Audio Video Recording policy: Guidance for Staff

August 2020 

This document should be read in conjunction with the Audio Video Recording Policy [1] and Heads of School Guidance [2]. 

Background

1. The Audio Video Recording Policy was introduced in 2014, alongside the implementation of the Mediasite Lecture Capture Multimedia Management system.

2. The policy was updated in 2016 when auto-publication of recordings was introduced and was substantially updated in 2020.

Context

3. Recording by the University of educational activities is an important part of the University’s strategy to enhance the quality of the student experience, and the University regards recording as part of mainstream academic work. Recordings of educational activities are an important part of the University’s delivery of its educational objectives in the public good.

4. The use of recordings is a well-established practice at many universities, and something that students expect as part of a 21st century university offering.

5. Recordings support the Inclusive Teaching Practice baselines[3], and help to ensure that the teaching and learning requirements of our diverse student population are met.

6. Recordings of education activities are often invaluable to those students whose circumstances, including those with disabilities, mean they cannot otherwise fully benefit from the educational activity.

7. The University’s Mediasite system is already heavily used by many staff in all Faculties – overall, 82% of all ‘lectures’ (as defined in the timetable) are scheduled for recording, and there are in excess of 1.5 million views of published content per year. However, there is inconsistent uptake of the recording of educational activities across, and within, Faculties.

8. Student demand for universal recording and publication of all educational activities has been steadily growing, and LUU’s official policy is to campaign for universal recording of lectures.

9. The University’s Digital Strategy for Student Education and Blended Learning Strategy both advocate the creation and use of audio and video recordings to enhance the quality of student education and the overall student experience.

10. Recording of educational activities is an expectation for students, and is widespread across the Higher Education sector. There are considerable educational benefits to recording for educational purposes, including:

  • Flexible learning – any-time and anywhere access to learning materials, at the learner’s own pace;
  • Multi-modal learning – providing learning materials in multiple formats to suit individual learning preferences;
  • Inclusivity – audio and video recordings provide learning content in multiple formats to support our diverse student population;
  • Deep learning – ability to evaluate and contextualise learning materials over time;
  • Accessibility – particularly for students with disabilities or whose first language is not English;
  • Practicality – ability to pause, repeat and / or revisit complex learning materials to increase understanding.[4]

11. The AV Recording policy is an institutional policy covering the legal and practical implications of recording, editing, and publishing recordings. It does not take a pedagogical position, which is set by the University’s education strategy, interpreted by Faculties and Schools.

12. The University’s student education strategy encourages student-centred, inclusive, flexible, active learning approaches, which will be manifest in a wide range of educational activities – where these approaches are consistent with an ability to record the event for student use, this is where the AV recording policy comes into play.

13. The University has audio and video technology for recording of lectures and other activities available in all central teaching rooms, and staff have access to desktop software for recording audio and video materials. The University is very keen to ensure that these facilities are maximised and used responsibly.

14. In rooms where video cameras are installed, the majority of these are front facing and fixed angle. All rooms are equipped with audio recording equipment in the front of the room[5].

15. Traditionally, the overriding use of the system has been for recording of timetabled educational activities, but since the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a significant increase in use of Desktop Capture recording by staff and students, and greater use of Mediasite recordings for active learning approaches, and creation of digital education content. This is expected to continue in the 2020/21 academic session.

16. Availability of recordings is consistent with the obligation for the University to meet its anticipatory duty under the Equality Act 2010. Recording of educational activities is important for many disabled students at the University, (presently some 12% of the University’s student population). Use of the University’s systems for recording educational activities enables disabled students to access learning content without having to identify themselves as disabled, and ensures that students who have not disclosed their disability to the University are also able to access lectures.

17. There have been numerous complaints received by the Disability Services about the lack of availability of recordings of educational activities, and a number of workarounds have been implemented where Mediasite recordings have not been made available.

18. A large-scale longitudinal research study of Leeds’ staff and student perceptions of ‘lecture capture’, use of recordings, and the impact of recordings on lecture attendance was published in 2019[6] and includes a detailed literature review of the pedagogic value of educational recordings. The findings demonstrated the strong demand, and use of recordings, by students.

19. Analysis of ‘lecture capture’ recording policies across the Russell Group shows that the majority have adopted ‘opt-out’ policies, and are increasingly reducing exceptions for recording, to ensure all students have access to learning materials (e.g. disabled students).

20. A major enhancement to our recording capability currently being implemented is the automated captioning of audio and video recordings. Evidence shows that students perceive high value in closed captions and transcripts for learning[7], and they provide essential access to learning materials for some students with particular educational needs.

The Policy

21. The key elements of the policy on audio and video recordings for educational purposes are as follows:

  • The policy applies to all audio and video recordings for educational purposes.
  • It is up to the Head of School/Service (or nominee) to decide when it is appropriate for recordings to take place.
  • Staff and students are deemed to have read and understood the audio and video recording policy.
  • Staff who are recorded are the content “owner” in the systems, and they are the only individuals who should edit, publish or share recordings for which they are the content owner. Content owners can give permission to other individuals to edit, publish or share recordings on their behalf.
  • Unless the University’s Data Protection Officer has explicitly agreed otherwise no recordings of special category personal data will be permitted without the explicit (opt-in) consent of those being recorded.
  • If staff or students at any stage wish to have a recording edited, they must request a change from the person responsible for the activity being recorded.
  • The University will inform Students and staff about the recording of teaching activities and the existence of the Policy. Information will be given as part of the student contract and the student and staff privacy notices.  There shall be a notice in all rooms where recordings are to be made.
  • Staff can be exempted from having their teaching activities recorded with the agreement of their Head of School or their nominee, where they can demonstrate a sound pedagogical, legal or other justifiable reason based on their particular situation.
  • If a student with a disability has a requirement to have recordings available this will be respected, even where the member of staff to be recorded wishes not to record. Unless there are exceptional circumstances and an acceptable compromise can be found, recording will take place.
  • Where a lapel microphone is provided in a teaching space, staff must make use of this equipment when talking. The use of lapel microphones enables effective voice reinforcement for students in the room, and provides high quality audio recordings.
  • All audio and video recordings of timetabled educational activities will be automatically captioned within the Mediasite system, using speech-to-text technology. Only captions which meet a defined quality threshold of at least 80% will be published to students. Captions made be possible using other systems, and should be used where possible. Captions will only edited they are needed as a reasonable adjustment for a student with a disability.
  • All scheduled recordings (i.e. those recordings scheduled via the University’s timetable system) will be automatically published 2 working days after the recording takes place.
  • Only in exceptional circumstances will authorisation for recording by students be given.  An example of an exceptional circumstance could be where a student with a disability needs to make a personal recording.
  • Explicit consent will be obtained from staff where recordings are to be made publicly available.
  • Owners of Mediasite recordings can allow users to download recordings from the Mediasite system.
  • Recordings (both timetabled and non-timetabled) should be kept for a period of 2 years.
  • Students may not be permitted to opt-out of recordings where a recording is an explicit requirement of a University award (e.g. recording of assessed presentations).
  • In accordance with existing policy the University owns staff recordings.  However, the University will respect the rights of staff to be accredited as authors and performers.
  • Recordings by students will be owned by them, subject to the conditions in the University’s Policy on Intellectual Property Rights.
  • If recordings have taken place without consent then the University is clear that it maintains its “right to take down”.
  • Any recordings that contain personal data must be kept securely in accordance with the University’s Information Security Policy.
  • The University provides training to staff to ensure that they know how to operate the policy properly.

Guidance for staff

Scope of policy in relation to use of Mediasite, Teams and Collaborate Ultra 

The AV recording policy was originally written in relation to the Mediasite system, which was the primary system for recording of audio video resources. However, recently the use of Collaborate Ultra and Microsoft Teams has increased significantly. The AV recording policy now describes the position in relation to all major digital education systems available for audio video recording (Mediasite, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Stream, Collaborate Ultra).  

Range of educational activities intended for recording 

The AV recording policy covers all educational activities. In practice many staff have interpreted it as covering lectures, where a lecture is defined as a primarily didactic (teacher-centred) activity, with minimal student interaction. The vast majority of activities recorded through Mediasite have been timetabled ‘lectures’. However, the policy also covers other educational activities, including seminars, workshops etc., whilst recognising that (i) audio-video recording facilities are not available in all teaching spaces; (ii) there may be good pedagogic, legal and practical reasons why recording of these activities may have little value. Therefore, staff are asked to consider the AV recording policy in relation to all educational activities, given the strong demand from students for recordings to be available for as many educational activities as possible. Where it is considered that recordings of non-lecture events are not appropriate, staff should use this as a rationale for a request for opt-out to the Head of School. 

Policy position in relation to pedagogical approaches

The AV Recording policy is an institutional policy covering the legal and practical implications of recording, editing, and publishing recordings. It does not take a pedagogical position, which is set by the University’s education strategy, interpreted by Faculties and Schools. The University’s student education strategy encourages student-centred, inclusive, flexible, active learning approaches, which will be manifest in a wide range of educational activities – where these approaches are consistent with an ability to record the event for student use, this is where the AV recording policy comes into play.

Implications on attendance

The research paper cited in the AV recording policy includes a major analysis of student attendance versus AV recording – the results showed a small but statistically significant reduction in attendance when lectures were recorded, but with over 80% attendance in all scenarios. There are a number of conflicting studies on the impact of lecture recording on attendance, and these were cited in the literature review of the paper. The paper was peer-reviewed and published in a leading international education journal. Increasingly, the University is considering the impact of blended learning approaches on our view of attendance, and moving towards thinking about student engagement with learning activities, through physical attendance and engagement with digital content and activities.

Student version of policy and advice for engaging with AV content 

The Skills@Library website contains information for students about using AV recordings to support learning, and the IT website contains information about using the University’s digital education systems.

Availability of AV and recording facilities in all teaching spaces

The University provides AV, computer facilities and recording capabilities in all Central Teaching Spaces. It is acknowledged that these facilities are not available in other rooms across the university used for teaching and learning activities. The university is aware of the need to extend these facilities across more locations, and this work will continue.

Lapel microphones

The issues with the functionality of lapel microphones are acknowledged. The Facilities Directorate are in the process of replacing the microphones with ones which have internal rechargeable batteries which are charged via a docking station.

Performance management

The AV recording policy has an unequivocal statement that states that ‘Recordings will not be used as a performance management tool.’   

The AV recording policy also includes a clause that AV recordings could be used by staff or students as evidence in complaints, and can be requested as evidence by external regulators.

HoS approval for opt-out

The University requires Heads of Schools/Services to review opt-out requests to ensure consistent application of the AV recording policy to students and has produced detailed guidance to help Heads to give advice, support staff and resolve situations.

Opt-out arrangements

The AV recording policy and guidance for Heads of School/Service provide detailed information about the potential reasons for opt-outs, including pedagogic, legal and practical issues. The University recognises that not all educational activities are appropriate for recording, and that in some cases recording will not add value to students’ educational experience, and recognises that there are some instances where staff will not be able to, or wish to, have recordings.

Disabled students

Students with disabilities are able to make recordings of educational activities themselves, with the appropriate permissions from Disability Services. However, following extensive feedback from students, the University believes that these recordings should be provided through its systems, and made available to students with disabilities. Access to recordings can be limited to individual students, where required.

Mediasite editor

The limitations of the Mediasite editing facilities are acknowledged. The system vendor Sonic Foundry, have committed to an overhaul of the editing system, and will be releasing an enhanced editing tool.

Editing of recordings in Stream, Collaborate

Currently, it is not possible to edit recordings in Collaborate Ultra, and the pausing of recordings is not possible. These issues have been raised with the system vendor, Blackboard, and the University will push for these functionalities to be included in future releases of the system.  

Recordings in Microsoft Stream (either from MS Teams recordings or directly within Stream) can be edited, and publication can be managed.

48h auto-publication period

Analysis of system data showed that the vast majority of recordings are not edited, and those which are edited are mainly edited within 48 hours. Therefore, as a result of student demand for quicker access to recordings to enable effective study, the automatic publication time is being reduced to 2 working days. Staff can make recordings available before the automatic publication time, and can remove the auto-publication feature within the system. 

The system vendor Sonic Foundry, have agreed to introduce a system change to ensure that recordings are published after 2 working days, taking account of weekends and university closed days.

Quality threshold for caption publication

Whilst this is a rapidly evolving area, and the University and systems vendors are working hard on this initiative, it must be acknowledged that is a new venture for all education providers. The AV recording policy states that Mediasite captions will only be published when they reach a quality threshold of at least 80% accuracy. It is not possible to introduce a threshold for auto-captions produced within Microsoft Teams or Microsoft Stream.

Editing of captions

The concerns about staff workload to edit captions are acknowledged. There are number of dimensions to this issue:  

  1. Students with disabilities who require closed captions are often very well aware of the limitations of this technology, and have a range of strategies to cross-check the accuracy of captions. These students will be in regular contact with Disability Services to gain individual support. The provision of closed captions on AV recordings will be a significant benefit for these students, even where the quality of the closed captions is not 100% accurate.  
  2. The University does not wish to create additional workload for staff to manually edit closed captions. Therefore, the wording of the policy has been amended to reflect where edits will be required, stating that in most cases editing of captions will not take place.  
  3. For auto-captions produced in the Mediasite system, the University will introduce a technical solution that will allow staff to resubmit captions for human-captioning, where edits are required by students. This will be human-captioning undertaken by a third party provider and will only be used where edits are required by students with disabilities.

Captioning requirements across systems

Auto-captioning will be available for all AV content in Mediasite, and will be automatically created for all scheduled recordings, desktop captures and ad-hoc recordings. Captions will only be published if they reach a quality threshold of at least 80%.  

Auto-captioning is available for Microsoft Teams and Stream, and can’t be altered.  

Auto-captioning is not currently available for Collaborate Ultra, and the University is working with the system vendor, Blackboard, to understand the system roadmap for this functionality.

Content ownership and intellectual property

he AV recording policy makes a distinction between ‘content owners’ and Ownership (as related to Intellectual Property).  In the Mediasite system, content ownership is defined by the staff allocated to a teaching event in the Timetable, and this determines who has ownership, editing, management and publication rights over the recording in the system. For Mediasite desktop captures, adhoc recordings and for recordings in Collaborate Ultra and MS Teams, the content owner is the individual who creates the content, and they have control over the editing, management and publication of the recording.   

The Intellectual Property position in the AV recording policy is a reflection of the University’s Intellectual Property policy.

Use of third-party material in recordings

The University acknowledges that extensive, legitimate, use of third-party material in educational activities would constitute a reasonable reason for an opt-out. 

Retention policy

The retention and deletion of scheduled recordings in Mediasite is 2 years, as these recordings are intended to be a supplement to face-to-face educational activities, and therefore should not be needed for long-term access. Other recordings in Mediasite are not automatically deleted, as applies to recordings in Collaborate Ultra and Microsoft Stream, and staff are asked to use the University’s data retention schedule to determine when these recordings can be, or should be, deleted.

Other relevant documents and information

Footnotes

  1. Audio Video Recording Policy available at: https://www.leeds.ac.uk/secretariat/documents/avr_policy.pdf
  2. Heads of School guidance available at: https://www.leeds.ac.uk/secretariat/documents/avr_guidance.pdf
  3. See: https://inclusiveteaching.leeds.ac.uk/
  4. https://digitalpractice.leeds.ac.uk/
  5. These microphones may capture the voices of members of the audience.
  6. Morris NP, Swinnerton B, Coop T. 2019. Lecture recordings to support learning: a contested space between students and teachers. Computers and Education,140: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2019.103604
  7. https://www.3playmedia.com/resources/industry-studies/student-uses-of-closed-captions-and-transcripts/