Cold Lunch & Hot Topic Follow-up: To Record or Not to Record

To Record or Not to Record? 

That appears to be the question many of us are asking ourselves.  

COVID has accelerated the presence of remote learning technology in the classroom. Much of this technology allows for videoconferencing and video recording. For many of us videoconferencing has become a normal part of the workday as we use Teams and Zoom for classes and/or meetings. This increased use and comfort of working with technology has translated into our teaching and learning, so the question is more of a should we record instead of a can we record. 

Comfort with recording, however, does not require us to implement that technology in the classroom. As you decide what to do for your class, CATL would encourage you to think first about pedagogy and content before considering technology. 

The purest and simplest answer is to be consistent with the modality of your class. The reality, though, is that our students have become accustomed to recordings being available  because we have offered recordings to support learning as part of our response to COVID. As we move away from that emergency approach to teaching, some students may still expect class recordings to be readily available regardless of the modality if they miss a class now for illness, family obligations, or work.  

Perhaps this point has merit, however, there are a few limitations we would suggest you consider before you make your final decision regarding whether to record or not record your classes.  

It may be easy to record a class meeting if you are in one of the classrooms that has all the equipment necessary to support videoconferencing or lecture streaming. Virtual classrooms that are completely run in Teams or Zoom are also easy to record. Before you hit the record button, though, you need to be mindful of your pedagogy. If your classroom is not equipped with cameras and microphones, it may seem like using our GBIT provided laptops, smart phones, or a DE cart could be a solution. But such a solution is limited by technology. We have all been in meetings this semester where the audio and video focused on one person or access to information shared in the meeting was limited. Recording with our laptops, DE carts, or personal phones creates a limited, potentially inequitable learning experience.  

If you rely on active learning, large class discussions, or significant periods of Q&A in your class, passively watching a recording of the video may not yield a comparable learning experience for your students. The CATL Team has curated a few ideas to consider offering students who must miss a class meeting which can be viewed below.  

If you elect to record a specific class meeting to accommodate a student absence, please follow best practices in video sharing, as well as guidelines for FERPA. Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching provides a good starting point to consider as you design and deliver Effective Educational Videos. In a recording, you can elect to pause or remove student conversations in class, but remember that if students’ images, names, or voices are captured in the video, you should limit access to the video to that one class. The Department of Education provides guidance a FAQ on Photos and Videos that should help with determining how best to manage FERPA concerns with class recordings.  

Finally, if these conversations have led to thoughts about your class modality and whether you should change it for a future term, please consult with your Chair. They, in consultation with the Associate Deans and Associate Provost, can help you with any policy questions you might have about the UWGB modalities. 

Strategies to Deal with Student Absences and Makeup Work 

  • At the beginning of the semester, create semester-long small groups of students and encourage them to communicate with each other about sharing notes from class. You can create a Canvas Discussion group for students to interact or post photos or links to their class notes.
    • You can also encourage students to coordinate amongst their group and share what strategy for note taking is most effective and ask students to create a plan for sharing class notes when a group member has missed a class.
    • You can use Hypothesis to create a shared note-taking document that is assigned to these small groups (e.g., post your module PowerPoint slides as a group Hypothesis PDF document for possible annotating).
  • If students are working on a group project and one of their members is missing, have one student in the group be a notetaker to fill in their missing member on what the group accomplished during class. The student who missed class and group work time will know of any important decisions that were made and be aware of tasks they need to complete to make up for the missed work time.
    • You could even require students to complete a group charter at the beginning of the group project to establish group member roles, expectations, and communication methods.
  • Have students do research to find scholarly resources, videos, or web resources that supplement the topics and materials covered during the days they missed. Ask for a brief summary of the source or sources. Bonus: you may learn of a few new resources to share with the class.
  • If your class includes reading assignments, ask students to submit a reading journal to share their observations and questions regarding assigned reading content. The reading journal serves both to meet participation for in-person class and an opportunity to engage with students about the content shared and discussion questions they may have asked if in class.
  • If you track attendance or incorporate participation points in your course, consider creating a Canvas Discussion Board where students can respond to prompts as a make-up activity if they miss class.
  • If a student missed class, and you require them to complete an alternative assignment to make up for the in-class absence, use the “Assign to” feature in Canvas to assign just the absent student(s) the make-up activity.
  • Administer your exams and quizzes through Canvas. Doing so can make it easier for students to make them up if they miss an exam day. Canvas quiz features like shuffling answer options or using question banks can also help prevent cheating if you are concerned about a student taking the quiz later than the rest of the class.
  • If you use Power Point slides for lectures or in-class instruction, consider posting them to Canvas. You can share the slides before or after class. A best practice for slides is to have limited text that students fill in with notes, as note-taking is an important part of studying and learning.
    • As a bonus for sharing your slides with the class, some students might like to print off the slides in advance and use the paper copy for taking notes during the lecture, which will also be helpful for studying later.
  • Consider supplementing your face-to-face instruction by regularly sharing brief videos (and/or audio and text resources) in Canvas that review “muddiest points” from class meetings or work through additional example problems. This type of material can be videos you create yourself or videos you have discovered on a public site (YouTube, etc.). Doing this can aid students who missed class and reinforce the learning of students who were present.
    • In general, short, targeted videos tend to be more effective than full lecture recordings and as a bonus you can reuse the material from term to term.
  • Consider using in-class digital activities which can be completed synchronously or asynchronously.
    • For example, a Hypothesis annotation activity or a collective note-taking document can be used during in-class instruction but can also be completed by a student after the fact, allowing them to see their peers' contributions as well.
    • Another example is the use of a PlayPosit video with embedded questions. PlayPosit Broadcast can be used to let students interact with the video synchronously in class, or you can create a lightbulb activity to be completed before or after a course or for an asynchronous course.

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