FERPA and Class Recordings:  What You Need to Know

With the growing prevalence of virtual and online course elements, faculty and students alike have many questions regarding how to best protect student privacy--especially privacy relating to class video recordings.  Most simply, online and HyFlex course elements (course recordings, online proctoring, Zoom sessions, etc.) are covered by FERPA protections in the exact same ways that traditional classes are covered.  Ball State University's learning management software (LMS), Canvas, offers a password-protected, secure environment which makes it easy for faculty to share class recordings in a safe, secure digital environment with individual course sections.  If you are leveraging non-BSU systems for hosting class recordings or any other media that feature students or their work--please review the information below and consider using Canvas, Ball State University's learning management system.

General Information

If an element of your class is recorded using Zoom or another video conferencing platform, and is created or edited in a way that shares student information, the recording may constitute an educational record that is protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) - the federal student privacy law.

FERPA Class Recording FAQs

If a recording includes only the instructor/faculty member, it does not constitute a student record and FERPA protection laws would not limit the content's use.  If the recording includes students speaking, asking questions, making presentations or otherwise participating in the course in any manner which makes it possible to identify the student, the segments containing recordings of the student do constitute protected educational records.  Such educational records can only be used as permitted by FERPA, or in a manner allowed through written consent from the student.
Yes.  You may post a class recording that includes student participation in your Canvas course as long as access is limited only to other students in the same class section.  FERPA does not limit or prevent the use of class recordings for use in the same class section and does not require obtaining written consent in such cases.  Simply posting class video recordings to the same Canvas course section allows instructors to create secure and safe access for students in the class to watch or re-watch past class recordings.  Sharing videos in Canvas also protects student content behind two-factor authentication.

Generally, this is not advised.  Faculty are advised to seek permission from both BSU and from students in any case where a course video might be shown outside of the content of the originating course.  However, there are several ways to use recordings that include student participation.

  • To use a video featuring students outside of the originating course section, an instructor may obtain individual consents from the students in the recording which allow the 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.
  • Recordings featuring student interactions can be edited to either omit any student who has not consented to the use of their voice or image, or can be edited to de-identify the student in the recording.
  • Recordings can also be planned so that students (such as those asking questions during a class) are not shown in the video or referred to by name.

The best and easiest way to protect videos or other digital materials that feature student interactions is to only share them within the context of those students' originating course section.  Canvas allows you to flexibly share content with students, while offering peace of mind when it comes to digital file sharing and student privacy.  So long as access to materials is limited to only students in their class section, FERPA does not limit or prevent video use and does not require obtaining a written consent.

Some instructors choose to leverage media distribution systems for course content, though this is not advised.  If access to recordings featuring students might not be limited to students in the class section, instructors must plan the recordings accordingly to remove personally identifiable student information.  Instructors must make sure not to show students who are asking questions or refer to the students by name.  If sharing live class videos outside of Canvas, avoid repeating student names in the recording (de-identifying the students removes the need for a specific consent from each student in the recording).  If a student appears on camera, their identity must be either edited out or a written consent must be obtained - otherwise, the recording should not be distributed.

Because student presentations make it difficult to de-identify the student, the instructor should obtain a consent from the student making a presentation.  Click here for a sample consent and release form.

Under FERPA, this situation must be treated as if the recordings were being shown to a third-party audience.  This requires FERPA compliance through use of consent forms or de-identification of any students depicted.
Any use of recordings must comply with FERPA, either through written consent or de-identification of students depicted.
Students cannot be compelled or required to give consent.  If a student declines to sign a FERPA consent, the instructor may edit the student out of the recording or de-identify them.
Instructors should keep student consent forms on file for as long as the recordings are being used or at least three years.

Whenever you have questions on FERPA or University policies, please consult the Registrar's Office at (765) 285-1722 or registrar@bsu.edu.

You may have questions about videos and online course content.  You may contact Online and Strategic Learning for valuable support at (765) 285-1763 or strategiclrn@bsu.edu.