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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


Statement on Recording of Lectures, Academic Year 2022–23
Department of History and Philosophy of Science

In 2021–22, in-person lectures given in the Department were recorded and made available via Panopto.1 When lectures are given in-person, the pedagogical benefits of attending them are considerable. The blanket recording of lectures brought with it both benefits and costs.

The costs included (but were not limited to) the following:

  • Reduced attendance at lectures from students.
  • Reduction in spontaneity from lecturers aware that they were being recorded.
  • Diminished pedagogical value of the lectures themselves, with fewer students present to contribute to discussion before, during and after lectures, and with reduced informal sharing of course-relevant information between students, and between students and lecturers.
  • Time-management became more burdensome for students who did not follow the rhythm of in-person lectures.
  • Increased evidence of unimaginative examination answers that mirrored lecture presentations rather than showing evidence of independent study, and which in some cases copied the lecturer's own spoken words.

The benefits included (but were not limited to) the following:

  • The ability to review content multiple times.
  • Reduced pressure on note-taking in lectures.
  • Ease of access to lecture content at a time that suits students.
  • Increased engagement with some student learning styles.
  • Facilitation of revision and coursework preparation.

In light of the mixed considerations outlined above, the Department has decided against any blanket expectation either for or against recording, at least for Michaelmas Term. Lectures with substantial elements of group discussion will not usually be recorded, nor will lectures featuring material that may be politically, ethically or otherwise sensitive. The Department will also continue to welcome pedagogically motivated uses of recordings, for example through 'flipped classrooms'. Beyond that, lecturers will be free to choose whether to make recordings of their lectures available. If they do so, those recordings will be covered by standard University policies. We will monitor impacts through Michaelmas Term, consider the views of students, lecturers, directors of studies, and course managers, and allow this to inform our practice in Lent Term. Students can express their views via student reps, and the recording policy will be an item for discussion at the Monitoring Committee in Michaelmas.

Some lecture courses feature two or more lecturers. The University is clear that lecturers cannot be compelled to record their lectures. Even so, the Department encourages a uniform decision either for or against recording for each specific lecture course (but not for each paper), and a clear indication on Moodle and on the 2022–23 timetable on the Department website regarding each lecture course's decision.

Where students hold a Student Support Document recommending a note taker, one will be provided if no recording is made available.

September 2022

1 The General Board's Education Committee (GBEC) has issued a Statement of Expectation for Lecture Recording. The cover letter to that statement explicitly makes provision for departments that may 'choose not to implement the Statement of Expectation for some or all of their courses, pending further exploration of the impact of lecture recording during the year'. This document explains the approach taken by the HPS Department.