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Should lectures be recorded as standard practice?

By Simon Deville, Branch Secretary


Within the College, we have traditionally listed a number of “reasonable adjustments” that need to be made for a student with a declared disability, health condition or specific learning difficulty, in line with the old medical model of disability. Aside from the potentially stigmatising aspect of having to demonstrate a disability in order to receive adjustments that ensure they are not disadvantaged, this has created an almost unmanageable system in which many students will have a long list of adjustments. At any one time we have around 1,800 students with a declared condition, constituting one in six of our entire student population. 


Student Services have been working with the Learning and Teaching working Group to try and identify and extend inclusive practice that can reduce the reliance on these adjustments in order to simplify the system of support for students and to place greater emphasis on empowering students to manage their own conditions.


One of the issues that we have looked at is around recording lectures. In nearly all modules there are likely to be some students in who have an adjustment that they can record lectures. Rather than requiring students to demonstrate that they have a disability before being allowed to record lectures, it is far better to adopt a default position that students can record lectures. Better still that lectures are automatically recorded and place on Moodle. 


The School of Law has pioneered this with nearly all lectures being recorded and media services have managed to iron out the technical difficulties they faced recording from lap tops in an external venue so that now the recording is set to run automatically.


There is some, though not extensive, research into the impact of recording lectures which seems to show that most students benefit from this, and that it is used to complement, rather than replace lectures as an aid to notetaking and a revision tool.


Some academic staff have expressed reservations about some of the potential unintended consequences of this. While the College needs to move forward on establishing a more inclusive teaching environment for disabled students, it is important that we do not undermine concerns of teaching staff in the process and we would be keen to try and address any legitimate concerns that academic staff may have.


If you would like Birkbeck UCU to organise a discussion around this, please let us know by emailing