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 class or a future class, or for accreditation purposes.
Depending on how these classroom 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.
Virginia Western recommends the following practices to ensure the protection of student privacy and compliance with FERPA:
- Classroom recordings are considered any recordings made as part of course activities including but not limited to recordings of synchronous online sessions using web conferencing such as Zoom, recordings of face-to-face sessions made with lecture capture software such as Panopto or any other audio or video recording that is created as a result of course activities.
- If a classroom recording contains Personally Identifiable Information (PII) including names or identifiable audio, communications, or images of students, it is considered an education record protected under FERPA and its use is limited.
- Classroom recordings of any kind that contain Personally Identifiable Information (PII) about students may only be displayed or made viewable to other students enrolled in the same course during the same term (regardless of whether such students are enrolled in the same class section or break-out group), for instructional and educational purposes only.
FERPA and Class Recordings FAQ
May a recording that includes student participation be posted for other class members to view or listen to?
Yes. If access is limited to other students enrolled in that course, FERPA does not limit or prevent its use and does not require obtaining a written consent. This allows instructors to create access for students in the class to watch or re-watch past class sessions.
Is there any way for recordings that include students’ PII to be used outside of the currently enrolled course and term?
Yes, by following one of the methods described below.
- The instructor may obtain individualized FERPA consents from the students in the recording which allow use of that portion of the recording. This type of consent can be obtained on a case-by-case basis or from all the students at the outset of a class. However, student FERPA consents are made on a voluntary basis and cannot be a condition of course enrollment. Click here for the FERPA Consent Form. (PDF)
- Recordings can be edited to either omit any student who has not consented to the use of their name, voice or image, or be edited 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.). See the Instructional Technology Infoguide here for more information.
Are there other restrictions on sharing classroom recordings?
Virginia Western’s learning management system (LMS), Canvas, offers a password-protected, secure environment which makes it easy for faculty to share class recordings in a safe, secure digital environment within individual courses.
Faculty that are using a non-Virginia Western system for hosting class recordings or any other media that features students or their work, should remove any and all material with student PII. If you are using a Google site or YouTube through you Virginia Western or VCCS accounts make sure that files are only accessible to students within the same course. It is best practice to provide access through Canvas to these resources. Contact OLIT for additional support.
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.
Note: Content on this page was adapted and reused with kind permission from our colleagues at the University of Massachusetts and Rice University.