It’s not uncommon for college students to find ways to optimize their learning experience. They use productivity and note-taking apps just to get the most out of their education. However, these days, with most students using a smartphone, recording lectures in college has become a popular learning strategy.
According to a study from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, over 66% of students supplement their study workflow with recorded lectures. This is also the reason why voice recording apps have become extremely popular. However, because they have become more accessible, many college students easily overlook copyright laws and policies. What may seem like a simple recording can get a student in legal trouble.
So, in this article, we’re going to discuss tips for recording lectures in college without breaking policies and laws. We’ll discuss all the legalities involved in recording university courses.
Is Recording Lectures in College Legal?
The short answer is “yes”. Recording lectures in college has been an accepted practice for students with disabilities who need access to a better educational experience. Even so, you still need to consider certain rules when recording courses. Here are a few things to remember:
- Recording lectures in college are allowed for students with disabilities for personal educational reasons. These are individuals who are not able to take or read notes during classes.
- Recorded lectures are for personal use only and should not be shared with other people without the consent of the speaker.
- Recorded courses contain information that is protected by copyright laws. It should only be published or quoted with the permission of the lecturer alongside proper attribution to the source.
Besides the factors we mentioned above, you should also consider the following:
The Eligibility of the Student
Eligible students are able to freely record lectures, especially because the ARS makes smartphones and computer applications accessible for them. Whether they are having the class in person or remotely, they still have the privilege to take audio recordings of their classes. It’s worth noting once more that eligible students are those who are struggling to take clearly written notes while attending a lecture. They can overcome this issue by listening to the audio recording.
The Lecturer’s Right to Privacy and Copyright Protection
Most of the time, when a lecturer prohibits the use of recording devices, it is because of copyright concerns. They also prefer maintaining their right to keep the classroom discussions private. Even so, their copyright and privacy concerns do not go over the need to accommodate students.
The Accessibility Resource and Service (ARS) is responsible for addressing and respecting privacy and copyright concerns while ensuring that student accessibility is accommodated. Usually, these conditions can be guaranteed via a contract between the educator and the student. The stipulations in the legal document should explicitly mention the purpose and limitations of recording lectures in college. The ARS can oversee the fulfillment of the deal’s requirements.
The Course Requires Self-Disclosure from Students
Some classes require students to disclose personal experiences. When they are aware that the session is being recorded, they may hesitate to share freely. Using a recording device substitutes the note-taking capability of a student. However, what if the course is not one that requires participants to take notes? What if it is a class that encourages open discussions? If so, then the lecturer can make an announcement that prohibits them to use a recording device.
The Student’s Responsibilities
If you’re applying for eligibility, you need to agree to the conditions for recording lectures in college. You will have to sign a statement that says the recording lectures in college will be for personal use only. Moreover, the lecturer or speaker will hold the intellectual property rights to the courses.
Aside from that, you won’t be permitted to share the recordings with other individuals. You won’t be allowed to offer the recordings to journalists, upload them to file-sharing platforms, or share them on social media sites. The statement will also include a clause saying that failure to adhere to the stipulations will lead to academic consequences.
The Exceptions to the Rule
We’ve already established that students with disabilities have the absolute privilege to record lectures. However, if you don’t have that privilege, you may still record discussions provided that you ask for permission. The easiest way to avoid legal issues about recording lectures in college is by informing the people involved.
All you need to do is get consent from the lecturer. In some cases, the teacher will even be the one to record the lecture and make the audio and video available to the students. Now, even if the practice is lawful where you live, if you do it in secret, you may face legal issues. For example, in Pennsylvania, the Wiretap Law makes it illegal to record private conversations without the consent of all the parties involved. These conversations include those that take place in public places like lecture halls.
Can Your Professor Prohibit Video and Audio Recordings?
Are you eligible to take class recordings for disability or accessibility reasons? If so, then your professor does not have the right to prohibit you from recording lectures in college. However, remember that not all college educators are familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). So, if you have concerns over this issue, it is best that you course them to the student accessibility representative on your campus.
Moreover, you should review all the classroom recording policies in your university or college. Go through all the necessary channels to fight for your rights. It’s better to be upfront with your professor than to create mistrust or confusion in the process.
What Are the Forms You’ll Need in Recording Lectures?
