Trimming a Zoom Class Recording

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While having Zoom recording is a fantastic resource for students, enabling those who miss class to re-watch the missed material, it is possible that students may raise tangential or student-specific issues, particularly at the start and end of classes when they may assume that there is no one else in the room. This article explains how to use Zoom’s trim feature to remove this unwanted material from the archive. 

Important Note: This guide is intended to help professionalize your videos by removing tangential or student-specific discussions from being easily viewable. As described below, there are limitations to this approach – technically it just adjusts the start and end playback range, and the full recording may be accessible (e.g., from older browsers or by extracting the url of the video file to access directly). As such, while the trim feature can be useful for removing tangential discussions if a recording includes particularly sensitive/private discussions, we suggest immediately restricting access/removing it from Zoom.

Situations where it may be useful to trim the Zoom recording

You forget that you are recording before your students join

It is easy to forget that the camera is rolling when no students are in the room – as well as testing of the sound/video before the class starts, there is a danger that you end up talking to yourself, talking to others, or leaving the room while forgetting that only dressed professionally from the waist-up. 

You forget to end the call

One danger of Zoom recordings is forgetting to end the call (and to just turn off the monitor). If you come back to your computer the next morning and discover that it is still recording (unless stopped, calls can record for 24-hours), you may have a long stretch of unintended recording, with the danger that you ‘did other things in the room’.

Students discuss tangential information when they assume no-one else is on the call

When it is only you and one or two students on the call, students may assume that their conversation is private, and begin discussing issues without realizing that their conversation may be included in the class recording. This may include mundane or individual specific questions (e.g., how do I download this material) that you may not want included in the shared recording. 

It is thus important to be aware of these limitations, and either pause the recording or alert students that the class is being recorded in situations where they may assume it is private.

Trimming the Zoom class recording

Selecting the video to be trimmed

To access the class recording, first log into zoom, click on meetings, and then the appropriate class recording from under the ‘Previous Meeting’ listing.

Finding the video that you want to trim on Zoom

Next, click on the film icon to enter the desired video

Selecting the video to specify the playback range on a Zoom recording

Setting the playback range for the recording

After loading the desired video, select the trim icon in the bottom right corner

Warning that trimming the video does not impact downloads: Before trimming the video, you will be alerted to the fact that trimming the video will only affect the the video when it is being streamed; if you have allowed the original videos to be downloaded, then the changes from trimming the video will not be reflected in the download (i.e., the downloaded video will still contain the original material).

Confirming the playback range on a Zoom recording

Finally, drag the bar illustrated below to change the start and end points of the video, and then hit the save button.

Limitations to be aware of

While trimming the video is a useful approach to remove tangential discussions at the start or end of the class, there are however limitations that are important to be aware of, and depending on how you share your video, trimming the class is not a substitute for pausing the recording in situations where students may assume that the conversation is private (e.g., when they are the only ones in the room with you).

Technically trimming the video just changes the start and end playback range – the full video will persist, and there are certain conditions (e.g., older web browsers) where the full video is available. If the recording includes particularly sensitive or private information, more immediate steps may be needed to remove the content and verify that it is not accessible to other students (i.e., deleting the recording from Zoom). 

Students access to the video prior to trimming

If the link to the class recording is automatically shared at the end of the recording (e.g., on your learning platform), then students may have access to the recording prior to you being able to remove the material. Although trimming the video may be useful to retrospectively remove unwanted material, students may be able to access it prior to you making the change.

This is one of the inherent dangers associated with automatically sharing recordings that it is important to be aware of. While trimming may allow you to correct the recording, there may be a window where the original recording is available to students. 

Videos exported and hosted on other platforms

Adjustments to the video only work if the video that your students see is hosted by Zoom. For example, changes will be reflected if you are sharing the Zoom recording link with your students, your LMS redirects users to view the video hosted on Zoom, or your LMS embeds the recording from Zoom.

It is possible that your LMS platform may integrate the video in a different manner – if, for example, your platform downloads the recording, and displays the downloaded recording to students, then the adjustments that you have made will not be reflected in what they see.

It is important to thus verify that the intended adjustments are actually reflected in the recording that students have access to. 

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