The following FAQ is provided in response to questions and challenges brought to our union concerning issues around remote instruction. These are especially timely should there be a need/requirement to shift courses developed for traditional delivery into remote delivery format in the Fall semester.
- Can the University require that I record my synchronous lectures? If so, several concerns arise: 1) recording might stifle class participation; and 2) recordings might be distributed among non-participants, either absentees from the synchronous lecture or to future non-registered students in ways that violate student privacy.
Response: While some schools at Rutgers routinely allow for filming and audio recording of classroom lectures, most do not. Whatever approved practices apply to classroom lectures in any given school or department apply equally to remote learning delivery. Instructors of courses wherein the syllabus is mandated by the department, the school, or an authorized curriculum committee are obligated to follow whatever specifics it may include in regard to synchronous or asynchronous delivery.
- Is there software to control or prevent student recording of my lectures and discussions, whether synchronous or asynchronous.
Response: There is little that can be done about students’ recording of classroom lectures and even less about recording of remotely presented materials. You can state a prohibition in your syllabus but enforcement is problematic.
- What can I do if my department or school is using a web-based platform that I am unhappy with or doesn’t meet the needs for my course?
Response: You may deliver your course, whether classroom or remote, in whatever format best suits your needs. The University may provide support for one platform over others, or not at all for some platforms, but you are free to use what your professional judgment suggests. The decision to use a remote format—Google Hangout, Zoom, WebEx, Facetime, or any other online tools is the same sort of professional decision-making a professor does when deciding to use tools in a classroom, e.g., chalk or not on a blackboard, a whiteboard or not, assigned student seating or not.
- Does the University have the right to dictate the delivery method of my courses, e.g., that they be synchronous or asynchronous?
Response: If a course has no assigned time slot, then it can only be asynchronous. If it has a specific time slot, then it may be either synchronous or asynchronous, whatever is best in the professional judgment of the faculty member offering the course unless the approved syllabus requires one or the other format.
- How do I best protect the content of courses I have developed and prevent my intellectual property from being used without my permission?
Response: Blocking the unauthorized re-use of course material delivered remotely is technologically far more challenging than in a traditional classroom setting but the protections are the same either way. We encourage instructors to share with the Union their suggestions on overcoming the challenges, e.g. use of blockages of the recording function in Zoom, deletion of content posted on Sakai or Canvas at the end of the semester,
Otherwise, it is important to provide written prohibition notices on the syllabus.
As a reminder, per Rutgers University Policy 50.3.7, “Faculty, teaching assistants, and graduate assistants own copyright to pedagogical materials, including materials in electronic format or posted to a website, that they develop in the regular course of their teaching duties using resources ordinarily available to all or most faculty members….Copyright to works created by a teaching assistant or graduate assistant at the direction of a faculty member or the university typically will be owned by the faculty member or the university.”
- Can you suggest language that might be added to my syllabus, or that I might post in a remotely delivered course, that will help protect the content and structure of my courses from inappropriate use or distribution?
Response: Yes. This language is in use at the Law School and could be adapted by other professors:
These videocasts and podcasts are protected by copyright laws. The copyright ownership of the videocasts and podcasts vests in either the Professor teaching the course, or to Rutgers University to the extent applicable.The copyright owner of the videocasts and podcasts grants you a non-exclusive and limited license only to replay them for your own personal use during the course. Sharing them with others (including other students), reproducing, distributing, or posting any copyright protected part of the videocasts or podcasts elsewhere—including but not limited to any internet site—will be treated as a copyright violation and an offense against the honesty provisions of the Code of Student Conduct.
Individual schools may have specific regulations concerning improper recording or sharing of course materials and these apply fully to all online media; for example,
Furthermore, for Law Students, copyright infringement and violations of the honesty provisions of the Code of Student Conduct are subject to being reported by the Law School to the licensing authorities in any jurisdiction in which you may apply to the bar.
- Should I be concerned that the University’s contract or license with the providers of the technology for remote instruction, e.g., Blackboard, Canvass, might contain provisions that potentially infringe on my academic freedom to determine the content of a course. For example, a prohibition against profanity or use of “pornography.”
Response: This issue came before at least some faculty bodies several years ago and we understand that it has been resolved. Learning Platforms in use at Rutgers either do not include such provisions or do not enforce them in any way.
- What can be done to assure that all registered students have adequate technological support to learn effectively in an online environment for my course?
Response: Syllabi for courses delivered remotely should state clearly the requirements for effective participation, which should assume or expect only reasonable levels of technological skill and power. For example, requiring students to have 2 Gig Internet speed is not reasonable.
The University, not the individual instructor, is responsible for any appropriate remediation of technological deficiencies.This is something best discussed with your dean of students or other administrator charged with administering learning accommodations.
- What are my responsibilities as an instructor for students who lack the necessary technological skill or support. For example, must my lectures be captioned to comply with ADA regulations requiring access to students with hearing impairments? And what about the sight impaired?
Response: Instructors should be ready to provide moderate assistance for students deficient in technological skills, much as they should for students in a classroom setting who need help with traditional learning skills. Compliance with ADA regulations and learning accommodations are handled by the University. Captioning of lectures or other accommodations should be handled by your dean of students or other administrator charged with administering learning accommodations.
- What are the expectations and requirements for instructors in maintaining academic integrity among students?
Response: The same level of academic integrity should be maintained for remote learning as are expected in the classroom.