Petitioning Sir Alan Langlands, Vice-Chancellor, University of Leeds –– Please halt the lesson capture initiative and engage with us about our concerns

Dear colleagues

A group of staff at the University of Leeds have some serious concerns about the introduction of lesson capture. We have outlined these concerns below in a letter to the Vice Chancellor. If you share our concerns then please add your name to this petition.

Dear Vice Chancellor

A large number of university staff are extremely concerned about the new policy on recording lectures. Our concerns come under a number of headings as listed below.

Technological security
• No one seems to know what security will protect recorded lecture files, and we are aware that no security is 100% secure.
• How seriously would the university take a breach in security of recordings and what action would it take in response to such activity?
• There may be increased problems of plagiarism with students effectively copying from lectures.

Pressure to participate
• A number of colleagues are already perceiving pressure to participate, even if this is not university policy such a perception of coercion is stressful and unacceptable. New, young or temporary staff are likely to feel under particular pressure to conform to the university expectation of opt-in even when they would prefer not to.
• The requirement for colleagues wishing to opt-out to attend a debriefing meeting where we would be ‘encouraged’ to let go of our ‘anxieties’ and ‘persuaded’ to ‘meet the LC policy half-way’’ is in itself coercive. If there is freedom to opt-out staff cannot be asked to justify their choice to opt out. It is not then a free choice.

Intellectual property
• Many colleagues are concerned that this policy effectively makes a significant aspect of lecturer’s work university ‘property’. Recording lectures turns these from occasions for teaching into occasions for generating university owned ‘teaching materials’.
• Many colleagues find this extension of ownership of their work highly problematic, some argue that this increases lecturers’ sense that they are valued only as a ‘product’ by the university.
• Colleagues are unclear about legal responsibility for copyright clearance and where this would be lodged; lack of clarity in this area may affect some colleagues publishing activity.
• The University has refused to indemnify us against legal proceedings taken against us by alleged owners of the copyright of texts, images, sounds or any other data used in our lectures or even to make available advice on what is and what is not legal by a legally trained member of staff; this is despite the highly aggressive legal strategies pursued by some large IP owners.
• There is concern that since the university would own recorded lectures these could be reused even if a lecturer has gone on to another job, potentially making lecturers increasingly redundant.
• Lectures could also be shown if colleagues were on strike or taking other industrial action. The producer of the product would be devalued to the potential profit of the institution.

Pedagogical concerns
• Video capture may be seen as an example of technological regression. If one can only view a film in total one cannot have the same dynamic relationship with learning that one can with a random access storage access device (RASD) like a book where one can be far more selective. This may therefore actually lead to viewers wasting time.
• A lecture may be seen as a live event encouraging esprit de corps; this aspect is totally lacking if students feel they can just go to an online resource. It is inevitable that there will be poorer attendance at lectures if students know they simply view them from their bedrooms at a later date.
• A lecture at its best is an experience of live engagement, this is completely lacking when watching a video. There is considerable concern that we are simply making life easier for students to fulfil formal requirements without taking into account what is actually best for them pedagogically.
• Not all lectures are simply a person talking at students, some include interactive elements which would not work in an online situation.
• There is a danger that there is an assumption that a lecture on the same subject will be identical from year to year. However, many of us do not give a written out lecture but a talk on a subject which will change and develop in line with our own intellectual journey. If lectures are recycled this dynamic will be lost.
• It may be seen by many academics as desirable to be able to edit videoed lecture material to provide a ‘better’ watching experience, however this would be extremely time consuming and for most would be unrealistic.
• Some academics think video lecturing capture perpetuates outdated and increasingly discredited passive learning or ‘banking’ education techniques.

• There is anxiety that this technology may have problematic impacts on workload allocation. Some fear that in the longer term some lecture time may not be fed into workload allocations, and others that they may end up spending a lot of time editing video material to make it more useful online but that work will not be taken into account.

Personal concerns
• A number of colleagues feel extremely uncomfortable about their image being publicly available, and feel they will be unduly constrained if they are worrying about how they appear, sound, etc on video.

