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Digital Learning Resources Policy

Following the radical shift in how we engage with digital content following the coronavirus global pandemic, the opportunities offered to the higher education sector to transform the accessibility and reach of education are significant. Ensuring that the University is well-positioned to embrace digital learning is therefore critical to achieving our strategic education ambitions.

Digital Learning Resources (DLRs) are a fundamental part of our learning experience – on our campuses and online – in supporting engagement anytime and anywhere and according to the needs and preferences of an increasingly diverse student population. These resources often have an enduring value through use in subsequent years and across programmes. Having a Digital Learning Resources Policy (DLRP) that addresses these changes and the challenges that arise (including, but not limited to, the significant time and resources in producing DLRs, intellectual property and commercial considerations) is vital to ensure they are appropriately addressed and managed to support the delivery of our high quality learning experience. 

The DLRP was approved by Senate on 13 March 2024 and replaces the University’s previous ‘Lecture Capture Policy’. The DLRP was jointly developed by a Task and Finish Group, which included representatives from Senate, the Education Board and the Exeter UCU Branch. The policy has evolved from the previously agreed Lecture Capture Policy to build on the lessons learned during the digital transformation brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Policy will be reviewed following its first year of operation (2024/25), and will be considered by the Education and Student Experience Executive Committee and will include members of the Exeter UCU Branch. A joint statement between the University and the Exeter UCU Branch is available here.

The Digital Learning Resources Policy, approved by Senate, is available here. Some supporting Frequently Asked Questions are included below. If you have questions relating to the Policy, you should email educationpolicy@exeter.ac.uk.

In addition, Senate also approved several procedures associated with the implementation of the DLRP as follows:

Frequently Asked Questions:

Live, or synchronous, teaching is face-to-face teaching with students, whether in lectures, seminars or tutorials or delivered synchronously online, which are expected to be repeated next year with the next student cohort. It is recognised that not all teaching is suitable to be recorded (e.g., some discussions on sensitive topics in a seminar) Recording of live teaching complements students’ attendance at, and participation in, the live teaching, providing them with an additional opportunity to engage with the teaching sessions to review and reflect on the specific aspects of the taught curriculum and to contextualise and evaluate learning materials over time. This means that, generally, recordings of live teaching will naturally have a short “shelf life” relevant to the cohort they were intended for. Colleagues delivering the curriculum next year will wish to review and refresh the material before it is delivered to the next cohort. Asynchronous Learning Resources (ALRs) are additional digital learning resources which are specifically designed to be accessed flexibly by students at “any time, any place”. Generally, they will not be linked to a particular cohort. Rather, colleagues are encouraged to develop ALRs which have a wider range of uses across their subject area and which do not have to be recreated and/or re-recorded every year.

Most spaces across the University are equipped with recording facilities and scheduled live lectures will normally automatically be recorded (subject to any agreed opt out arrangements) with a minimum expectation that the audio will be recorded and supported by presentation materials.

Recordings of synchronous teaching provide an opportunity for students to review and reflect on the specific aspects of the taught curriculum, allowing learners to contextualise and evaluate learning materials over time. They are not a substitute for students attending and participating in synchronous teaching and taking their own notes. Rather, they are provided as additional support to the students’ engagement with synchronous learning opportunities. There is a growing expectation from students that they should be able to revisit previous teaching to support their learning and revision.

Recordings of synchronous teaching are particularly useful for students with a range of additional learning needs, those who are neurodiverse, or for students whose first language is not English. Recordings of synchronous teaching enable the University to meet its statutory duty to provide anticipatory reasonable adjustments under equality legislation. Recordings of synchronous teaching which the University can edit and manage access to provide more safeguards regarding the rights and interests of those being recorded than students with special educational needs using their own personal devices to record synchronous teaching.

The expectation is that, where possible, all lectures will be recorded, but it is recognised that not all teaching styles are suitable for recording. Following dialogue with colleagues, Faculties will develop specific guidance on which forms of teaching should be recorded which addresses the learning environment relevant to their disciplines. It is important that information is provided to students on which forms of teaching will be recorded and which will not so that expectations are clear. For example, it may be appropriate to record the introduction to small group teaching and the summing-up/closure section, but not the interactive sections. It is possible to edit recordings after the event to delete sections before they are published to students.

It is recognised that some synchronous teaching may cover politically sensitive information or personal sensitive information – for example in medicine – which are not suitable for recording. Following dialogue with colleagues, Faculties will develop specific guidance on which teaching should be recorded which addresses the learning environment relevant to their disciplines. It is important that information is provided to students on which teaching will be recorded and which will not so that expectations are clear. It is possible to pause live recording, following instructions given in teaching rooms/lecture theatres equipped with recording technology or in relevant delivery platforms (e.g., MS Teams or Zoom), and to edit recordings after the event to delete sections before they are published. Generally, there will be some content of these synchronous teaching events which are suitable for publishing after the session has been given, with some sections having been edited out. There are also arrangements for you to speak to your Head of Department about “opting out” so that some of your synchronous teaching is not automatically recorded.

It is important that students for whom the live teaching event was intended retain access to the recording until they have successfully completed their programme of study. Recognising that the length of degree programmes vary, and that some students have personal circumstances which lead to them being granted a longer period of time to complete their studies, the University has agreed that recordings will be retained for a period of 5 years following the end of the academic year it is captured in. When a member of staff leaves the employment of the University, recordings of their live teaching will remain available for use for until the end of this period. The colleague who is leaving can make a request, in writing, for the recordings of their live teaching to be removed. A request can also be submitted in writing to the Head of Department at any time after the employee has left.  All requests will be managed in accordance with the Digital Learning Resources Policy Exit Procedure.