In general, you’ll need at least one of these consent forms to be allowed to record college lectures:
- A statement of consent from the instructor, lecturer, or professor
- An approved ADA accommodation for the student with a learning disability
- A signed agreement between the professor and the student
- An approval letter from the college or university
The application process is not universal for all educational institutions. You need to consult your university or college to know about the requirements and policies for recording class lectures.
What Are the Benefits of Recording College Lectures?
College students always have a schedule packed with lectures, homework, and social activities. It’s undeniable how much pressure you go through every day. Now, if you aren’t efficient at taking lecture notes, you might not be maximizing your education.
As we’ve mentioned, students with disabilities have the privilege of recording class lectures. However, anyone can do the same as long as they get consent from their professors. If you have access to the lecture recordings, you can enjoy the following benefits:
It can be challenging to focus on what the lecturer is saying when you are furiously writing down notes. If you want to completely absorb what your professor is saying, you need to give them your undivided attention. It’s also inefficient to learn from your scribbled notes later on. However, if you are recording the lectures, you can fully focus on the session. After all, you have the confidence that you have an audio recording that you can review later.
Your note-taking skills may be your bragging rights. However, it’s impossible to capture all the information you need. In college, lectures are usually in-depth and fast-paced. So, you cannot jot down everything.
On the other hand, when you record a lecture, you can rest easy knowing that you’ll cover all the topics. After the class, you can listen to the recording and even transcribe it for easier discussion review. So, if you want to maximize your learning, cover every vital information by recording the lecture.
Control Over the Way You Learn
Every college student has a way of absorbing lesson materials. Some prefer reading books or watching a series of slides. However, others learn best when they listen to a lecturer. So, recording classes is a great way to accommodate your learning style.
If you learn better by reading the subject, you can also convert the recording into a transcript. You don’t have to transcribe the lesson yourself. For example, you can take advantage of GoTranscript’s services and get a 100% human-generated transcript of the recording. This way, you can have more time to study the lecture and maximize your learning.
Tips on Recording College Lectures
Once you’ve secured your permission to record your classes, you can follow these steps:
1. Prepare Your Recording Equipment
Whether you’re using an audio recorder or your smartphone, you must ensure that your device can handle the task. So, check the following:
- Battery – Make sure that the device is fully charged because long recordings can drain its battery quickly.
- Storage capacity – In general, audio recordings are small. However, they can easily add up when you have multiple classes to record.
To ensure that you won’t run out of battery, bring a portable charger. If you’re using an external audio recording device, don’t forget to bring some fresh batteries with you.
2. Choose the Best Classroom Spot for Recording
If you want to capture a clear recording of the lecture, you should sit closer to the front. Now, if your professor is using a mic and speakers, you might want to choose a seat towards the right or left of the classroom where the sound is amplified.
3. Keep Taking Notes While Recording
Of course, before the lecture starts, you need to test the recording. You need to ensure that you’re capturing the optimal audio quality. Once everything’s good, click Record, and don’t let the device distract you.
Even though you’re recording the lecture, it’s still best to write down important notes. You can also check your recording device to see the timestamp. This way, it will be easier for you to find the section in the recording that you need.
Once the lecture is over, don’t forget to click Stop on the recording to save the file.
4. Get a Transcript of the Recording
It’s great to have an audio recording of your lecture. However, it can be time-consuming to play back the hour-long recording just to review the critical information you need. So, instead of giving yourself a hard time, convert the audio recording into text.
You can spend hours transcribing the recording yourself, but doing so would be counterproductive. The best solution here is to get the file transcribed by professionals. If you want a cost-effective option, choose GoTranscript’s 100% human-generated transcripts. You can expect legal-grade accuracy without burning a hole in your pocket.
5. Go Back to Your Notes and Transcripts
You can review the transcript of the lecture alongside the notes you took during the class. If you wrote down the timestamps of vital topics, it will be easier for you to find the sections that you need. You can also search for keywords or phrases within the file to save time in searching for topics.
Now, if you must share the transcript with other students, remember to ask for permission from your professor. As we’ve mentioned, you are only allowed to record classes for personal use. If you break the agreement you signed, you may face academic or even legal consequences.
Lecture recordings and transcripts are great resources for maximizing your learning. However, if you want to avoid legal issues, it’s best that you consult with the right university body. Students with disabilities have accessibility rights, which include the freedom to record lectures. Even so, the safest option is to get written consent and an ADA approval before proceeding with the recording.