Not all these concerns are equally shared by all signing this petition, but in total they attest to the discontent among academic staff with a university scheme involving academic practice that has not emerged from a process of proper intellectual debate and consensus-building. If such debate is not nurtured in a university setting it will have no place in wider UK society which goes against all that we came into the academic world to promote. We therefore urge the University to halt this initiative and to engage its workforce in discussion as a community of intellectual equals.

Yours sincerely,
[current signatories include those below - others will be added as the petition is signed]

Professor Jane Holgate, Professor of Work and Employment Relations
Professor Jane Plastow, Professor of African Theatre & Director
Professor Paul Routledge, Professor in Social and Urban Change
Professor Ray Bush, Chair of African studies and Development Politics
Professor Mark Stuart, Montague Burton Professor of Human Resource Management and Employment Relations
Professor Gary Dymski, Chair in Applied Economics
Professor Jennifer Tomlinson, Professor of Gender and Employment Relations
Professor Chris Forde, Professor of Employment Studies
Professor Nick Wilson, Professor of Finance
Professor John Mowitt, Leadership Chair
Professor Ruth Holliday, Professor of Gender and Culture
Professor David Jackson, Professor of Art History
Professor Jane Taylor Wole Soyinka Chair
Professor Alan Roulstone, Professor
Professor Catherine Karkov, Professor of Art History
Professor Virginie Perotin, Chair in Economics
Professor Regina Lee Blaszczyk, Leadership Chair in the History of Business and Society
Professor Ian Wood, Professor of Early Medieval History
Professor Stephen Alford , Professor of Early Modern British History
Professor Julia Barrow, Professor of Medieval Studies
Professor Michael Hann, Chair of Design Theory
Professor Malcolm Chase, Professor of Social History
Professor John A Chartres, Emeritus Professor of Social & Economic History
Professor Catherine Roach, Leeds--Fulbright Distinguished Chair
Professor Gordon, Crawford Professor of Development Politics
Dr Gabriella Alberti, Lecturer in Work and Employment Relations
Dr Kris Dunn, Lecturer in Comparative Politics
Dr Mette Wiggen, Teaching Fellow in Development and European Politics
Dr Brendon Nicholls, Lecturer
Dr Denis Flannery, Senior Lecturer
Dr Jo Ingold, Lecturer in Human Resource Management and Public Policy
Dr Oliver Fritsch, Academic Research Fellow
Dr Paul Waley, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography
Dr Simon Lewis, Reader in Global Change Science
Dr Martin Zebracki, Lecturer in Critical Human Geography
Dr Kate Hardy, Lecturer in Work and Employment Relations
Dr Steve Carver, Senior Lecturer in Geography
Dr Jörg Wiegratz, Lecturer in Political Economy of Global Development
Dr Ian Greenwood, Lecturer
Dr Louise Waite, Senior Lecturer
Dr Chiara Tornaghi, Teaching fellow in Critical Human Geography
Dr Paul Chatterton Paul Chatterton, Reader in Cities and Social Change
Dr Christiana Gregoriou, Lecturer
Dr Gail Day, Senior Lecturer
Simon lewandowski, Lecturer in Fine Art
Daniel Mourenza, Teaching Assistant in Cultural Studies and Art History
Mr Simon Constantine, Teaching assistant in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies
Dr Helen Graham, Research Fellow
Dr Quentin Outram, Senior Lecturer in Economics
Ms Chrysi Papaioannou, Research Student in Cultural Studies
Dr Gaston Yalonetzky, Lecturer
Mr Nick Cass, Research Associate
Dr Giorgia Aiello, Lecturer
