Recording taught sessions

Video camera recording a lectureThis guidance will help you decide whether to record taught sessions and explain what you need to do following that decision.

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Teaching on campus

The University’s existing taught session recording policy applies to all teaching taking place on campus.

  • Any timetabled sessions taking place in an Encore-enabled room (any teaching room with a capacity of over 40), will be recorded by Encore in the normal way.
  • If you do not want your session to be recorded, you will need to opt out of the recording using your department's usual procedure.

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Teaching online (e.g. via Google Meets or Blackboard Collaborate)

If you are teaching a session online, you will have the option to record it within the virtual classroom / video conferencing session. You need to think carefully about whether or not to record a session and you may want to consult your students.

We advise taking a department or programme level approach to recording to provide consistency for students. Departments should develop and make available to teaching teams guidance on the approach to be adopted in the department.

Advantages and disadvantages of recording

Consider why you want to record the session. Some possible reasons might be:

  • to ensure that students who cannot attend the session (e.g. due to illness, technical problems) are not disadvantaged;
  • to support disabled students or those with English as a second language who may benefit from recordings;
  • to allow all students to revisit the contents of the session.

Some reasons you might choose not to record a session include:

  • some students may not want to be recorded;
  • some students may feel that the recording is a barrier to their participation;
  • where research confidentiality could be breached;
  • where material is commercially, politically or ethically sensitive e.g. unpublished research material or patient details;
  • where the content being taught may expose teaching staff or students to risk if made accessible outside the University;
  • where copyright could be breached;
  • where the teaching style is not suitable (e.g. extensive use of breakout groups);
  • where a guest speaker external to the University has not consented to be recorded.

You might decide to only record parts of the session, as a way to balance these benefits and disadvantages.

Making a decision about recording

This decision tree takes you through the key issues you will need to consider when making a decision about recording. More detail about each of these issues can be found below.

A decision tree containing key information whether you have reason for recording a session, or not.

Text version of decision tree

Do you have a reason to record the session?

If yes, in order to record the session, you should make sure that:

  • Your session does not contain confidential or personal information
  • You follow guidelines for the use of copyrighted materials
  • You inform your students
  • You gain consent from any external speakers
  • You consider how to include students who do not want to be recorded

If no, don’t record the session. You will also need to:

  • Provide alternatives, where outlined / required in a student’s LSP
  • Consider whether to provide alternatives for students who cannot attend the session

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Checklist for recording an online session

You must not allow students to download recordings of webinars because of Data Protection.

If you want to record a session, you must:

  • Make students aware of the recording. You will need to display a notice at the start of each session (please use the templates provided). You must give students enough time to read the notice and the opportunity to turn off their mic/camera or to opt out and leave the session if they want to. See guidance below on data protection requirements.
  • Tell students how the recording will be made available to them and that it cannot be downloaded or shared. (You can find out more about how recording works in the guidance on Comparing Blackboard Collaborate and Google Meet for teaching)
  • Gain relevant consent from any guest speakers (see guidance below).
  • Ensure that your session does not contain any confidential or personal information.
  • Ensure that you comply with rules on copyright.
  • Switch on the recording during the session (you might want to set yourself a reminder for this!) and switch it off at the end.
  • Find ways for students who do not want to be recorded to participate in the session without being disadvantaged (see guidance below on data protection requirements).
  • Make the recording available to students. If it’s a small group session, you may want to share the recordings just with the group, not the whole cohort. See guidance below on limiting access to recordings to a small group.
  • Delete the recording by the end of the academic year (if students need the recording for their assessment then wait until after resits).

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Data Protection requirements

When you record an online teaching session, the recording may capture personal data from students, for example:
an image of the student with their name;

  • a video recording of the student alongside their name;
  • an audio recording of the student’s voice along with their name;
  • a record of the student’s “chat” activity along with their name.

The University has a legal basis for collecting and processing this data, but you cannot compel students to share their personal data. Therefore, you need to inform students about the recording and give them the chance to opt out of being recorded if they so choose. You also need to make sure that you handle any personal data appropriately.

Please make sure to read and follow the guidance in this section.

Informing students about the recording

To protect your students and to comply with data protection legislation, you need to notify students that you will be recording the session. We strongly advise that you do this as far in advance as possible.

