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Lecture Capture at GSM London – Myth-Busting from the Head of E-Learning

At GSM London, our career-focused courses and our two-year degrees — coupled with our widening participation agenda — mean that we have quite a distinctive character as an institution. 60% of our students are over 22 years old when they join us and many have been in the workplace for a number of years.  Then, of course, we have the remaining 40% who fit the more ‘traditional’ profile of school-leaver age first-time undergrads.

As the Head of E-Learning it’s my job to make sure that we’re connecting with this varied student base using appropriate digital channels, as well as helping our staff implement best practice in technology-enhanced learning.  A recent survey of our students showed that a much higher percentage than we had assumed are immersed in digital technologies, highlighting the importance of engaging with them effectively online.

Lecture capture is just one of the technologies we’ve recently started using to improve the student experience. As relative newcomers to lecture recording, it’s only natural that our academics have questions about how it will impact their day-to-day activities. Some have concerns about capturing their content, so I spend a fair amount of time doing what might be called ‘myth-busting’ around lecture capture. I thought I’d share the top three ‘myths’ that I regularly come across and my responses to each.

#Myth 1: Students will stop coming to my lectures

This is without question the biggest concern amongst academics. After all, no-one wants to lecture to an empty room. However, the idea that students will take any opportunity to skip a physical lecture seems to be largely unfounded. Looking at anecdotal evidence, as well as some of the empirical studies starting to emerge, like that undertaken by Steve Bailey at the University of Kent, lecture capture hasn’t caused a mass exodus from the lecture theatre! There’s also evidence that it can actually have a very positive impact on student results, as shown by some of these surveys and polls. Once you position lecture capture in this way, many fears held by academics start to subside.

#Myth 2: This is just being used to check up on me

It’s really important to dispel the myth that lecture capture’s purpose is to ‘check up’ on academics and somehow catch them out. Regardless of whether lecture capture is in place or not, the quality of an academic’s teaching is being regularly assessed anyway. At some institutions, academics are starting to embrace the opportunity video recordings offer for self-reflection, so that when external assessments happen, lecturers are more prepared. One of the great things about Panopto is that the fine-grain permission levels allow videos to be shared with just a specific group, or not at all, giving greater control over the distribution of content. At GSM London, our module leaders work with academics to decide what content is going to be captured and to whom it will be shared. This collaborative approach helps reassure staff that the technology is being used to help students, not to disadvantage staff in any way.

# Myth 3: You want to film me so you can replace me with a recording

This is a particular concern for sessional academics. But frankly, any institution that would replace human interaction with video would be doing both staff and students a huge disservice. We need to keep in mind why students choose to come to university in the first place. A major reason is that they want to learn from a subject-matter expert and have some form of personal connection with them. Real-world interactions give students a sense of belonging and identity and allow them to build up an affinity with their lecturer and peers. Students don’t tend to like generic video content from their institution as a rule – they want to see the lecture delivered by their professor.

As well as these concerns, I regularly hear from academics who don’t want their lectures filmed in case they stray onto controversial topics. Panopto’s pause feature is great in these instances, but there are of course issues if a theme is continually referred back to during a lecture, making post-production editing much more problematic. There are also still considerable grey areas around the use of copyrighted material during a recorded lecture. There aren’t easy answers to these issues, but I keep an open dialogue going with our staff to find solutions when such challenges arise.

Some staff ask: ‘why would I bother with lecture capture if there are these challenges and grey areas? I’ve been teaching for years without recording my content, why change now?’

My response to this is that we just can’t ignore lecture capture. We are teaching a substantially different type of student now, compared with even 15 years ago. Our students have had a lot more experience with digital media, whether they are millennials who have only ever known a post-internet world or mature students who come to us from workplaces saturated with a variety of technologies. We have to adapt our teaching styles to suit these digitally-savvy students.

The key is to remove as many of the barriers to the adoption of lecture capture as possible. The ability to schedule automatic recordings, for instance, takes the pressure off academics – Adam Read at Marjon has referred to this as the ‘no-clicks’ approach. This is one of the main reasons we chose Panopto – I’ve simply not seen any other lecture capture system that makes it as easy to record lectures. Making lecture recording simple will drive uptake and thereby ensure that we can give our students the experience they need and deserve.

If you want to see how easy we can make lecture capture for your academics, you can sign up for a free trial of Panopto today.