At the start of November, University of Glasgow student Georgina Hayes discussed the discriminatory issues around not recording lectures in an article for The Glasgow Guardian. After receiving overwhelming support online for the ideas she put forward, Hayes has launched a petition that will be delivered to the University.
The aims of the petition are to make the recording of all lectures mandatory and stands at 124 signatures at the time of publishing. It is argued by Hayes that students suffering from mental health issues do not miss lectures out of laziness, but out of a medical inability, and therefore should be able to access and catch up on the lectures they were unable to attend.
Others have mentioned cases where students are unfairly disadvantaged – such as international students who may need to go through a lecture again to get a full understanding, or parents who have to find childcare.
However, a range of departments refuse to make lecture recording mandatory as many lecturers believe that the only way to ensure active engagement with their students is for all students to be at the lecture in person. Lecturers may also wish to preserve their intellectual property. Many offer one-to-one meetings with students to help them catch up on the condition that they provide a good cause for missing the lecture.
In an interview with The Glasgow Guardian, Georgina responded to the claim that lecture attendance is the only way to guarantee student engagement and explains her reasoning for starting the petition.
What inspired you to start this petition?
"I was inspired to start the petition after the overwhelmingly positive response to my article making the case for recorded lectures. I figured that I should take it a step further and try to make a positive change if I can. It's not something I'd usually do, but I thought it would be good to use the momentum of the article. It's such an important cause that I think holds relevance to a lot of people, but it isn't often spoken about publicly because there's still such a stigma around mental health. I know that a lot of people suffering with a mental health condition but who can't always make it to classes are just as capable and just as willing to learn, but the odds are set against them by a system that doesn't necessarily cater for them."
How do you hope the University will respond?
"I hope that (if the petition gets enough signatures!) the University will make recording lectures a mandatory department-wide policy. Obviously I understand that practically it may be difficult, but many subjects record their lectures already anyway so I don't see why others can't too. I've even been in some lectures where there's been a filter-through room and a video stream connecting it to the actual lecture, but the subject still doesn't record them! It wouldn't only help students with a mental health problem which was my initial focus, but it would help physically disabled students too as well as all students for revision purposes. At the end of the day, change isn't usually easy or initially practical but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be done to make learning as accessible as possible for everyone."
Do you appreciate the other side of the argument, like lecturers wanting to preserve their intellectual property and increase student interaction?
"I do appreciate the other side of the argument. However, with regard to lecturers wanting to reserve intellectual property, it seems that that is reserved for their work as researchers which they publish, copyright and gain recognition from. The purpose of lecturing, on the other hand, is all about teaching and learning, and the learning process will only be enhanced if it's more accessible. They are intellectuals but also, in choosing to lecture, educators as well. With regard to student interaction, I think that recording lectures will only increase student interaction because it means that more students will be able to access their teaching and respond to it. If being realistic, a lot of students miss lectures for various reasons anyway. Plus, to address both points: quite a few subjects record their lectures already, and I don't think those departments have suffered for it."
The petition can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/university-of-glasgow-make-recording-lectures-mandatory-at-glasgow-university?recruiter=47336087&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_for_starters_page&utm_term=des-md-no_src-no_msg