Can Students Record Class Lectures?

How did you take notes in school? Did you scribble them down freehand? Later in college, did you use a laptop to record your notes? What about capturing it with a video camera or an audio recorder?

According to some provisions on contracts held between education associations and public schools, electronic recording of classroom procedures are only allowed if the teacher grants permission. In an article about Bay City, Michigan public schools, author Dave Murray learned of a

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“Protection of Teachers” clause in the contract which read as follows:

“To encourage the free exchange between teacher and student, to eliminate the danger of recording
remarks in a classroom out of context, particularly because of the existence of today’s sophisticated recording devices, it is agreed that any record of classroom procedures, whether by mechanical, electronic or other means, shall be made only with the express permission of the teacher who then shall have the right to review and edit any part of the records. Any records made without the knowledge and permission of the teacher shall become the property of the teacher. This policy shall be made known to the student body of the school district and appropriate discipline shall be imposed for violation of this rule.

But why would teachers not want their students to record a lesson? Having a recording of a lesson, be it through video or audio, is a helpful learning tool. You can take notes freehand, but also have the recording set as a backup in case you missed something the teacher said.

Murray’s article continued to talk about the limited approaches some schools have when considering the usage of technology in the class. Some schools prohibit students from using Google. Some confiscate phones outright.

Schools should examine tech usage on a case-by-case basis and enact disciplinary measures if students abuse technology in ways that distracts from learning. The clause above suggests that not all schools are ready to open the floodgates and allow technology through, especially personal devices like smartphones.

But you know, if you’re a student and you want to record a class lecture, all you have to do is ask. I find it very unlikely that a teacher would have a serious problem with being recorded if all they want to do is communicate the material in a helpful way.