Text of email sent to branch members by branch vice president Chloe Wallace on 23 July 2020
I’m writing in relation to the new Audio-Visual policy which was pushed through Senate on 1st July. The policy was presented to Senate and pushed through without a vote, despite a number of senators expressing reservations about it. This is an undemocratic process used by the University’s most important deliberative body about which we have grave concerns.
As you know, UCU were consulted on this policy but we remain unable to agree it fully. Nevertheless, as a result of that consultation the University made some important changes to the policy which are welcome insofar as they improve the position and rights of staff in relation to recordings. As such, we wanted to draw your attention to elements of the policy which you can use to protect your work, as well as ones which we are keen to monitor.
As far as control of your recordings are concerned, the policy is clear that the person being recorded is to be the content owner of the recording. This means that if your lecture is recorded, you should have control of it on the system and others should not. You can tell if you are the content owner because you should receive an email when a recording has been processed, directing you to the area of Mediasite where you can edit your recording. In most cases this should be straightforward but we know that in some Schools recording remains within the ownership of module leaders or other staff – if that is the case, please speak to your School telling them to remedy this, and let us know if there are problems.
The policy is also clear that your recorded materials should not be used in any context without your consent – please complain instantly in any circumstance where this happens, and let us know. We are disappointed that the University has failed to give us an explicit assurance that recordings will not be used to replace staff, but note that they have said that the University position is that lecture recording is valuable only as an enhancement to face-to-face learning and teaching activities. If you hear of any threat to use recordings once a member of staff has left the institution, please let us know.
The policy states that recorded materials should not be used as part of performance management. Please let us know of any instances where recordings are used to investigate complaints against you.
In principle, recordings held on Mediasite cannot be shared online beyond where it is deployed by you. We recommend that you use Mediasite in order to keep your recordings locked down to students on your module. Allowing students the option to download your recordings is a choice on your part, and we recommend not doing it. However we know that there are illicit methods of downloading material and sharing it. We have asked the university to be clear about what they will do to protect staff if this happens.
We know that the reduced time for editing recordings is a worry for many of you. You can, however, prevent auto-publication within 48 hours if you are the content owner of the material, and we suggest that you do so if you want or need to edit and have concerns about the time pressure. This will only apply once we are back in a situation where we are recording face to face lectures.
We also know that people were worried about the time involved in captioning. The policy now states that staff are not required to edit captions and that if they are not accurate enough they will not be released. We do not expect staff to be held to account for the quality of captions – let us know if you have any concerns in this regard.
The key change in the policy is that you will have to justify any decision on your part not to record and that the decision will rest with the Head of School. We disagree with this position. However, whilst the policy is in place we expect that reasonable justifications on pedagogical, legal and personal grounds, particularly those relating to equality rights, will be accepted and we also expect that staff should not be required to disclose confidential or private information in order to make the case to not record. Please get in touch if you request not to record and it is unreasonably refused.
We finally note that this policy does not cover many issues of concern to staff in terms of moving our teaching online or into hybrid form – we know that some of you, for example, have concerns about the privacy implications of being asked to do video-recordings (as opposed to screen captures) in your homes. We await a response from the University on these points but suggest in the meantime that you discuss your concerns with your line manager/Head of School and contact us if you have any queries.
Vice-President, Leeds University UCU