Asynchronous Learning Resources (ALRs) are additional digital learning resources which are specifically designed on a “create once, use many times” basis, so that they can be accessed flexibly by students at “any time, any place” and have a wider range of uses across the subject area, rather than be tied to a single student cohort. Creating ALRs which complement live teaching, as part of a blended curriculum approach, is becoming an established role of educators. The Intellectual Property Policy (currently under review) of the University (https://www.exeter.ac.uk/business/innovate/accesstoideas/) sets out in legal terms the ownership of copyright and ancillary rights in material created by paid employees of the University. In summary, colleagues who create ALRs license their performers’ rights to the University to use them for a period of 5 years following the end of the academic year in which they are created,  whether during  or after their employment ends. However, staff who are leaving can make a request, in writing, for their asynchronous learning resources to be removed.  A request can also be submitted in writing to the Head of Department at any time after the employee has left. All requests will be managed in accordance with the Digital Learning Resources Policy Exit Procedure (add link). Clearly, the University recognises that most ALRs will have a natural “shelf-life” and that students will expect ALRs to be up-to-date and relevant, so module leaders will regularly review the ALRs made available through the VLE to ensure that they remain educationally relevant.

The University encourages a “create once, use again” approach to Asynchronous Learning Resources, where colleagues can use the ALRs created by others to support other student learning. The Re-use Procedure sets out the steps which should be followed if an educator is proposing to use a digital learning resource created by a colleague. In summary, it is expected that an educator will consult with the creator of the original digital learning resource and respect any limitations they set in respect of the re-use of their personal data or performer’s rights. The Head of Department should also be consulted so that records can be maintained.

Generally speaking the University owns all intellectual property rights in the work that you have generated in the course of your employment or duties assigned to you. This includes, for example, copyright in teaching content and learning resources, including recordings of live teaching sessions, materials created to support independent learning and/or online programmes, and any other digital learning resources. No use can be made of such recordings or teaching content in a new institution or other new job role without separate agreement with the University to use the copyright. This does not affect your personal rights in terms of any performers’ rights that exist in recordings that feature you (video or audio) – for more information see the Intellectual Property Policy and Digital Learning Resources Policy [INSERT LINK]. If there is some specific University owned IP that you wish to take with you/use in a new role, it is best to make this known as early as possible when you are leaving the institution, so that your request can be dealt with as efficiently as possible.

The way in which we deliver education is changing. The digital revolution provides an opportunity for educators to deliver education in a blended way, where asynchronous learning resources complement live/synchronous teaching, and the time which educators spend face-to-face with their students can be enhanced. Exeter is aiming to be a leader in the digital transformation of higher education. We want all our educators, at whatever stage of your career, to be involved in this digital transformation, supporting you to develop new skills and apply these to the benefit of our students. We, in turn, will recognise this in our promotion pathways so colleagues can be assured that their contribution to the development of ALRs and innovative approaches to learning will advance their career.

As part of the University’s Fair Employment For All project, the University has been reviewing its use of fixed term contracts to ensure that they are only used in appropriate circumstances. Where someone is engaged on a fixed term contract in a teaching role, they will be advised by their Head of Department, or designated manager, whether there is an expectation for them to create asynchronous learning resources in that role. In these cases, these duties will be an integral part of the role you are employed to do and appropriate training and support will be provided for you to be able to create high quality ALRs for current and future use. However, the University has made clear that we expect face-to-face, on-campus learning to be our primary mode of education, complemented by asynchronous learning resources, and this is what our students expect.

Recordings of live/synchronous teaching and ALRs are not a substitute for students attending and participating in live teaching, whether in person face-to-face, or solely online, and taking their own notes. Rather they are provided to complement and give additional support to the students’ engagement with live learning opportunities. It is important that these expectations are communicated to students, both at University/Faculty level and by educators themselves so that students are encouraged to use digital resources appropriately, develop their learning skills and continue to engage effectively with their learning. Recording educational material and developing asynchronous learning resources are important parts of the University’s vision to enhance the quality of the student experience and increasingly form part of mainstream academic work to aid learning. Students are advised by the University that they should not copy recordings or excerpts of recordings, or ALRs, and post them on social media in breach of the University’s copyright of the recordings. Where an academic has concerns regarding a students’ use of their ALRs or recordings this should be referred to University Cases. 

If a guest lecturer is paid by the University through eClaims, then they are subject to the Digital Learning Resources Policy and Intellectual Property Policy – this is covered in the terms and conditions for temporary workers. If someone is engaged through a “contract for services” – i.e., on a consultancy arrangement, or a payment is made direct to their employer rather than the individual, then the contract between the University and the third party will set out what conditions apply. It is important that the arrangements are discussed and agreed in advance and set out in the contract. Occasionally, the University does use bespoke contracts for consultant lecturers/guest speakers which cover copyright ownership of both pre-existing and specially created materials, builds in consent to record sessions, explains how and where the recording will be used and stored, confirms ownership of the copyright in the recording will be held by the University and explains editing for data protection purposes. Where the teaching is provided through a global partnership arrangement with one of our global partners – for example an academic at one of our partner institutions is teaching a group of Exeter students, separate arrangements will be agreed in advance between the University and its partner and agreed in writing.