching and learning activities include, but are not limited to, lectures, discussion groups, advising sessions, labs, and so on.

Below is guidance for instructors who plan to record class activities.

Summary Guidelines for Instructors

Update course syllabus with language for notifying students of recording and language warning students not to record without permission.
Use only approved videoconferencing service providers (Zoom, BlueJeans, Google Meet) that have contracts with U-M. These contracts have assurances related to data ownership, sharing, use, security and confidentiality.
Whenever possible, record audio and video only of the instructor. This greatly minimizes the possibility of identifying class participants.
Ensure recordings are shared only with class members by uploading recordings to the class’s Canvas page or a similar platform only accessible by class members. If an instructor opts not to use the class’s shared platform, posting the recordings to an approved platform that requires a passcode only known by class members is another option.
Obtain written consent from each student who is on the recording before disclosing the recording to U-M students, faculty, or staff outside of the class, or individuals unaffiliated with U-M.

Notifying Students Before Recording

Instructors can record class activity if they notify students. Provide reasonable notice and an option to opt-out of recordings.

Sample syllabus language to notify students of recording:

Course lectures may be audio/video recorded and made available to other students in this course. As part of your participation in this course, you may be recorded. If you do not wish to be recorded, please contact [instructor/GSI email address] the first week of class to discuss alternative arrangements.

Students may not record class activity without permission. Inform your students that they need written permission from the instructor or pre-approved disability accommodations to record class activity.

Sample syllabus language to warn students not to record without permission:

Students may not record or distribute any class activity without written permission from the instructor, except as necessary as part of approved accommodations for students with disabilities. Any approved recordings may only be used for the student’s own private use.

Sharing of Recordings

  • With class participants. Instructors can freely share recordings of class activities with students in the class.
  • With others. Recordings of class activities cannot be shared with others outside the class, including other sections, without the written consent of students identifiable in the recording.

If you need to share recordings of class activities with people outside of the class, consider recording instructor-only audio and video (see Avoiding Student Recording section below).  Such recordings do not affect student privacy and are not subject to FERPA.

When and How to Obtain Written Consent for Sharing Recordings

Written consent from individual students is generally required if a class activity recording with identifiable student participants:

  • Will be shared with individuals outside of the class.
  • Is incorporated into MOOCs or other educational platforms accessible by individuals outside of the class or course in which the recording has taken place.

The instructor should obtain written consent from each student on the recording before disclosing the recording to individuals outside of the class.

Sample language for obtaining written consent:

Pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the written consent of a student is required before the education records of a student, or personally identifiable information contained therein, may be disclosed to a third party, unless an exception to this general requirement of written consent applies.

I, _______ [insert name], agree to allow the University of Michigan to disclose recordings of class activities, including audio or video recordings of my participation in lectures or other similar class activities, for educational purposes, including using the recording to show prospective or current U-M students.

I understand that I may withdraw my consent to share this information at any time by submitting a written request.

Signature:

Date:

If a student does not provide consent, or withdraws it at a later time, the recording would need to be edited to remove the student’s identity from the recording, or the recording could no longer be disclosed to other recipients.

Avoiding Student Recording

The easiest way to not have to provide notice or ask for student consent is to not record identifiable students at all. If you wish to freely share recordings of class instruction:

  • Only record the instructor's video and audio in the videoconferencing tool.
  • Use lecture-capture systems available in some U-M schools and colleges that record audio and video only of the instructor.
  • Do not identify or refer to students by full name or by other means that allow identification during the recording.
  • Have students ask questions without identifying themselves. For example, they can pose the question in chat and the instructor can read it and respond.

Questions?

Send them to privacy@umich.edu.