Video Conferencing

Video Conferencing (VC) is an increasingly used communications tool in schools.

Video Conferencing is an increasingly used and highly effective 'live' means of:

  • collaboration between schools
  • communication between schools and sources of information, expertise and resources such as museums
  • supporting 'issues' projects and 'learning' events

The workplace of today communicates through visual, audio and collaborative tools as well as text and data. Using VC systems is a way into this world and an opportunity for pupils to grow in confidence and develop the skills  they will need. Not so many years ago images like this were often labelled the 'office of tomorrow!' Image published with permission of CISCO UK & Ireland.


Guidance on the use of Video Conferencing by schools including e-safety, data-protection and a 'heads up' on copyright issues should be provided by the VC gateway provider and those offering VC opportunities.

Schools should have their own guidance for their staff.


 Video Conferencing is a sort of 'out-of-school' activity during which, while the children and teachers may stay in the school, their images, actions and speech could be seen and heard 'live' by other people outside the school - though this is usually a closed and trusted group. Parental or carer permissions are, therefore, important. Schools should get the approval of parents/carers BEFORE any videoconferencing takes place. This might be included in the schools' annual ICT Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) or by using a permissions letter written prior to and especially for the event.

 Permissions become even more critical if the VC is being recorded at either end - by the school or the 'provider' (museum, project or whoever). If you have permissions in place ensure that other parties have done likewise.

 Checking permissions through as part of the planning process prior to the VC activity is even more important if the school is being the 'provider' and not just a participtaing 'audience'.



 In terms of copyright things to watch out for in VC activity are the use of:

  • film - say showing clips from a DVDs
  • using recorded, in-copyright music or audio clips
  • maps, diagrams or pages from text books
  • images
  • licensed materials which you may have an 'OK-for-use-in-our-school' licence for, or the school has subscribed to, but which dooesn't cover sharing material with others outside your school or with other schools
  • performances: e.g dramatic reconstructions, demonstrations, etc.

 If you are working with organisations or presentors from 'outside' the school: just because they have agreed to come into school and 'do their thing' doesn't mean they automatically agree for you to record their work and use it elsewhere or at another time. They need to know you are recording their performance, in what format and how the recording is likely to be used afterwards.

Use of third party (other people's) materials

 Unless you have 'permissions' you should only be using 'quotations' or small parts of in-copyright materials.

 In all cases, if you make use of other people's materials then 'sufficient acknowledgement' must be provided - this is a requirement if you are using materials on the basis of 'education exceptions' and 'fair dealing' and also a requirement of the 'moral rights' of creators. It is also, of course, good educational practice - 'cite your sources'.

Recording the VC activity

 If you record the VC activity of the VC istelf for future use in school this increases the need for care on copyright. Recording = copying and storing the result then showing or making available the recordings over the school network or via the VLE.

Making recordings available beyond your school

 If you put the recording onto the WWW or into a collaborative website or share the files with other schools or teachers or the public then this issue becomes even more critical.

  • Have you parental/carer permission?
  • Does 'fair dealing' or the licences the school has, cover the use of any third party materials used?
  • Have you got an 'OK' from any performers or 'not-school' contributors involved?

If you have used in-copyright, film, images, music or other third party materials without due permissions it could be seen as infringing the owners 'copyright' or perhaps breaking the terms and conditons of a licence a school may have for the educational use of in-copyright materials.
Image: VC on the move. Image published with permission of CISCO UK & IRELAND

 Being asked not to use something that an owner believes is their copyright but is integral to your VC recording could of course spoil the whole effort. Pre plan!



 JVCRS is a VC gateway service, used by many schools, museums and galleries, universities and schools and centres in other countries: See the JVCRS guidance  .....