Fiona, Allen Teaching Assistant in History of Art
Joanna Wolfarth, Teaching Assistant in History of Art
Dr Katy Parry, Lecturer
Dr Catherine Ferguson,Lecturer in Fine Art
Dr Maki Fukuoka Lecturer in History of art
Dr Sara Gonzalez, Lecturer in Geography
Dr Tom Burgess, Senior Lecturer
Dr Nicholas Ray, Lecturer in English
Dr Helen Kennedy, Senior Lecturer
Dr Sandy Tubeuf, Senior Lecturer in Health Economics
Dr Paul Castro, Lecturer in Portuguese
Dr Karen Throsby, Lecturer
Dr Elizabeth Watkins, Lecturer in History of Art
Dr Barbara Summers, Senior Lecturer
Dr Kerry Bristol, Senior Lecturer
Dr Ioulia Bessa, Research Fellow in Work and Employment
Mr Zinovijus Ciupijus, Lecturer in HRM/employment relations
Dr Polly Wilding, Lecturer
Dr Hugh Cook, Lecturer in Employment Relations and HRM
Emma Rushton Lecturer in Fine Art
Mr Nick Thurston, Lecturer in Fine Art
Mr Chris Taylor, Senior Lecturer
Dr Richard Checketts , Lecturer in Renaissance Art and Culture
Dr Hugo Christenson, Reader in Physics
Dr Leon Sealey-Huggins, Teaching Assistant
Dr Chris Paterson, Senior Lecturer
Dr Say Burgin, American History Teaching Fellow
Dr Simon Hall Senior, Lecturer in American History
Dr Siobhan Hugh-Jones, Senior Lecturer in Psychology
Dr Mahmood Akhtar, Teaching & Research
Dr Frances Drake, Senior Lecturer in Geography
Dr Paul Bagguley, Reader in Sociology
Dr Valerie Mainz, Senior Lecturer
Dr David Frier Senior Lecturer in Portuguese
Dr Ayona Datta, Senior Lecturer
Dr Anna Fenemore Lecturer in Performance and Cultural Industries
Dr Thea Pitman, Senior Lecturer in Latin American Studies
Dr Luisa Zanchi, Lecturer in Economics
Dr Shona Hunter, Lecturer
Dr James Simpson, Senior Lecturer in Language Education
Dr Andrew Smith, Senior Lecturer in Transport Regulation and Economics
Dr Eva Frojmovic, Lecturer in History of Art
Dr Hendrik Kraetzschmar, Lecturer in Middle East Politics
Dr Fozia Bora, Lecturer in Middle Eastern History and Islamic History
Mr David Lancaster Senior Teaching Fellow, ICS
D Sam Durrant,Senior, Lecturer in English
Dr Aisha Walker, Associate Professor in Technology, Education and Learning
Mr Daniel Wood, Teaching Assistant in Mathematics
Dr Antonio Rodriguez Gil , Teaching Fellow in Economics
Dr Will Jackson, Lecturer
Dr William Flynn, Lecturer in Medieval Latin
Dr Matthew Frank, Associate Professor in International History
Ms Victoria Blake, Officer, Educational Engagement (Widening Participation)
Dr Mark Smith, Lecturer in Modern History
Dr Nir Arielli, Lecturer in International History
Dr Rachel Utley, Lecturer in International History
Dr Kate Dossett, Senior Lecturer in American History
Dr Richard Badger, Senior Lecturer
Dr Nicky Shaw , Senior Lecturer
Dr Hanna Gajewska-De Mattos, Lecturer in Business Development in Emerging Markets
Dr Gary Graham, Lecturer
Dr Jonathan Dean, Lecturer in Politics
Dr Dominic Welburn , Teaching Fellow in Political Theory
Dr Egle Cesnulyte ,Teaching assistant, POLIS
Dr Charlie Dannreuther, lecturer
Dr Kerri Woods, Lecturer in Political Theory
Ms Jean Gardiner, Senior Lecturer in Work and Employment Relations
Dr Adam Tyson, Lecturer
Dr Andrea Major, Associate Professor in British Colonial History
Dr Stephen King, Senior Lecturer in Information Management
Dr Laura King, Research Fellow
Dr Jean Conteh, Senior Lecturer in Language Education
Dr Stuart Hodkinson, Lecturer
Dr Caroline Dyer, Reader in Education in Development
Dr Iona McCleery, Lecturer in Medieval History
Dr Alex Schafran, Lecturer
Mr Jose-Juan Munoz-Lopez, Teaching Fellow
Sue Kilminster Principal Research Fellow, Lead for Research, LIME
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