Audio and Video Recording of Lectures and Class Sessions
There are several possible reasons a lecture or class session might be recorded for teaching and learning purposes. This process might be initiated by the instructor, or by the student.
- To develop learning materials for synchronous hybrid and/ or fully online courses
- To provide lecture materials to learners as a study aid
- To provide access to lecture recordings because of a missed class (or in some cases when learners are located in a different time zone from Toronto)
- To provide learner(s) an accommodation associated with a cognitive or physical disability
- Some students may wish to create their own audio or video recording of a lecture as a personal study aid or strategy associated with a cognitive or physical disability
Recording a lecture or lecture segment is a great way to review and reflect on your own teaching practice, and in fact, is a common practice within the field of education. This process often involves recording part of a lecture so that an instructor can experience their own teaching from the perspective of a student.
The Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation can also provide individual in-class observations, followed by a consultation, to instructors. You can book a consultation with CTSI online.
U of T has encountered several problematic cases of students creating audio and video recordings of lectures and subsequently sharing these recordings with other students, sometimes on publicly accessible websites, and occasionally for profit. Please refer to the sections on copyright and privacy considerations, linked below, to understand our guidelines, and policies on this topic.
Whether instructors wish to record their lectures or have their lectures recorded or not is entirely at the discretion of the individual instructor.
Unless a separate contract related to ownership of content is in place, a lecture is considered the intellectual property of the instructor, and copyright guidelines and regulations apply to the recording of lectures. Furthermore, recording a lecture also requires the observation of privacy guidelines and regulations for students in the class whose presence or statements might also be recorded.
Consequently, the following considerations, guidelines, and policies apply to the audio and video recording of lectures:
Students may not record any portion of a lecture without the prior and explicit written permission of the course instructor. Provostial guidelines on the Appropriate Use of Information and Communication Technology, available at https://www.provost.utoronto.ca/planning-policy/information-communication-technology-appropriate-use/, state that:
The unauthorised use of any form of device to audiotape, photograph, video-record or otherwise reproduce lectures, course notes or teaching materials provided by instructors is covered by the Canadian Copyright Act and is prohibited. Students must obtain prior written consent to such recording. In the case of private use by students with disabilities, the instructor’s consent must not be unreasonably withheld.
Instructors may include this statement in their course outline if they wish, or may explain the policy during the first class. If instructors wish to offer broad permission to record lectures, this information may be included as a written statement in the course outline. Please see the end of this document for sample statements that can be included on your course outline.
Once permission to record is given, it may nonetheless be rescinded at any time or for particular lectures or class sessions.
Instructors should also communicate to students how recorded lecture material may be used or distributed. In particular, instructors should communicate whether lecture material is for personal use only, whether lecture recordings can be shared with other students in the course (e.g., through the course Quercus site or through email), or whether lecture recordings may be posted to a publicly-accessible website.
In addition to considerations of copyright and intellectual property, the need to protect the privacy of students in the class being recorded is also essential. In addition to general privacy protection, some students have very serious and genuine reasons for not wanting their presence in a particular class or at a particular institution to be public information, and may be endangered by insufficient privacy protection. These considerations are guided both by university policy and the Ontario Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) regulations.
Questions about adhering to privacy guidelines in a specific context may be addressed to the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation or the Rafael Eskenazi, the University of Toronto FIPP Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In general, instructors and students should follow the following guidelines:
- Students must be given notice that lectures or a lecture will be recorded, preferably well before the recorded class. Ideally, this notification would also be offered if the recording is being made by a student for their own personal use.
- Students must be given the option to opt out of recorded classes without penalty. In general, this can be done with minimal disruption by designating an area of the class that will not be visible on a video-recording, and by providing students who do not wish for their voice to be recorded an alternative means of participating and asking questions (e.g. by email, during office hours, or through a written note passed to a teaching assistant). Students who wish to remain anonymous in a recorded lecture must not be penalized for this choice – if, for example, participation is a required component of the course, students must be given another option to earn participation credit that will not be recorded.
- Some faculty feel most comfortable preceding any recording with a circulated consent form. This form should outline the purpose of the recording, its potential uses, and students’ options for opting out. Please contact CTSI for a sample consent form. CTSI staff can assist you in modifying it as appropriate for your own context.
Sample Statements for Course Outlines
Remote/Online Courses – Instructor Recording:
The FIPPA office has developed language for course instructors to use in course syllabi. This language is intended to accomplish two objectives:
- To notify students that their participation in an online course will be recorded
- To provide options for faculty to inform students of appropriate use for course materials
In Class Student Recording of Course Content:
In the tabs are sample statements granting or withholding permission for the recording of lectures that may be modified to suit your particular teaching context. Please contact CTSI if you have any questions about appropriate phrasing.