Lecture capture software has become cemented in the technology stack of nearly every educational institution today. More than 4 in 5 American colleges and universities now use lecture capture technology to some degree.
Yet while learning technologists, instructional designers, and administrators alike have largely embraced video-supported learning in order to enhance the student experience, there remain some educators still skeptical of lecture capture’s benefits. From the perceived potential for decreased attendance to whether or not such technology has a positive impact on student achievement, there have long been debates around the most common objections to lecture capture.
Anecdotes aside, we were curious what the data had to say about the impact of lecture capture. So we went digging. We uncovered 75 studies performed between 2003 and 2019 (all cited at the bottom of this post), and examined the meta-trends in prominent lecture capture research.
Of the 75 lecture capture studies:
- 34 included a review of the impact of lecture capture on attendance,
- 15 included measurement its effect on student achievement, and
- 51 included analysis of how students perceive lecture capture.
So: what has all that research found?
3 Big Trends From Over A Decade Of Lecture Capture Research
1. Lecture capture almost never negatively impacts attendance
Possibly the single most common objection to lecture capture is that if a video of the lecture is available, students won’t have a reason to actually attend class.
According to the data, however, faltering attendance is exceptionally uncommon.
Of the 34 studies that covered this topic, only four found that the availability of recorded lectures led to a decrease in attendance. Of those four, three reported the impact had been “slight” or “marginal”. Only one study reported a substantial negative impact.
The other 88% of available studies that measured attendance found that the availability of lecture capture had “little or no” negative impact. Notably, one of the studies to report this finding was a meta-analysis of 47 other research articles, further suggesting that the availability of recorded lectures is very unlikely to result in reduced attendance.
In short, students continue to see value in attending their courses in person, and with only a few exceptions, will continue to attend in person even when a recording of those courses is available.
2. The availability of recorded lectures is correlated with higher grades
Alongside student and/or faculty demand, many institutions that have adopted lecture capture have done so in order to provide students with a resource that may help improve their performance and achievement. At its most straightforward, the hope is that recording lectures will provide students with a much more detailed means to revisit what was discussed in any particular class session than could ever reasonably be captured in manual notes, and that being able to access that much more detailed resource to clarify questions when studying should help students do better on tests and earn higher grades.
So does it? While it’s important to point out that correlation doesn’t imply causation, the data does indicate that better student outcomes and lecture capture go hand-in-hand.
Of the 15 studies that measured the impact that making lecture recordings available for review had on student achievement:
- 10 found that the availability of lecture capture was correlated with higher grades,
- 4 found no correlation one way or the other, and
- 1 found that the availability of lecture capture negatively affected grades. Interestingly, this same study was the outlier mentioned in the section above that reported a substantial negative impact on attendance.
Of course, there are many reasonable explanations for why student performance is generally improved in classes where lecture capture is available. Faculty matter, and it may well be that faculty that are more likely to utilize available technologies are also more likely to find other creative ways to bolster performance. Dozens of other reasonable explanations no doubt exist as well.
But in so far as the subject has been studied, student performance and the availability of lecture recordings do appear to be positively aligned.
3. Students unanimously agree that lecture recordings are useful
It should be no surprise that students, on average, would report that having recordings of their lectures available for later review is useful to their studies. In general, students will always prefer having more materials and resources available for review than fewer.
But we also know from statistical research that unanimous results are a surprise. In any population there’s virtually always a holdout, a cynic, a critic.
Which is why is it perhaps surprising that of the 51 studies that explicitly addressed whether or not students found lecture recordings to be useful, every single one — all 51 studies — reported that students view lecture recordings to be a valuable resource.
So just how are students using lecture recordings? Actually, in a variety of ways:
- In 28 of the studies that examined how lecture recordings are used, students said they use them as a study aid
- 23 of the studies showed students use recorded lectures to review difficult material, and
- 20 showed them to also be helpful if a student missed a class.
Of course, as the math indicates above, those uses are not mutually exclusive. Students could and did report that recorded lectures served a number of valuable uses in their studies.
With almost every new study, the data only becomes more clear: recording lectures and making them available for students is a valuable service that students appreciate — one that has no detriment to traditional attendance and that may actually help improve student performance.
Ready To Provision More Of Your Classrooms For Lecture Capture?
Dive Into The Lecture Capture Data Yourself
Below you’ll find the complete list of lecture capture studies referenced in this analysis. Links are included where available.