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Considerations for Recording Class Sessions

Considerations for Recording Class Sessions

Potential benefits of recordings

Instructors are not required to record their class sessions. Decisions to record classes are at the professional judgement of the instructor and may be subject to established practices of the department, school, or campus, as appropriate. Where established practice may be at odds with other aspects of this guidance, instructors should reach out to their dean’s office, the Teaching Center, DRS, or the Office of the Provost, as appropriate, for clarity.

While not required, providing access to recorded class sessions can have several benefits for students, including:

  • allowing students who are unable to attend class (because of illness, family emergency, team competitions, etc.) to have access to class content.
  • providing an opportunity for all students to review class content at their own pace, clarify areas of confusion, and rewrite/augment class notes.
  • making classes more inclusive and accessible by accommodating students with a broad range of needs or life challenges.

NOTE: Class recordings are not meant to be a substitute, replacement, or a complete analog for in-class attendance and participation. However, recordings may provide access to valuable classroom content and material to which students may not otherwise have access.

When providing students with the opportunity to view recorded class sessions, don’t simply ask them to “watch the recorded class.” Rather, be sure to frame their viewing with an advance organizer, key questions, notations of critical content, or other directions to help the students to get the most from watching the recorded class.

Important considerations

If an instructor chooses to record class sessions, there are several things to keep in mind:

  1. Steps to record your class sessions. This page describes options and provides step-by-step instructions about how to record your class session.
  2. Student Notifications and Expectations:
    • To facilitate the free exchange of ideas during lectures, if instructors intend to record a lecture with student participation, students must be advised, via e-mail at the beginning of the semester that all or some class sessions will be recorded.
    • In addition, instructors should verbally remind students at the beginning of any recorded class session that the session, including their participation, is being recorded.
    • Students should not be required to participate in the recorded conversation and should be encouraged to ask questions off-line if they elect not to participate in class.
    • Further, students should be informed that the recorded sessions may be used only by the instructor and the students registered for the course, solely for internal class purposes, and only during the term in which the course is being offered. Instructors who have questions should contact
    • The University has recently approved updated policies on intellectual property and copyright ownership, as stated in University of Pittsburgh Intellectual Property Policy RI 10 (PDF – 250 KB) (replacing Policy 11-02-02). Please review this document for details regarding definitions and policies relevant to intellectual property in the digital learning environment.
  3. Distribution. To whom will the instructor provide access to class recordings? There are options.
    • Instructors can make their classroom recordings available to all students registered for the course by regularly posting recordings to their Canvas course site after each class meeting.
    • Instructors may choose to make recorded classroom sessions available only to those students registered in the course who are absent from class, by adjusting access permissions.
    • Instructors may choose to make recorded classroom sessions available only to those students registered in the course who request access to recorded class sessions, by adjusting access permissions.
  4. Sample Syllabus Statement for Student Recordings.
    • A recommended syllabus Statement on Classroom Recording from the University Senate Educational Policies Committee in 2010 states that students cannot record sessions without permission from the instructor.
      “To ensure the free and open discussion of ideas, students may not record classroom lectures, discussion and/or activities without the advance written permission of the instructor, and any such recording properly approved in advance can be used solely for the student’s own private use.”
      This applies to recordings made using social media apps such as TikTok or Instagram. Students may not share recordings with anyone who is not a member of the class and may only use recordings in the context of the course unless the consent of the instructor and any student who is identifiable in the recording is obtained. Other suggested syllabus statements can be found on the Syllabus Checklist page.
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