Sometimes, people look to me for advice and wisdom.
My advice today, to anyone who works in a role similar to mine is: try to avoid being in an institution-wide consultation about an opt-out lecture recording policy at a time of national industrial action.
We are consulting on a draft new policy at Edinburgh. It’s a good policy. It’s better than previous policies and it’s been developed over many months with input from across the University.
I am a strong believer that if you are a member of a union you should remain a member of that union even when you become senior management. The reason for this is that I believe you get better decision making when there is diversity around the board table, and union members are part of that diversity of thinking. Having some managers in the room who are union members means you get better management which is more inclusive and considerate of a range of staff views. The hope, is that with this better-informed thinking, comes fewer staff-management stand-offs.
Because of this, I have ensured that the campus unions have been part of the policy consultation since the start. A UCU rep has been part of our task group.
What have learned:
‘We can just use recorded lectures‘ is the knee-jerk go-to response of university management when threatened by an academic walk-out, but that really isn’t what this is all about. The University believes that having more lectures recorded and offering a consistent staff and student experience around that service, benefits us all in the longer term. That is why they have invested.
For colleagues at Edinburgh University, please let me assure you: The new policy is predicated on the idea that we are all in this together.
The new policy clearly states the essential purpose and aims to address a number of concerns. In the Policy Point 1. The statement of the “essential purpose” in the policy is to reassure lecturers that the intention of the service is the provision of recordings for students to review, and that this is limited to the students on the Course for which the lecture is delivered i.e. those who were entitled and expected to be present at the original lecture.
In 1.5 it clearly states that to use the lecture for business continuity , such as a volcanic eruption leaving everyone in the wrong place around the world*, or loss of a major teaching building, or absence of a major teaching person, the university can use the recording ‘if the lecturer and other participants agree, and as specified within business continuity plans relevant to the School. ‘ People on strike would presumably not agree. That is the reassurance we have been giving colleagues.
The essential purpose referred to within this policy is to allow the students undertaking a taught Course to review recordings of lectures given as part of that Course. The policy also permits a lecturer to re-use recordings of their lectures for other relevant and appropriate purposes, if all the participants in the recording agree to this.
Use of recordings
1 The University will provide recordings of lectures to students on taught Courses, where possible, to aid their learning through review and reflection. These recordings are not, other than in very exceptional circumstances, a replacement for lecture attendance or other contact hours.
1.1 The Lecture Recording Policy Privacy Statement details how the University will use and share personal data in relation to the lecture recording service.
1.2 Recording of sensitive personal data as defined in current legislation shall not take place without the explicit written consent of the person(s) to whom the data relate.
1.3 The University will provide lecture recordings to students on the Course(s) to which the lecture relates. By default, it will also provide access to the staff associated with the Course(s) in the Virtual Learning Environment. The lecturer may restrict staff access to a recording further if required.
1.4 The University encourages teaching innovation, sharing and re-use of recorded lectures where relevant and appropriate. A lecturer may publish a recording of their lecture as an open educational resource, with appropriate modifications and safeguards, including an appropriate attribution, licence and having obtained any permissions required from other participants or third parties whose intellectual property resides within the recording. Guidance on this is contained within the Open Educational Resources Policy and Website Accessibility Policy. Staff and students may otherwise only publish or share restricted-access lecture recordings with the permission of the School that owns the Course and of the lecturer and any other participants in the recording.
1.5 A School may use a past recording held within the lecture recording service in exceptional situations to provide continuity, if the lecturer and other participants agree, and as specified within business continuity plans relevant to the School.
1.6 The recordings and any associated metadata will not be used by the University for staff performance review or disciplinary processes except in the case of alleged gross misconduct. A lecturer may however choose to use recordings of their own lectures for these purposes or to allow peer observation of their teaching.
1.7 Learning Analytics from the lecture recording service may be used in accordance with the Learning Analytics policy.
* I was first convinced of the value of lecture recording ( and video conferencing) when that Icelandic volcano stranded the staff and students of my university all around the world. There were no flights in and out of Europe and, as an international research institution, we were all widely scattered. The impact on teaching, and the research activities and conferences for those few weeks was considerable.