The pandemic has prompted colleges to record lectures. The practice can be here to stay.

On March 12 and 13, 2020, the University of Michigan canceled the course to prepare the entire campus for emergency distance education starting March 16. In this brief interval, the institution has made Zoom available to everyone, possibly the fastest deployment of any technology in the history of the university, says Ravi Pendse, vice president of information technology and information director.

The video platform allowed teachers to virtually host live lessons, with real-time speech-to-text transcriptions. It also allowed them to record lectures or class discussions for students to watch and review at any time. This option was found to be useful for students with unreliable internet access at home, those living in remote time zones and those who had difficulty keeping up as well as professors who taught while wearing masks.

“For all of these reasons, recording these lectures and making them available was the right thing to do, and a significant number of faculty colleagues decided to do it,” Pendse explains.

Whether their courses were hybrid, HyFlex (taught in a way that allowed each student to choose between in-person or online), fully online, or (theoretically) fully in-person, many other faculty found themselves recording their courses at over the past two years. And although now many institutions have gone beyond their first improvised solutions to the challenges of the pandemic, the recording of the lectures has remained.

It’s a change that some students like. But some instructors aren’t so sure – and what it might mean for their teaching strategies, for their privacy or that of their students, or for their intellectual property.

The practice has precedent among proponents of “reverse learning,” a model that assigns students to watch lectures as homework and sets aside time in class for interactive activities. Pendse sometimes taught this way before the pandemic when he felt it made the most sense for a particular lesson. He also has supporters among advocates for students with disabilities, who say the recorded lectures allow people with hearing loss, treatment difficulties or other challenges to pause and replay material, or read transcripts. , understand it better and take notes.

“Recorded lectures can benefit all students. This makes a course inclusive, supportive and accessible, ”says Jennifer Albat, instructional designer at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. “It brings fairness to the course. Everyone is on the same playing field. ”

Recorded lectures can also help students who miss classes due to work or care responsibilities, transportation issues, or nowadays quarantine requirements due to exposure to COVID-19.

“There are a number of reasons why a student should miss a class,” says Albat. “My provost likes to call it ‘showing grace to the students.”

Yet some professors are concerned about what recording their lessons might mean to their teaching practices and lesson expectations. One of the concerns is that it might be too tempting for students to skip classes for less urgent reasons. It is a phenomenon that precedes the pandemic in medical schools, where many students stay home regularly and watch recordings– sometimes at double the normal speed. Studies on the effects of recorded classes on student attendance have gave mixed results.

Also, teaching in front of a camera instead of a room full of students is not the same for many instructors.

“I miss those physical and verbal cues that you get when you’re in person in a room with people,” Pendse says. “It’s really, really hard to capture that in a Zoom environment, and the video fatigue that people go through.”

Another point of contention is that in a time of heightened tension over academic freedom and “controversial” lessons, some instructors are loath to make it easier for their materials to be taken out of the classroom and possibly be used against them. This is not just a hypothetical situation. Florida just passed a law allowing students to use recorded lectures to make complaints about professors’ “political biases”. “

“Students ripping up videos and putting them out of context on social media is always a concern,” says Albat.

Student privacy is another concern. If a classroom is registered, students should know about it, according to Pendse. The University of Michigan has published guidance on obtaining student consent for recordings and associated best practices, which other institutions have requested to use for their own campuses.

And it’s not always clear who owns and controls the recorded conferences that are hosted and shared through academic or third-party edtech systems. Colleges can create policies that give them copyright in material teachers record, which prompted some professors to design scenarios in which they lose their jobs but institutions continue to use their recordings. (Did you hear the one about the deceased professor teaching?)

The American Association of University Teachers has published advice on distance education and copyright, as good as a warning that “institutions should not take this opportunity to appropriate intellectual property to which they would not otherwise have had access; educational material posted as a result of the unique emergency created by COVID-19 is not the property of the institution for future use. Experts say professors should recheck the policies of their institutions and watch for any changes.

The University of Michigan has experience in navigating intellectual property rights issues, in part through its prolific partnership with open course provider Coursera, Pendse says. He explains that in general, professors at the university retain ownership of their content and can take it with them if they leave, unless they have been specifically hired to produce material exclusive to the University. establishment.

Despite the possible drawbacks, Albat and Pendse predict that recordings will become more common, though not mandatory, among faculty. Pendse says the students have even come to expect it.

“I feel like the world is moving more and more towards blended learning,” he adds. “I think recording lectures and downloading lectures are here to stay. “


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Norma A. Roth