New Policy on Recording Classes Goes into Effect This Spring

In November, the University Faculty Council approved a new policy on recording classes stating that “any audio or visual recording by students of class meetings, lectures, discussion, or other class activities is allowed only with the express permission of the instructor or under terms and conditions as approved by UMW’s Office of Disability Resources.” Starting this spring semester, instructors should state, on the course syllabus, their policy regarding the recording of class sessions and the circumstances under which recording will be allowed or prohibited.

Ubiquitous new technologies have made audio and even video recording of classes easier than ever before and sometimes these recordings have occurred surreptitiously. Unapproved recording of classes raises privacy concerns and can potentially result in classroom materials being shared or distributed in ways not authorized by the instructor who created and/or distributed the class materials.

A key point to emphasize is that this policy does not require that instructors allow, or disallow, recording of their classes. Rather, the only requirement is that the instructor’s policy about class recording be clearly stated on the course syllabus. Students who have received approval by the Office of Disability Resources to record classes and have communicated approval instructions to the course instructor in advance (and have provided the accommodations letter from the Office of Disability Services) are always authorized to record classes in accordance with the terms specified on the accommodations letter regardless of the instructor’s general policy.

A number of other details are addressed in the policy; see the complete recording policy, housed in the online University Policy Manual.

Class recording policies have been in place at many other universities for years. Our new policy statement was drafted by the Office of the Provost, modeled after key elements in place at many other universities. UMW’s legal liaison in the Virginia Office of the Attorney General reviewed the draft policy for clarity and applicability with relevant laws and offered several suggestions about it before the document was sent to the University Faculty Affairs Committee for their consideration. The policy was reviewed and approved by that committee and then approved by the University Faculty Council at its November meeting.

If you have any questions about this policy, please contact the Office of the Provost.

If you are wondering what a recording policy statement on the syllabus might look like, a few examples are attached. These are just illustrations of what such a statement might look like. Each instructor needs to determine the details to be included in her or his individual recording policy statement.


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