Is recording lectures becoming the most important ‘must-have’ in Higher Education, or does the practice of lecture capture pose too many technical and pedagogical challenges?

What do users have to say about the problems and benefits of recorded lectures?

As part of my work I help organise user workshops that bring together professionals from Learning Technology and AV to Faculty experts across a wide range of institutions in the UK and Europe.  The best thing about these user days is that they bring together users, would-be users, experts and novices in the field of classroom capture to provide a forum for animated get-togethers that allow participants to delve deep into what are real usability issues. The resulting outcomes of these lively discussions provide helpful insights into the pros and cons of this blended learning solution.

First the advantages: How lecture capture enhances the student Experience

  1. It’s ideal for Distance-Learning students, part-time students and international students – students who can’t be physically present in a teaching room at a given time. By providing the flexibility to watch the recorded lecture from any location, whenever they like, students have much more control over their learning.
  2. All undergraduates and post-graduates with access to recorded lectures like to be able to revisit or catch up on lectures and to navigate easily to search for the content they need. This is particularly useful when they have to miss a session due to illness, timetable clashes and during intense revision periods. Being able to access recorded lectures seamlessly via their VLE makes it particularly convenient.
  3. ‘Increased student perception of support’ is another factor that universities highlighted through discussions with students and in surveys on student perceptions. The majority of students felt that classroom capture added value to courses. This is also applicable to students for whom English is an additional language, for example.
  4. Viewing recorded material provides more opportunities for interaction during class time. Since students can preview course material or information-based tutorials in their own time, topics are illuminated during contact time by means of debates, interaction and more in-depth exploration of themes and better quality debates.

Five Reasons subject staff and institutions should be open to lecture capture

Whilst there is still a fair amount of fear and scepticism surrounding lecture capture, those who use it effectively cite the following advantages as reasons to come on board with it:

  1. The value it adds to courses – more and more students are demanding the flexibility and control that recorded lectures provide over their learning.
  2. Users of cloud-based solutions advocate the simple recording solution because it is simple to set-up and unobtrusive, requiring no technological knowledge “it’s literally as simple as putting the kettle on”.
  3. Integration with VLE – the platform is simple to access and administer via Blackboard, Moodle etc.
  4. Transparency of teaching – the ability to share best practice with colleagues without disturbing your lesson.
  5. Viewer analytics to see what and how often students are watching – thereby helping lecturers to gauge interest in topics and hone and improve their lecture content and delivery.

What are the obstacles standing in the way of Lecture Capture being widely adopted in Higher Education?

The Panopto user days provide the perfect forum for voicing and confronting the recurring fears and apprehensions associated with recording lectures.

These are typically issues surrounding staff perceptions, pedagogic questions, the technology itself and the institutional barriers to the adoption and usage of lecture capture. Recurring concerns include the following:

Staff Confidence and worries about being recorded

Universities need to make it clear what the purpose of recording is and to consider giving lecturers ‘opt-in’ choices.

Some staff say the technology is limiting

However, don’t allow your perceptions to be constrained by the term ‘lecture capture’ – there are lots of ways in which savvy users are recording classroom activities in a dynamic way and examples of innovation with lecture capture will be explored in a the forthcoming Panopto Essentials eBook series. Class room and lecture room case studies will include ways of creating bite-sized tutorials, student assessment feedback, student presentations, recruitment collateral. These will be based on genuine university practice.

Infrastructure issues to meet rising acceptance

Co-ordination between AV, IT and E-Learning requires careful management and it’s a good idea to phase roll-out and not over-subscribe.

Concerns about how difficult it is to coordinate usage of the software and roll out to departments pops up all the time. In general universities that success in instilling a “change in culture” have identified ‘department champions”, people who are of the same species as those who struggle to adopt the practice. Usually this person is pragmatic and understands the issues the “strugglers” are confronting and can offer practical help to overcome the problems.

Round up

No matter who I talk to at these user days, every participant has their experience of their opinion on the value of recording lectures in teaching and learning. The views vary according to profession from technical, faculty, AV, recruitment and IT.  But one thing most people tend to agree on:  students love it! What are the successes or issues you are having with recorded lectures and do you think these will help or hinder the widespread adoption of lecture capture in UK higher education? 

Rachel Doyle, Marketing Manager at Panopto Europe

Published: November 23, 2011