Class Recording Policy

Amended by the GW Law Faculty, Sept. 9, 2022

For information on whether or not your classes are automatically recorded, please see this document. For information on how to access recordings, please watch this video.


The George Washington University Law School seeks to provide students with the highest quality legal education and the most favorable teaching and learning environment. When a class is offered in-person, Law School faculty prefer that students attend and participate during in-person instruction. Because that is not always possible, faculty seek to ensure that students may educate themselves outside of class. Some professors, for example, may offer short videos or self-assessment exercises. Class recordings are another tool for helping students learn outside of class. The faculty have developed this Class Recording Policy (CRP) to govern the recording of all or some sessions of particular courses and students’ access to such recordings.

Regular attendance in every class is expected, and students are advised to attend class and to adhere strictly to any course attendance policy faculty members have outlined in course syllabi. Accessing a recording of a class does not negate the terms of the class attendance policy or mean that an absence will be excused, regardless of whether the recording is made available to all students, or only to a particular student, and regardless of whether the recording is preauthorized or based upon prior faculty consent. Class attendance may be excused by other University or Law School policies, for example in the case of religious holidays. 

Many professors allow all of their classes to be recorded and released to all students in the class. However, professors may also restrict access to their recordings globally, or restrict access to a particular class session. For more information on whether or not your classes are automatically recorded, and how to request and access recordings if they are not, please see this document.

I. Creation of Class Recordings

A. Options for Faculty Regarding Creation of Recordings

The Dean of Students Office (DOS) ([email protected]) shall request that each faculty member chooses between the following two options governing the default recording of that faculty member’s classes:

(1) Recording by default. By default, every class session will be automatically recorded. The faculty member may choose not to record one or more individual class sessions, for example, because sensitive content or confidential information is being discussed.

In the absence of notice by a faculty member to the DOS of a different selection, the faculty member will be deemed to have chosen option 1.

(2) No recording by default. By default, no class session will be automatically recorded. A faculty member making this selection must inform the DOS and indicate this in the faculty member’s syllabus. The faculty member may then opt into recording of one or more individual class sessions. When a faculty member chooses this option and the option to allow access to recordings for pre-approved reasons, as described below, confirmation of a pre-approved reason will lead to the recording of the class without the faculty member’s further consent. The DOS also may mandate recording, with notice to the faculty member, in the event that the DOS determines that recording is an advisable way of accommodating a student’s disability.

B. Automated Recording Technology

When a professor selects recording by default, class recordings will occur automatically, controlled by a centralized computer system and equipment installed in each classroom. The automated start and stop times for recordings are based on the published class meeting times and, due to system constraints given current technology, cannot be altered. Therefore, unless new technology is adopted, if a class extends beyond the scheduled start and end times, the resulting recording will not include any instruction or discussion that took place prior to the scheduled start time or in the time following the scheduled end time.

Similarly, if a professor moves to a different classroom at the beginning of or during a scheduled class session, an automated recording will occur in the originally assigned classroom that was vacated. Instructional Technology does not edit in its class recordings any dialogue before official class instruction begins or after-class exchanges, so conversation occurring before or after the formal instructional time period could be audible or viewable to any recipient of a class recording.

Faculty members may request class recordings outside of normal class hours and locations, as well as recordings of non-class events, by contacting the Office of Instructional Technology.

C. Scope of Policy

This policy does not govern the recording of events other than classes, nor does it govern recordings made for a faculty member’s own pedagogical or scholarly use when such recordings are not to be made available to students. This policy does not necessarily apply to GW Law academic programs offered abroad in various locations. Local rules for recording may apply, and each professor may or may not have discretion regarding recording. 

D. Purpose of Recordings

All recordings made for student use are intended to allow for review of classroom presentations and discussions by students who are enrolled in the course. Any other use, whether by students or others, is strictly prohibited without the prior, express permission of the relevant faculty member. Any such use shall be considered a violation of the Law School’s Academic Integrity Policy, and the matter shall be referred to the Committee on Academic Integrity.

E. Student Consent to Record

Students are hereby informed that any class in which they are enrolled may be recorded and that enrollment in the Law School shall constitute their approval for recording. If a student is uncertain about the recording policy governing a class, the student should consult the faculty member for the course or the faculty member’s course syllabus. It is good practice for faculty members to remind students, in their syllabi or otherwise, that any and all classes could be recorded.

