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Tips for Recording Classes in All Learning Spaces

During the period of pandemic teaching and learning online, many instructors chose to record their class sessions for greater student accessibility. Students who were unable to attend class could review class recordings, but even students who attended the class session found these recordings useful for reviewing complex materials and studying for exams. 

Now that classes are again in-person, some instructors have continued to record their class sessions, seeing the benefits of making recordings accessible to their students. At the same time, instructors also recognize potential challenges, like waning attendance or the availability of technologies in learning spaces. The following resource highlights potential benefits and considerations for recording classes. 

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Cite this resource: Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning (2021). Tips for Recording Classes in All Learning Spaces. Columbia University. Retrieved [today’s date] from https://ctl.columbia.edu/resources-and-technology/teaching-with-technology/teaching-online/tips-for-recording-classes/


Despite the return to in-person teaching and learning, students have expressed desire to access lectures and class session recordings following class meetings, whether due to absences or as a way to review complex material. Although there are considerations related to waning attendance or student participation if classes are recorded (discussed below), there are a number of benefits to making recordings available to all students.

Benefits of class recordings 

Class recordings offer a number of benefits. Most notably, they increase accessibility to a course for students who may have been absent due to illness, emergencies, religious observances, or conferences. While certainly not a replacement for attending a synchronous class session, recordings can provide a makeup alternative as unexpected circumstances arise. Additionally, class recordings are a valuable study tool, allowing students to go back and review complex ideas and materials. In this way, they allow students more time to process course concepts, and can help students fill in potential gaps in their own lecture notes. What remains essential for students to reap these benefits, however, is that class recordings are used as supplemental to in-class attendance and participation, as opposed to a replacement (Bannerjee, 2021; Nordmann et al., 2019). 

Considerations for attendance and participation 

When providing a class recording, it is important to have explicit conversations with students about the value and benefits of the recordings as supplemental tools, not as replacements. Relatedly, it’s important to help students understand the value added of attending class in person: What are the unique learning opportunities that will happen in class that are unavailable through the recording? As the instructor, having an intentional and explicit understanding about what is unique to the in-person learning experience, and sharing that with students, is essential. Lastly, take the time to talk with your students about expectations for attendance and engagement. If they will be absent due to illness, and must review the class recording, what are the expectations for their engagement? Consider having supplemental discussion prompts or readings for students to complete alongside viewing a class recording. No matter what is expected, it is important to make those expectations clear to students. 

If you would like to further discuss strategies to address attendance or participation due to the availability of class recordings, set up a consultation with the CTL by emailing CTLFaculty@columbia.edu

Recording in a low-tech learning space

Learning spaces across campus vary, and you may find yourself in a “low-tech” space. The following section offers some considerations for recording class sessions in a low-tech space. 

Instructor Personal Device Recordings 

If your learning space does not have recording capability, consider using Zoom on your personal device to record the class session. You can set up your device on the front podium or table, angled toward you, the instructor. While the recording may not capture the students in the space, this approach will allow for the lecture and potential questions to be captured. It’s important to note, however, that you will want to repeat students’ questions as it can be difficult for a personal device to capture the full classroom audio. Additionally, because you may not capture the full space on a personal device, you will also want to make any additional materials (e.g., slides, handouts) available to students. 

Student or TA Smartphone Recordings 

Instructors at Harvard have turned to their TAs or in-class students to support course recordings: “‘Have a [TA] or fellow student they have identified use a smartphone to make a simple recording that can be uploaded to [CourseWorks], along with any slides or presentations from class’” (Nair & Wang, 2021). As with a personal device recording, it will be important to repeat any in-class questions that may not be fully captured, as well as share any additional course materials. It will also be important to have explicit conversations with whoever is conducting the recording about how the video will be uploaded to CourseWorks, and expectations about removal from the device following upload. 

