Frequently Asked Questions
What is FERPA?
- FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, was passed by Congress in 1974 to grant specific rights to students. These rights include allowing students to control the privacy of their educational records.
Is a recorded lecture (audio or video) a protected student record?
- If a recording includes students (other than teaching assistants) asking questions, making presentations or leading a class and it is possible to identify a student, then the portions containing recordings of the student constitute protected educational records and FERPA rules apply. If a recording includes only the instructor, it is not a student record and FERPA does not limit its use.
- FERPA rules for recordings apply across the board, regardless of where the recording is gathered or the mode of learning experience.
- Educational records can be used only as permitted by FERPA or in a manner allowed by written consent from the student.
May a recording that includes student participation be posted for other class members to view or listen to?
- Yes. If access is limited to other students in the class, FERPA does not limit or prevent such a recording’s use and does not require obtaining written consent. This allows instructors to create access for students in the class to watch or rewatch past class sessions.
Can an instructor allow individuals outside of a class to access a video of that class that includes student participation?
- Maybe. There are several ways to use recordings that include student participation.
- The instructor may obtain individual FERPA consent from the students in the recording, which allows use of that portion of the recordings. This type of consent can be obtained on a case-by-case basis or from all the students at the outset of a class.
- Note: The Registrar’s Office is working on creating a form specifically for this purpose, which should be available to the campus community soon.
- Recordings can be edited to either omit any student who has not consented to the use of their voice or image or to de-identify the student in the recording (which can include avoiding or removing any mention of the student’s name, blurring the student’s image, altering voice recordings, etc.).
- Recordings can also be planned so that students (such as those asking questions during a class) are not shown in the video or referred to by name (another way to de-identify the student).
What is the easiest way to comply with FERPA if I video-record my class sessions and students will be asking questions, doing presentations or appearing on camera?
- If access is limited to other students in the class, FERPA does not limit or prevent its use and does not require obtaining written consent. This allows instructors to create access for students in the class to watch or rewatch past class sessions.
- If access is not limited to students in the class, plan the recordings accordingly. Make sure not to show students who are asking questions and don’t refer to the students by name. Avoid repeating the student’s name in the recording (de-identifying the students removes the need for a specific consent from each student depicted). If a student happens to appear on camera, their identity can be edited out or written consent can be obtained.
- Because student presentations make it more difficult to de-identify the student, the instructor should obtain a FERPA consent from the student making a presentation. For any video projects, such as student-made films, an instructor should obtain written consent.
Can the instructor share recordings to different class sections?
- Under FERPA, this situation must be treated as if the recordings were being shown to a third-party audience, which requires FERPA compliance through use of consents or de-identification of any students depicted.
What if a student declines to sign a FERPA consent?
- Students cannot be compelled or required to give consent, though the instructor may edit the student out of the recording or de-identify them if the student refuses to consent.
Are photos and videos from student activities, sporting events, and other campus occasions considered student educational records? Is a release required to share images or recordings from these events?
- No. Participation in officially recognized activities and sports is considered directory information at MSU Denver and can be shared without a student’s explicit consent. (Exceptions apply when a student has completed a Non-Disclosure of Directory Information Request form with the Office of the Registrar.)
Can an instructor prohibit individuals within a class from recording a lecture?
- Faculty are permitted to have class policies prohibiting unauthorized recordings. Further, MSU Denver’s Student Code of Conduct prohibits unauthorized or illegal use of electronic or other devices to make an audio or video record of any person. Students violating these policies should be reported to the Dean of Students Office and, as a result, may face account holds, registration holds, and/or student status suspensions.
- Exceptions must be made for students granted by MSU Denver’s Access Center an accessibility accommodation to record classes. To receive accessibility accommodations and services, students must register with the Access Center, and should provide their Accommodation Notification Letter to their instructor.
Are students required to follow FERPA law?
- FERPA law applies only to educational records maintained by the university. While photos or recordings captured by students are not subject to FERPA rules, MSU Denver’s Student Code of Conduct prohibits unauthorized or illegal use of electronic or other devices to make an audio or video record of any person. The storing, sharing, and/or distribution of such records by any means are also prohibited. Students found in violation of the Student Code of Conduct may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including student status suspension.
Whom can I consult for guidance on how to comply with federal law in my use of class-related recordings? Where can I learn more about FERPA at MSU Denver?
- The Office of the Registrar provides more detailed information about FERPA at MSU Denver here.
The information on this page was last updated on: 10 August 2022