F. Exclusive Right to Record

The Law School and its faculty members have the exclusive right to record class sessions.

1. Permission Required for Private Recording

A faculty member may authorize a student to privately record the faculty member’s class (i.e., other than by the Office of Instructional Technology), for example when the student must miss class for a reason deemed valid by that instructor. The Office of Instructional Technology shall not be involved in such recording, its storage, or archiving. Unless a faculty member expressly authorizes recording of his or her classes, private class recordings are not permitted via any device or technology. Students and visitors to the Law School may not independently record, stream, reproduce, publish, or further distribute outside of the course any course content, including assessments, problems, answers, video clips, screenshots, and slides presented during class.

2. Governing Assumptions

Unless the relevant instructor expressly states otherwise, when allowed to make a private recording of a class the student authorized should assume (a) that it is to be an audio recording; (b) that a single recording is to be made and that it is not to be duplicated, transferred or shared with others; (c) that the storage media bearing the recording is to be erased or destroyed by the end of the semester; and (d) that the use of the recording is to be limited to the student for whom the class was recorded and the semester in which the class was taught.

3. Unauthorized recordings

Unauthorized recordings—including any unauthorized personal use recordings students endeavor to make in class with any device—do not fall within the scope of consent established under this CRP. The making or dissemination of such recordings can violate federal, state, or other laws restricting the involuntary recording of conversations. Unauthorized recordings are subject to discipline under Section III. A below.

G. Best Efforts to Produce Good Quality Recordings

The Law School will attempt to capture class sessions in their entirety in good quality video and audio recordings. The Law School, however, is not responsible if there are occasions when equipment malfunctions, sound or image quality of a recording is subpar, or recordings are missed in their entirety. In any such instance, a student should engage in self-help to seek alternative means to secure the information from the class session in question, unless the student receives class recording accommodations under the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, in which case the DOS will provide such assistance.

II. Student Access to Class Recordings

A. Options for Faculty Regarding Access to Recordings

Upon request from the DOS, each faculty member will designate the faculty member’s policy on access to class recordings from among the following three options:

1. Release by default

By default, any recording shall be released to the entire class. A faculty member may opt-out of release to students for one or more individual class sessions, either before or after the class sessions occur.

In the absence of faculty member notice to DOS of a different selection, the faculty member will be deemed to have chosen option 1.

2. Release for pre-approved reasons or upon prior consent

A recording shall be released when the DOS confirms that a student has a pre-approved reason for accessing a recording, as listed below. If a pre-approved reason is confirmed before the start of a class, the class will be scheduled for recording even if the faculty member has specified that no recordings shall be made by default. A recording will also be released when a faculty member designates that a recording be made available to one or more designated students or to the entire class. A faculty member making this selection must inform the DOS and indicate this in the faculty member’s syllabus.

3. Release upon prior consent only

A recording shall be released only when a faculty member designates that a recording be made available to one or more designated students or to the entire class. A faculty member making this selection must inform the DOS and indicate this policy in the faculty member’s syllabus. The DOS may mandate access, with notice to the faculty member, in the event that the DOS determines that recording is an advisable way of accommodating a student’s disability.

B. Pre-Approved Reasons to Release Recordings

When a professor selects option (2) above, the circumstances outlined below shall be deemed sufficient to warrant release of class recordings. Except for pre-approved reasons 2 and 3 below, all categories require submission of supporting documentation for DOS review.

  1. Death in the family or family emergency. The term “family” is to be interpreted to include close family members and others with a close, family-like relationship to the student.
  2. Observance of religious holidays. Religious holidays are determined annually and published by the George Washington University. Recordings will be made available during those holidays, including reasonable travel as may be necessary.
  3. Makeup classes. Class conflicts caused by makeup classes necessitated by the instructor’s absence, or cancellation of classes due to inclement weather or other emergency.
  4. Jury duty or other required court appearance.
  5. Military obligations.
  6. Ongoing medical condition or disability.  When recording is determined by the Office of the Dean of Students to be an advisable means of accommodating a student’s ongoing medical condition, including a mental health condition, or disability.
  7. Medical issue. Any medical emergency, illness, or medical issue that would prevent the student from attending class, as long as the student can provide medical documentation specifying the nature of the issue and the necessity of their absence.  “Medical issue” shall include a medical appointment for the student, the student’s family member, or the student’s partner that cannot be scheduled at another time. Prenatal appointments for the student or the student’s partner are included.  Mental health issues shall be treated in the same manner as physical health issues. "Medical documentation" may include the student's declaration that the student is experiencing tangible symptoms of a contagious disease, virus, or other illness such that class attendance could put other class participants at true risk. In such instances, the student is advised to remain at home, request a class recording, and seek immediate medical advice.
  8. Birth or adoption of a child (for both parents), and pregnancy, delivery, and post-delivery-related medical emergencies.
  9. Extraordinary travel delays well beyond the control of the student due to travel restrictions imposed in the US or abroad, extreme weather conditions, or other verifiable travel impediments.
  10. Participation in, but not preparation for, academic exercises and competitions where the student officially represents the Law School, including any reasonable travel time as might be required.

III. Integrity and Respect for Privacy

A. Notice of Applicability of the GW Law School Academic Integrity Policy

Students are on notice that intentional misrepresentation in the course of requesting a recording or access to a recording, intentional failure to disclose a prior denial of a recording request by a faculty member, any effort to procure a recording in a non-authorized fashion, or use or distribution of a recording in a manner not permitted by the Policy will be considered a violation of the institution’s Academic Integrity Policy and the matter will be referred to the GW Law Committee on Academic Integrity.

B. Respect for Privacy

GW Law and all parties involved in the use or implementation of the CRP should adhere to governing privacy laws and regulations, including but not limited to laws concerning recorded information; student privacy rights in the documentation submitted for a recording or release of a recording as outlined in the Family Educational Right to Privacy Act (FERPA); and all relevant provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

IV. Remote Instruction

The Dean’s Office may announce the need for remote instruction of some or all students in compliance with University guidance and directives on an important matter of health and safety, or in the event of weather conditions or other unexpected emergency preventing use of customarily available classroom space.

A professor may schedule an individual class session of a class that is ordinarily in-person to teach remotely under the following conditions: In general, a faculty member may, without seeking specific permission, schedule a class to be remote for any of the reasons that would count as a pre-approved reason for releasing recordings for a student, for work-related travel, or in the case of adjunct faculty for unforeseen work obligations. A faculty member, however, may not self-schedule a remote class during the first week of a class and may not self-schedule more than 2/13 of the total class time over the semester to be delivered remotely. In extraordinary circumstances, when a faculty member cannot self-schedule a remote class, because the reason for the class to be remote does not fit within the above categories, the class would be in the first week, or more than 2/13 of the course would be remote, the faculty member must request approval from the Dean's Office. Requests for such approval should be sent to the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the case of a full-time faculty member or the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the case of an adjunct faculty member. In no event shall any in-person class be taught remotely for more than 4/13 of the total class hours, absent a change in University policy such as a switch to remote learning as a result of a pandemic.

The following class recording procedures will become effective in an emergency or for approved remote class sessions:

  1. All classes will be recorded, absent compelling circumstances approved by the Dean’s Office.
  2. All students will have access to recordings of all classes in which they are enrolled, absent compelling circumstances approved by the Dean’s Office. If recordings are possessed by individual faculty members instead of in a law school database, then those faculty members must ensure that students may access such recordings.
  3. Recordings that include student participation may not be shared outside of the course in which they were recorded. Recordings that include students in class are “educational records” and should be erased or removed from any server at the end of the semester in which the class was held, absent a compelling need to extend the life of the recording as determined by the Dean’s Office.
  4. Unauthorized student recording of class sessions or dissemination of class recordings is prohibited.
  5. Faculty members may determine, at their discretion, whether to require that students turn on video functions during class time. Regardless of a particular faculty member’s election, all students should be permitted brief periods of time in which they may turn off their cameras to attend to issues in their environment. Those brief periods should not become excessive in any particular class or series of classes. Students should upload a recent photo to their remote access account (Zoom, Google Meet, etc.) when the camera function is off.
  6. Faculty members should test the recording capability before the first remote class to ensure that class recordings will be successful. Faculty members should seek guidance from the Office of Instructional Technology if they encounter class recording difficulties.
  7. Faculty members must use the Law School’s approved web conferencing solution for instructional needs, and only that option, when in remote learning.   