Collaborative Learning Opportunities 

Depending on the available technology in your classroom, you might also consider offering students alternative learning opportunities. This might include collaborative learning experiences, which allow students to participate asynchronously through a Google Doc or CourseWorks. A recent Teaching column in The Chronicle of Higher Education highlighted one instructor’s success with using collaborative quizzes to engage students and build community (Supiano, 2021). Lastly, having a backchannel forum or discussion board for participation can allow students who are either watching a class recording or engaging with supplemental course texts to engage with their peers and/or the instructor. These learning opportunities are also a great alternative for instructors who are concerned about recording their courses due to either the nature of the topic or students’ willingness to participate when being recorded. For more about creating a backchannel forum, see the CTL’s resource Enhance your Course Discussion Boards for Learning: Three Strategies Using Ed Discussion and CUIT’s guide on Using Ed Discussions. For support with Columbia-supported collaborative learning tools, the CTL has office hours Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. Additionally, you can schedule a 1-1 consultation by emailing CTLFaculty@columbia.edu.

Recording in a HyFlex/Hybrid classroom 

If you are teaching in a HyFlex technology-equipped classroom, you can use the classroom equipment to create class recordings. (Please Note: The following section applies to Registrar-controlled classrooms on the Morningside campus. If you are teaching in a school-specific, HyFlex classroom, please contact your local IT for support with in-class technologies.)  

When recording in a HyFlex/Hybrid classroom, you should begin by  reviewing CUIT’s resource Hybrid Classrooms: Getting Started, which provides an overview of the available technology. Support for these classroom technologies, including individual training, is provided by CUIT; you can request a walkthrough and training of your classroom’s technology by emailing erooms@columbia.edu

Recording through Zoom class sessions in CourseWorks 

At this time, the best way to record your course is through Zoom. To ensure that your class session is automatically transferred and uploaded to Panopto for students to access, instructors will want to create a Zoom session inside their CourseWorks site prior to the class meeting. For information about creating Zoom sessions within your CourseWorks site, see CUIT’s guide on Using Zoom in your Canvas course: Zoom Information. (Please note: you may have previously had your Zoom sessions set up in CourseWorks by members of your school or department. Depending on your school or department, you may now be responsible for setting up Zoom sessions in CourseWorks.) 

Recording on the fly and to the Zoom cloud

If you were unable to set up your Zoom session within CourseWorks ahead of the class meeting, you will need to record to the Zoom cloud. You can then retrieve the recording from the cloud, and upload the recording to Panopto. For information about Zoom Cloud recording, see the CUIT’s guide on Zoom Cloud Recording. Once you have recorded to your Zoom cloud account, it’s important that you download the recording and upload the file to Panopto.

The CTL is here to help!

For assistance with the different Columbia-supported instructional technologies mentioned, attend the CTL’s office hours Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm or email ColumbiaCTL@columbia.edu. To set up a 1-1 consultation to consider different approaches and strategies for supporting attendance and engagement, email CTLFaculty@columbia.edu.

Resources & References

Columbia University Information Technology (CUIT) Resources 

Hybrid Classrooms: Getting Started
Hybrid Classroom Locations
Using Ed Discussions
Using Zoom in your Canvas course: Zoom Information
Zoom Cloud Recording  

Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) Resources 

Audience Response Systems
Collaborative Learning
Collaborative Learning: The Learner’s Perspective
Creating Online Exams
Enhance your Course Discussion Boards for Learning: Three Strategies Using Ed Discussion 


Banerjee, S. (2020). To capture the research landscape of lecture capture in university education. Computers & Education, 160, 1-19.

Ezarik, M. (2021, March 24). Student experiences during COVID and campus reopening concerns. Inside Higher Ed.

Nair, M.S. & Wang, A.Z. (2021, September 16). With return to in-person instruction, courses adapt to accommodate quarantining students. The Harvard Crimson.

Nordmann, E., Calder, C., Bishop, P., Irwin, A., & Comber, D. (2019). Turn up, tune in, don’t drop out: The relationship between lecture attendance, use of lecture recordings, and achievement at different levels of study. Higher Education 77, 1065-84.

Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning. (n.d.). Lecture capture.

Supiano, B. (2021, September 23). Teaching: How quizzes can build community. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

University of Guelph Office of Teaching and Learning. (n.d.). Using a backchannel in in-person synchronous classes.