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Online and Digital Education Policies and Guidelines

Learn about online and digital education (ODE) policies, procedures, and guidelines on classroom visitation, accessibility, copyright, forms, and more.

Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines

Guidance for Camera Use and Recording in Online Synchronous Classes

This has been approved by the ODE Advisory Committee and will proceed to Academic Senate for approval in Spring 2021. This version has been posted with permission of the Academic Senate President.

(Based on the California Community Colleges Office of General Council Legal Opinion: 2020-12: Online Class Cameras-On Requirements)

"While there is no express prohibition against faculty requiring students to attend live online synchronous classes with their cameras on, an indiscriminate cameras-on requirement risks violation of student privacy rights under the California Constitution, and potentially implicates other federal and state privacy and civil rights laws."

Based on the guidance provided by the CCC Chancellor's Office, Office of General Council, the following are recommended for synchronous class meetings:

  • Cameras are presumptively optional for live synchronous online classes.
  • Audio can be required to the extent necessary to meet learning outcomes, but students should be encouraged or required to mute audio when they are not speaking.
  • If both audio and visual student participation is essential:
  • Faculty require cameras to be on, but only to the extent necessary to meet learning outcomes , and with adequate notice to students;
    • Clearly identify the essential nature of video for instruction and consider a student’s privacy or technical objections and create a confidential "opt-out"; mechanism that allows a student to decline video participation;
    • Consider an alternative to video ;participation such as audio participation;
    • Encourage students to set a profile picture in the video conferencing environment;
    • Encourage the use of electronic video backgrounds; and
    • Allow students flexibility to turn off the cameras unless needed.
  • Encourage the use of the video conferencing chat feature for attendance and discussion.

Additional information about photos, video, audio recording under FERPA can be found in the US Department of Education FAQs on Photos and Videos under FERPA.

While this document refers to Zoom, the guidance can be applied to any synchronous video platform, such as Microsoft Teams or WebEx.

If you have questions about how FERPA relates to your specific situation at El Camino College, you can reach out to Dr. Moses Wolfenstein, Distance Education Faculty Coordinator or Lillian Justice, Registrar.

The below FAQs are adapted from Guidance for Recording Class Sessions with TechConnect (Confer) Zoom by Michelle Pacansky-Brock and CVC-OEI, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0, and from Guidance for Synchronous Classes at College of the Canyons.

If you plan to record your synchronous course for use in another section or later term you will need to get written permission from all students in that sections. Here is a sample: Permision to Record.

Camera Use and Recording FAQs

No, you do not need to record Zoom class sessions.

If a recording includes only the instructor, it is not a student record and FERPA does not limit its use. If the recording includes students asking questions, making presentations or leading a class, and it is possible to identify the student, then the portions containing recordings of the student do constitute protected educational records. Educational records can only be used as permitted by FERPA or in a manner allowed by a written consent from the student.

Before you schedule your meetings:

  • Click on My Account
  • In the left column, select Settings
  • Select the Recording tab and choose the following settings:
  • Disable Local Recording. For most instructors, recordings should be kept in the cloud and not downloaded to a local computer
  • If you wish to have a video of the speaker recorded during screensharing, enable Record active speaker with shared screen
  • Disable Record gallery view with shared screen
  • Disable Display participants names in the recording
  • Enable Multiple audio notifications of recorded meeting, which plays an automated message whenever a recording is started, or a participant enters a session that is already being recorded.

When your meeting starts, keep your Zoom view set to Speaker View (as opposed to Gallery View). This ensures that only the person who is speaking appears on the screen, as opposed to recording a grid view of all attendees with webcams enabled.

When you schedule your meeting, you are advised to set Participant Video to Off to allow students to opt into sharing their video.

You should share a screen capture or recording of a student only with that student's consent in order to comply with FERPA. Students should not record you without your permission. Likewise, we encourage you to model informed consent with your students by asking them if and when you can record. In short, we discourage you from making or sharing screenshots of students.

  • No. This is problematic for several reasons.
  • Students might not have a webcam and owning a webcam was not a condition for them to register for your course.
  • Students might not want to show where they are located. If a student is couch surfing or homeless, and you force them to reveal this to class, this might negatively impact their motivation and the way the rest of the class perceives them. (A 2019 survey of California Community College students found that 60% were housing insecure in the previous year, and 19% were homeless in the previous year. And this was before the pandemic!)
  • Students might be living with minors or others who are not able to provide informed consent to being viewed or recorded by others
  • Students might have a disability that they do not wish to display. In fact, they might have chosen a distance education class so that they would not be subject to stares and whispers of other students.
  • Students might have experienced adverse childhood experiences, and being forced to stare at themselves in a camera can be a triggering experience. (The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 60% of US adults had an adverse childhood experience.)

For more on the potential negative impacts of cameras in class, and ideas for alternative ways to engage students, see: Karen Costa, "Cameras Be Damned."

No. Instructors should tell students that they should not share the link to any class sessions, or take screen captures of Zoom sessions. Students that violate this request may be subject to the student code of conduct for disrupting class, especially if you include this in your syllabus. It's more likely that students will respect your instructions in this regard if you model informed consent before recording them or forcing them to turn on their cameras.

Under FERPA, this situation should be treated as if the recordings were being shown to a third-party audience, which requires FERPA compliance through use of consents from identifiable students or by editing out those students from the video.

Possibly. There are a couple of ways to use recordings that show students participating.

  • The instructor may obtain individualized written FERPA consents from the students shown in the recording. This type of consent can be obtained on a case-by-case basis or from all the students at the outset of a class. (See ODE Website for an example)
  • Recordings can be edited to remove portions of the video that show students who have not consented to the use of their voice and/or image (simply blurring a student's image and removing their name is not sufficient, as the student may still be identified).

Overall, plan your live Zoom session as carefully as you plan your face-to-face classes.

  • Record only the parts of your session that show you. Plan to hold specific Q&A periods during the session and when you get to one, click Pause recording.
  • When you are ready to present again, Resume recording.
  • Don't refer to students by name (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.
  • Videos of students giving presentations and student-generated video projects are covered by FERPA and copyright (students own the copyright of their work, just as any other author/creator). Therefore, written permission to use these digital works must be obtained by the student


The course outline of record for some courses requires students to perform certain activities or demonstrate skills in order to meet course objectives. In these cases, instructors should strive to disclose to students what will be required before the start of class. This might occur via the instructor orientation letter, printed comments in the schedule of classes, and/or a department or instructor website.

As suggested above, plan your class session so that you are recording only the parts of class that show you or your instructional material. Also, note that not all live class sessions, e.g., via ConferZoom, need to be captioned. The state Chancellor's Office clarified responsibilities for meeting the needs of students with disabilities in Memorandum ES 20-16. Live class sessions need to be captioned when a student is present who has an Academic Accommodation Plan developed with SRC that identifies captions as an accommodation. Even if there's no student with disabilities, all pre-recorded videos do need to be captioned, in order to make them accessible to all students (aka Section 508 compliance). For questions about accommodations, contact the Special Resource Center (SRC).

Please contact Dr. Moses Wolfenstein, Distance Education Faculty Coordinator.