V. Procedures and Interpretations

The DOS may publish and update procedures to implement the CRP, as well as reasonable interpretations of the CRP.

VI. Effective Date and Policy Review

The new Class Recording Policy shall go into effect as soon as is administratively practicable, providing time for faculty to update their recording designations. The Academic Operations Committee shall report back to the faculty on whether it recommends change of any aspect of the Class Recording Policy no later than September 2022.

Protocols for Implementing the GW Law Class Recording Policy

This document is issued pursuant to Part V of the Class Recording Policy (CRP), which authorizes the DOS to issue procedures and interpretations of the CRP.

The Dean of Students Office (DOS) will collect all faculty designations of their policies on class recording and access to recordings, and will post request and access protocols via emails, web page postings or other means.

The Office of Instructional Technology (OIT) manages the software and equipment for recordings and enables the dissemination of recordings to individual students or an entire class according to professor preferences and DOS guidance.

I. Process for Student Requests for Recordings and/or Access to Recordings

A. Pre-approved Reasons

Students requesting access to recordings for pre-approved reasons (set forth in II(B)) in classes for which such access is available should make such requests by email to the DOS ([email protected]), not to faculty members.

  1. Dean of Students Office Review: Prior to approving student access to a recording, the DOS will verify that the student’s situation satisfies one of the pre-approved reasons, considering documentation from the student to support the request where applicable. When the DOS verifies that a student’s request satisfies a pre-approved reason, the DOS has discretion to determine the number of class hours that should be recorded.
  2. Notice to Faculty Members: Whenever the DOS approves a student recording request for a pre-approved reason, it will give email notice to the relevant faculty member(s) prior to the release of an automated class recording. The DOS shall normally inform the instructor(s) of the names of the students requesting class recordings and the reasons for recording, but may withhold this information if there is good cause to do so. When multiple student requests are made for the same class for the same or substantially similar reasons, such as in cases of religious holidays, the DOS will not typically communicate a comprehensive list of all students making that request, unless the faculty member requests such a list.

B. Requests for Prior Consent

Students requesting access to recording for reasons not on the list of pre-approved reasons or in classes in which the faculty member has not permitted recording based on pre-approved reasons should make such requests directly to the relevant faculty member by email. If the faculty member approves, the faculty member shall notify the OIT to arrange for the recording (if not created automatically) and access to the recording.

II. Timing of Student Requests for Recordings

A. Non-Emergencies

All requests for access to class recordings should be submitted at least one business day in advance. This requirement may be waived by the OIT or DOS. Even recording requests made one business day in advance cannot be guaranteed by either the DOS or the Office of Instructional Technology.

In classes that are automatically recorded, students may also request access to recordings after a class session has already concluded when circumstances did not reasonably permit the request for a class recording in advance of the relevant class. All rules governing recordings and release of recordings will apply to any after-the-fact requests.

B. Emergencies

A student or their designate (see Section II.C. below) may contact the DOS via phone call (202-994-8320) or email ([email protected]) in the event of an emergency to request class recordings. The requirement for a request one day in advance is waived during an emergency.  If classes have already concluded before a request is submitted to DOS, and a recording has been made, DOS will assess the request under the rules governing recordings and release of recordings in accordance with the professor(s) policy designation.

C. Eligible Requesters in Addition to the Enrolled Student

In the event that the student seeking a class recording or access to a recording is unable on the student’s own accord to submit a verbal or written request for such, the following individuals may do so on behalf of the student with the express permission of the student in need, subject to the need for supporting documentation where applicable.

  1. Another GW Law student;
  2. A member of the student’s family, significant other; roommate or friend;
  3. Health care provider; or
  4. Emergency response official.

III. Terms of Release of Recordings

  1. Electronic Transmission: Upon DOS and/or faculty approval for a recording to be made or released, OIT will typically send a recording link to the student’s GW Law web portal account, or via other means as may be developed via OIT’s technology.

  2. Length of Posting on Web Portal/Use of Recordings: Recordings will remain on the web portal for student access during the exam period, and for students taking make-up exams, through the 7th week of the semester following the semester in which the recordings are made.

IV. Remote Instruction

  1. Means of Instruction:

Faculty shall use the Zoom app for remote instruction.