Ways to do this could include:

  • Emailing students (see template below).
  • Posting information in your blackboard course (see template below).

You also need to display a slide (see templates below) at the start of each session and post a link to the student privacy notice. You must give students enough time to read the slide and the privacy notice and the opportunity to turn off their mic/camera or to opt out and leave the session if they want to.

Templates and links:

What if students do not want to be recorded?

Consider how to include students who do not want to be recorded in the session. For example, you could:

  • switch off the recording at certain points to allow students to ask questions;
  • allow students to turn off their microphone/camera if they do not want to share their audio/video;
  • conduct discussions in breakout groups since these are not recorded;
  • invite students to message the moderators directly rather than posting in the public chat panel.

Students can also choose to leave the session in order to avoid being recorded and should not be penalised for this.

If you are teaching a number of small groups within a cohort (e.g. seminar or tutorial groups), you could group students who do not want to be recorded together and not record their sessions.

Tip: You can create a series of Self selecting tutorial groups in Blackboard. These could be clearly labeled as “Seminars will be recorded” and “Seminars will not be recorded”, so that students could decide which group they wish to join. See the guidance on creating Groups in Blackboard.

Dealing with personal data

Your session recordings may include personal data, so you must make sure that the recordings are stored securely:

  • Do not enable students to download recordings.
  • Comply with university guidance on protecting personal data.
  • Delete the recordings by the end of the academic year (if students need the recordings for their assessment then wait until after resits).

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Further considerations

This section contains further guidance on specific aspects of recording sessions.

Alternatives to recording

Here are some alternatives that you could use to help students who could not attend the session access the content, and to help students who did attend to recall and revisit the material.

  • Students with Learning Support Plans (LSPs) may have permission to record the session for personal use using a third-party tool (e.g. audio recorder, screen recording software).
  • The Disability and Dyslexia Support Service (DDSS) may also arrange a note-taker for some disabled students. DDSS will contact you to ask for access for the note-taker/s.
  • Provide access to session materials (e.g. slides, worksheets) before and after the session to help students engage with the materials and get the most out of the session. You could encourage students who miss the session to complete any in-class tasks in their own time, if appropriate.
  • Provide a written/audio/video summary of key points from the session, or revisit these in the next session. If you are sending out regular communications to your students, you could include a brief summary each week of the key learning points from the sessions. Read our guidance on communicating with students.
  • During the session, generate a record of any discussions and activities. For example, if students are discussing a topic in breakout groups, ask each group to note down the key points from their discussion in a Google Doc. These could either be used by the group members or shared with the whole cohort.
  • Extend learning from the session with collaborative asynchronous activities, e.g. a discussion board task. This provides an opportunity for students who missed the session, or struggled to understand the content, to learn from other students.
Gaining consent from external speakers

In order to comply with relevant data protection and intellectual property law, you need to gain consent from any guest speakers in the session. Please ask them to complete the University of Sheffield digital presence consent form. We suggest that departments coordinate the process for gaining consent and storing consent forms.

A speaker has the right to withdraw their consent to be recorded at any time. Departments will need to develop a process for dealing with this. This should include:

  • Logging the withdrawal of consent
  • Communicating the withdrawal of consent to anyone who needs to know about it
  • Deleting recordings of the person who has withdrawn their consent (you could either delete the whole recording or edit out the individual’s contributions/presence)
Limiting access to recordings to a small group

You may wish to limit the webinars and recordings to tutorial groups. This will also enable you to accommodate different students who may or may not wish to have their sessions recorded (by creating ‘recording’ and ‘non-recording’ tutorial groups). You can do this by creating Groups in Blackboard, and allocating your tutorial group students to these Groups.

When you create the Groups, you should enable the use of Collaborate within the Groups. This means that each student Group in Blackboard will have its own private Collaborate room, only accessible to those students in that Group. You can now conduct and record the seminar within this private Collaborate room, and only the students within this Group will be able to access the sessions, and the recordings. Note - you will not be able to schedule Collaborate sessions in advance, if you use Collaborate within these Groups.

Guidance on creating Groups in Blackboard

Technical guidance

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Further information

Links and downloads

Internal Links:

Technical guidance:

External Links: