Classroom Recordings & FERPA: FAQs

As classroom technologies continue to evolve, and especially during times when remote or hybrid classes are necessary, more instructors are using video and audio recordings of class sessions and student projects. 

Recordings are sometimes used to allow enrolled students to watch a missed class session or to review an earlier session they attended, to share with another currently-enrolled class or a future class, or for accreditation purposes. Depending on how the recordings are created and edited, they may include personally identifiable information (PII) about students and thus constitute education records that are protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) — the federal student privacy law. 

These FAQs provide guidelines for acceptable practices in making and using video and audio recordings in the classroom setting. Additional information about photos, video, and audio recording under FERPA can be found on the U.S. Department of Education web page: FAQs on Photos and Videos under FERPA

On October 20, 2020, the Office of Legal Affairs hosted a Legal Training Session reviewing the FAQs below. Download slides here.


Classroom Recordings

Yes, the Office of Legal Affairs as added a suggested syllabus policy as follows:

Class sessions will all be audio- and/or video-recorded for the purposes of student-participant reference and access by other students enrolled in the same course (including students enrolled in different class sections or break-out groups). Student consent to being recorded during class is a condition of class participation. If you do not consent to being recorded during class, you will need to deactivate your video camera, keep your mute button activated, and participate only via the chat feature, but please note that such actions may have a negative impact on any portion of your grade that is based on class participation. Students are not permitted to make their own recordings of class sessions or to share or distribute University recordings of class sessions. NOTE: Students with specific electronic recording accommodations authorized by the Office of Disability Services may record classes; however, the instructor must be notified of any such accommodation prior to recording. Any distribution of such recordings is prohibited.

It depends.  

  • If a recording includes only the instructor or voices of students that are not personally identifiable, it is not a student education record, and FERPA does not limit its use.

  • If the recording includes the names or identifiable audio, communications, or images of students asking questions, making presentations, engaging in discussion, or leading a class (other than TAs), then the portions containing that information are personally identifiable information (PII) and do constitute student education records.

Within certain limits, yes. Instructors may share such recordings only in one of the following situations:

  1. With other students enrolled in the same course (regardless of whether such students are enrolled in the same class section or break-out group), for instructional and educational purposes only (see description of Limited Use Directory Information) — (caveat: See FAQ below about students who have withheld their Directory Information from disclosure); 

  2. With any person, if the recording is edited to remove the students’ names and personally identifiable audio, communications, and images; 

  3. With others identified by and in the manner allowed by a written FERPA consent from each student whose identifiable information is included in the recording; or

  4. With University officials who have a legitimate educational interest, or as otherwise permitted under limited FERPA exceptions.

Generally, yes. At UNC Charlotte, an instructor’s classroom recordings that contain students’ names, images, discussions, participation, or written chats/communications, are considered Limited Use Directory Information that may be disclosed to other students enrolled in the same course (regardless of whether such students are enrolled in the same class section or break-out group), for instructional and educational purposes only. (Caveat: See FAQ below about students who have withheld their Directory Information from disclosure.)

To protect the privacy of other students, students are not permitted to make their own recordings of class sessions or to share or distribute University recordings of class sessions. Students with specific electronic recording accommodations authorized by the Office of Disability Services may record classes; however, the instructor must be notified of any such accommodation prior to recording. Any distribution of such recordings is prohibited. See University Policy 402, Student Education Records (FERPA). It is advisable to include a syllabus policy reminding students of this limitation.

Yes. If access is limited to other students enrolled in the same class section (who were present for the recording or who would have been present for the recording but for an absence), FERPA does not limit or prevent its use and does not require obtaining a written consent. This allows instructors to permit students in the class to watch or review past class sessions that they may have missed or would like to view again.

 

Instructors should check their rosters on Banner at the beginning of each term to determine whether any of their students has opted out of sharing their Directory Information

If you identify a student in your course who has opted out, but you plan to share your class recordings that contain students’ personally identifiable information with other students enrolled in the same course (regardless of whether such students are enrolled in the same class section or break-out group), for instructional and educational purposes only (see description of Limited Use Directory Information), then discuss privately with the student your plans to record the class sessions, and offer them the opportunity to sign a FERPA consent to share the recording for the limited purpose of sharing with other students enrolled in the same course (regardless of whether such students are enrolled in the same class section, sub-section, or break-out group), for instructional and educational purposes only.

  1. If the student signs the FERPA consent voluntarily, then no further action is needed, and you may share the recording, but only with others identified by and in the manner allowed by the FERPA consent.

  2. If the student does not voluntarily sign a FERPA consent, then you should either:

    1. Plan your recordings so that the student’s name and personally identifiable audio, communications, and images are not shown in the video; or

    2. Edit your recordings to remove the name and personally identifiable audio, communications, and images of the student; or

    3. Not share the recordings.

NOTE: Regardless of whether the student has filed a request to withhold their Directory Information from disclosure or has signed a FERPA consent, the recording may be shared in the following ways:

  1. With any person, if the recording can be edited to remove the students’ names and personally identifiable audio, communications, and images; and 

  2. With University officials who have a legitimate educational interest, or as otherwise permitted under limited FERPA exceptions.

It depends. Under FERPA, this situation must be treated as if the recordings were being shown to a third-party audience, which requires FERPA compliance through use of consents or de-identification of any students depicted. There are several ways to use recordings that might include students’ names or personally identifiable audio, communications, or images:

  1. The instructor can plan the recording so that students (such as those asking questions during a class) are not shown in the video or referred to by name (another way to de-identify the students). One option for lecture-style classes is to first record the lecture, and then afterwards engage in unrecorded student questions and class discussion.

  2. The instructor may obtain individualized FERPA consents from the students in the recording which allow use of this portion of the recordings. This type of consent can be obtained on a case-by-case basis or from all the students at the outset of a class. Consent forms are available here

  3. The instructor can edit the recording to either omit any student who has not consented to the use of their voice or image or to de-identify the student in the recording (which can include avoiding or removing any mention of the student’s name, blurring the student’s image, altering voice recordings, etc.).

Consent must be voluntary. Students cannot be compelled or required to give consent to release their student information as a condition of class enrollment or participation. If possible, you may edit the recording to omit the student or de-identify the student from the recording, but if the student cannot be omitted or de-identified, you may not share the recording with other students outside the course or with third parties, except to those with a legitimate educational interest or as otherwise permitted under other limited FERPA exceptions.

Instructors can contact the Center for Teaching and Learning or OneIT for support and assistance with instructional technology, online teaching, hybrid teaching, and other academic technologies.

See FAQs on how to edit videos in Kaltura here (for splicing and clipping). For assistance in blurring, adding shapes (to cover a face), or manipulating audio, contact OneIT Service Desk.