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Do college professors allow you to audio record their lectures? Answered

I am on my way to college, and had an idea. Could I record my college professor's lectures so I could review them later?

I already have a little unobtrusive mic set up that I could use for this to record onto my laptop, the issue is whether or not it would be generally allowed. What do all you users know about the validity of this? If it's allowed, it would be one hell of a help, as I both type and write slowly, so notes are a major pain.

Is it the prof's personal choice, or is it illegal, considered cheating, allowed and encouraged, what? I know my mom was allowed to record her prof's lectures in college, but that was a community college, not a large state institution like California State U Chico, which I will be attending.

Note that I don't want to do this sneakily, as getting caught (if it's not allowed) could put me in serious trouble.



Best Answer 5 years ago

Just ask! Professors (and TAs) are humans, too (depsite appearances). Students have been recording lectures for decades; it shouldn't be a problem with anyone.

The best way to do this is to sit in the first or second row, with a small (pocket-sized) recorder resting on the desk. The desk surface will act as a resonator to amplify the sound to the microphone.

If you are taking notes at the same time, make a note of the time when the lecture starts, and again every few minutes (at least three times per page) in the margin. That way, you will be able to correlate the audio with your notes.

Ok, thanks. I will remember that about the timestamping any notes.

I have a little mic I made for my laptop that plugs into the speaker jack. The actual mic is just a little clip on mic sugru'd into a little "dish" made from a piece of a soda bottle. It's only about 2 inches around, and clips onto the corner of my laptop. As far as mini parabolic mics go, it's great. Instructable on the way once I test it for this application.

It's a bad idea; I've seen people do it.
Because, the whole point of listening to a paid-professional is to learn as you go along. Recording it is either pointless if you don't listen to it again, or you waste your time not-learning while you're recording it.
It may be easier than writing everything down on paper, but the result is the same. I.e. you've a pile of tapes to listen-to = a pile of paper to go through.

Pay attention and make notes about what you don't understand or think you may forget. Don't waste time storing information as "hard-copy" unless you need it.


I will take that into consideration. Seeing as how I have no college experience while you and everyone else does, I may very well find it to be correct.

Teachers start cramming information into children by repetition and "stuffing-knowledge", and people learn to collect information from this.

I've seen plenty people pay little or no attention to what an expensive tutor is really trying to teach them (and the tutors get frustrated about it, bring in bags of sweets as incentives etc.). This has been simply because they expect to cram the facts into their brain just before the exam. The people I knew either taped-it, wrote it all down or spent a lot of money photocopying what someone else wrote down. Some lecturers handed out copies of all their slides to stop people writing things down.

As people get older they learn to think more; it's important to stop and listen, and decide what you need to take away on paper as notes, because most of it should stay in your head if it's important.

Best wishes for it anyway


Years ago when I took a computer class, a older student produced a recorder during class and the professor objected to it saying that that violated some copyrights laws. I am not sure about the validity of the professor's claims but I do remember that the text used on class was written by the same professor.

If the professor came up with the material all by himself, then at least in the US he has a right to claim copyright. Also, it is a violation of privicy in the US to record someone without their consent or a warrant. They don't have to give their reasons for not being recorded, if they don't want to be recorded and you don't have a surveillance warrant, you don't record it. :)

Recoding isn't as useful as you might think. It takes an age to find things, you get a lot of stuff you don't need and amass hours or recorded material very quickly.

Far better to develop a fast note taking style, personally, I prefer mind maps as a method of gathering the essentials from a lecture - I then go through the notes after the lecture and reformat them whilst the lecture is fresh in my mind - Research to fill any gaps or look at interesting areas.

This is actually the learning process.


Education is what is left after you have forgotten what you learned!

This means understanding is more important then recalling simple disconnected facts.

Ahah, that's why I was so glad I figured out this little scheme I thought of this morning.

I can run the audio Input through a dictation program on my computer and get the lecture in transcript format.

That will be interesting let us know how you get on.

You could try it out by taking you recorded into say MacDonald and recording a conversation with a friend and see if the program can transcribe it back Ok.

The people I knew who did this (1990's) asked the lecturer if they could record the lecture, and then placed a Dictaphone(R) or equivalent on the lecturer's bench / desk.


Most professors should be okay with it. There are many students with various learning disabilities etc that require such aids. Out of courtesy, you should let them know first.

+1 here

Of all of my professors most were fine with it so long as you let them know. Those that were opposed were very very opposed, and you should definitely ask them first.

I believe it is usually the professor's choice.

As a bit of advice for slow note takers, I suggest for some classes just listening to the professor rather than risk missing something important while scrambling to write every bit down. At the end of class you can usually stay behind a few minutes and write anything you remember while your memory is fresh. Supplement these notes with the book if you need. Of course some profs teach in a way that the book doesn't help a lot. You'll learn to recognize this pretty quickly.

If you're late for class enter in the least obtrusive fashion possible. For example when I'm late I grab a pen and notebook out of my backpack before going in so I don't make extra noise inside and go in the back door if you can. Come to think of it that's pretty good advice for everything except parties.

If a professor says to do something do it. Ok, so no one follows that advice, but we all should.

I'll think of more as soon as I hit submit, but those are bits of advice no one ever thinks to tell you. Oh have some fun too! Too much studying will make you crazy!

Ok, thanks for all the tips!