1.4. Intellectual Property & Privacy Considerations

This section discusses a number of common questions about intellectual property, student privacy, and academic freedom that emerge when instructors design hybrid or online courses, or when instructors use class recording technologies as part of a “dual-mode” course. We address broad principles and provide detailed guidance on how to design and teach courses that enhance learning by protecting the privacy of the classroom and ensuring the appropriate use of learning materials and other forms of intellectual property.

The interactions within a course (among students and between instructors and students) create an intellectual community meant to cultivate effective learning. That community is presumptively private; the opportunity to learn without surveillance and discuss without fear of repercussion is essential.  However, the network architecture of the internet is optimized for easy sharing; motivated users can find a way to copy and share what they want to share. All instructors should implement privacy-protective measures in their courses in order to maintain environments which fearless inquiry and effective learning can unfold.

Intellectual Property Considerations

The elements of an individual course and the course as a whole are normally the intellectual property of the creator and not the University. The intellectual property in a course may include the following: identified learning goals; ideas and sequencing; methods and approaches overall and day-to-day; learning materials created by the instructor; assignments, assessments, and projects created by the instructor; other tangible work products created by the instructor to enable students to achieve the learning purpose of the course.  Many courses use intellectual property created by others (e.g. a textbook, online videos) or collaboratively. Some courses use collaboratively developed or departmentally-authored course designs. Instructors may have questions about intellectual property specific to dual-mode teaching, creating learning materials, and the like. A sample statement for your syllabus, on the use of learning materials, is included below.

“Course materials (videos, assignments, problem sets, etc) are for use in this course only. You may not upload them to external sites, share with students outside of this course, or post them for public commentary without my advance permission. Please discuss with me in advance if you have any questions about this policy.”

Privacy Considerations

Your class is an intellectual community created and sustained by and for you and your students. The “classroom” includes the online environment (the Sakai LMS) and any interactions or engagements facilitated by technology. Please take special care to protect the privacy of this community from unintentional harms as well as external interference. In the course of their teaching, instructors enjoy significant academic freedom, as for instance in the choice of materials, instructional methods and approaches, style of expression and the like. Courses are subject to University and College/School approvals as well as accreditation and compliance requirements (e.g. federally mandated contact time per credit hour or discipline-specific requirements).  

Students have substantial rights and expectations of privacy in their interactions with peers and their instructor, including but not limited to the discussion of sensitive subjects in live class meetings and online discussions.Individual interactions with instructors ( in office hours, discussing academic performance) must remain private and are included within students FERPA protections.  Sharing or providing access to class interactions and events increases the possibility that students or instructors will be the target of external harassment, trolling, and other forms of unwelcome exposure. Such harassment is especially likely to be directed at women and People of Color.

Building privacy-protective features into any Notre Dame course regardless of modality will cultivate an open and effective learning environment. 

Privacy-Protective Steps for All Instructors

Instructors should follow the steps below measures to enhance the privacy of the classroom when using learning technologies as part of a course design.

  1. Provide a Clear Privacy Practices Statement on Your Syllabus. Include a written statement on your syllabus that outlines what students can and can’t expect, how they may share information about class discussions, topics, and how they should treat the contributions of other students.
  2. Use University-provided technologies to host course materials  and facilitate asynchronous discussions. Host your course in the Sakai LMS and make sure any video materials are posted within Panopto for maximum control.
  3. Live class recordings should only be made with Zoom and only hosted in Panopto. Zoom recordings will be posted into your Panopto folder automatically. To find out more about setting up and using Panopto, begin here.
  4. Panopto prevents downloading course videos by default, although you can permit downloads by changing settings. Do not permit downloading of live class recordings, except in mitigating circumstances and by request only. 
  5. Encourage remote students participating in a live class via Zoom to use virtual backgrounds and headphones/headsets whenever possible to avoid broadcasting discussions.. Encourage students to review their physical surroundings in advance of live class meetings, to remain on camera during class meetings, and to maintain appropriate levels of engagement during the meeting.
  6. Avoid posting any learning materials you do not want to be shared (syllabi, assignments,, video, files and documents, etc) on public websites or social media platforms.
  7. Follow this advice on secure use of Zoom when used for class meetings, office hours or other online interactions.
  8. Absolutely DO NOT post or share any student-created materials or videos or images portraying students (e.g. screen captures of Zoom meetings) to public websites or on social media platforms for any reason.

Recording Live Classes (including sensitive subjects)

The classroom is a privileged space that should be shielded from external view in order to preserve the strongest possible conditions for intellectual discovery and collaborative learning. Recording and the potential unauthorized sharing of live classroom recordings raises significant privacy concerns. Students and instructors may feel hesitant about recording live discussions, especially when they know recordings will be posted later.  On the other hand, many students value the opportunity to review live class recordings as study aids or in the event of an unplanned absence. Colleges, Schools or Departments may have more specific guidance. 

As a resilience strategy, we encourage all instructors to record live class meetings when pedagogically appropriate. Recorded class meetings provide valuable continuity for students who experience unplanned absences;  class recordings will provide all students with useful study materials for later review. One of the most critical steps instructors can take to enhance privacy in their courses (dual-mode, hybrid, or online) is to develop shared privacy norms with their students-- a understanding of the obligations and responsibilities to peers, their instructor,  and the course community as a whole.  

When instructors provide a clear privacy statement on the syllabus, use learning technologies as intended to mitigate the risk of unplanned disclosure, and develop common behavioral norms as part of the course community, students and instructors should feel confident in the privacy of their in-class discussions of personal, sensitive and controversial topics.

Adding Privacy Statements to a Syllabus A course-specific statement should reflect your overall course design, learning goals and subject matter; it should clearly include the kinds of actions students may and may not take. A written privacy statement is the foundation of privacy-protective behavioral norms within a course community. Sample privacy statement:


Course materials (videos, assignments, problem sets, etc) are for use in this course only. You may not upload them to external sites, share with any person outside of this course, or post them for public commentary without my written permission. 
We are recording class meetings to support remote students and to provide everyone in the class with useful study aids. These recordings will be available for review through Sakai. The University strictly prohibits anyone from duplicating, downloading, or sharing live class recordings with anyone outside of this course, for any reason. 

See a longer sample here, and note these critical elements of a privacy statement:
 

Some critical elements of a privacy statement:

  • how students may use and share learning materials you created for the class (e.g. pre-recorded lectures, case studies, problem sets, etc.), within the University and outside of it;
  • how students may share information about other student perspectives, including on controversial and sensitive topics, especially with those outside of the course. 
  • when and why live class recordings are made and how students may access and use them. 
  • A prohibition on sharing live in-class recordings, student work products (e.g posts on a discussion board, written work) or communications outside the course community, except by permission.
  • Reminders that students and instructors may be exposed to unwelcome attention, external harassment, and other intrusive conduct as a result of even well-intentioned sharing of learning materials; that the intentional sharing of learning materials or private information with external groups or individuals, represents a breach of trust and may be considered a violation of the applicable Honor Code; that the deliberate sharing of private images, communications, learning materials or other depictions of students or instructors for the purpose of inviting external commentary, ridicule, or embarrassment is an especially egregious violation of trust and University policy that will lead to severe sanctions.
  • Reaffirmation that  our classrooms are communities built on trust, and that our learning and teaching relies upon a shared sense of respect, integrity, and common purpose.

The most critical measure to establish a private learning environment within your course is to develop clear standards, communicate those often, use the technology intentionally, and cultivate a course community in which students and their instructors share a commitment to fearless inquiry free from external intrusion.