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Privacy Considerations when Recording Lectures or Classes

Author: M365 Outreach

Posted on Sep 2, 2020

Category: Tips and Tricks , General Interest

This post is the fourth in a series that considers the use of Teams, SharePoint, and other Microsoft 365 tools from a record management and privacy perspective. 

Preparing for Fall 2020 is a very different experience from any year we’ve faced before. In addition to the usual preparation for a new academic year, faculty and instructors must find new ways to deliver their content using alternative delivery (AD) methods. For some, this involves pre-recorded lectures, but for many, this will involve using Teams Meetings to deliver lectures, facilitate class discussions and group work, and much more.

In addition to learning new and constantly changing technologies, there are privacy issues that must be taken into consideration when planning for AD.

1) Consent is required for all recordings where speakers are identifiable.

Any type of recording of an individual requires consent of the individual to be recorded. This includes the recording of lectures, flipped classrooms, class discussions, group meetings or presentations, and more. Meeting organizers, including professors, instructors, or teaching assistants, should state videos are being recorded at the beginning of every recorded Meeting and ask if anyone has concerns.

We also recommend instructors include wording in their syllabus to inform students that class sessions may be recorded. It is prudent that each instructor has a discussion with the class at the beginning of the course to explain there may be components that are recorded, what this means in terms of privacy, and that if any student is not comfortable being recorded they speak with the instructor privately so alternative arrangements can be made (see section 2 below for more on this). Instructors may also want to obtain written consent. For example, a question could be added to an assignment asking specifically if the student consents to being recorded, or a MS Forms survey could be distributed asking whether students consent to being recorded. Both of these examples involve obtaining express consent.

2) Alternative arrangements are possible where students are not comfortable being recorded.

If someone is not comfortable being recorded, there are many possible options. These include (but are not limited to):

  • The student can opt out of joining the lecture and watch the recording afterwards
  • The student can join the class but not speak, turn off their camera, or not share their screen
  • Ask students to turn off their cameras so their video doesn’t show when they speak, then remove the small screen boxes containing student photos/initials from the bottom of the video before posting so speakers cannot be identified.
  • Stop the recording if someone doesn’t want to be recorded (be wary that from a teaching and learning perspective, as well as accessibility perspective, this may not be ideal and could disadvantage any students who were not present at the live lecture)
  • Record lectures, but stop recordings for question periods (again, this can disadvantage students not present for the live lecture)
  • Provide audio-only versions of recorded lectures (with spoken names removed)
  • Provide transcripts of lectures or discussions (with names removed) rather than recordings
  • Have students type questions into the Chat, then read them out without mentioning the submitter’s name

3) Creativity and flexibility will be your greatest assets when accommodating student privacy concerns.

  • It is important to engage with students who have concerns about their privacy and find ways to manage and accommodate their concerns
  • Speaking to your Level 1, ITS, ISS, or CETL may help you find technological solutions to meet privacy needs
  • Privacy concerns can also be discussed with the Data Management Team. They can be reached by email.

For more information, please visit the M365 resource site at go.unb.ca/M365 including the M365 Data Management and Privacy page.