Recording lectures – at first sight interesting and good for the ego, on further thought dangerous and destabilising of the authority of the academic. When I started as a lecturer I went through the same process as most of us, detailed didactic academic pronouncements from the lecturer at the front, through death by PowerPoint with text appearing letter by letter to the sound of the type writer, to the present situation (aspirational if not actually correct!) of a well paced, balanced and interactive delivery. Then, just as I think I’ve got to terms with this teaching stuff there is a Leninist permanent revolution, as along comes recording lectures.
The trouble is that the arguments for recording lectures are strong – students like it – not a surprise really – and in the present climate of fees and enhancing the quality of education it seems like a good idea. But think about it; if I record my lectures students will not get out of bed and come to the lectures, it will be too difficult and I won’t understand the technology, I’ll look stupid and I’ll have to buy a new suit (and get a haircut!), it will change the exciting and interactive way that I lecture… and many more objections that come to me in a cold sweat at three in the morning.
However, as a weary innovator I suppose I’d better give it a try. Lecture capture comes to campus: the first attempt is bit flaky – a camera on a tripod in an inappropriate room, two guys need to come and set it up, I don’t look good on camera, seems a lot of effort for little gain. Unless the lecture is a super, stand alone paradigm changing performance, it doesn’t seem worth it.
Then we get Panopto on the PCs in most lecture theatres. Easy to set up, but the password is a bit long. The camera is small and stuck to the top of the screen. How do I lecture now? Do I stay frozen like a rabbit in the head lights, talking to the front row while the back row text each other about last night’s drinking? Or do I walk around the lecture theatre in my normal way, going in and out of shot? What about the sound quality? How do I deal with the fact that my laser pointer doesn’t show up on the screen? Will they turn up at all now?
Having tried it for a couple of years I can’t now see what all the soul searching was about – it all seems to have worked out for me. The key seems to have been coming to an understanding of how the students perceive it and how they use it. The feedback I have had is almost exclusively positive. Interestingly, students do not see this as a replacement to the live lecture – they still see this as the gold standard: at a research led university a live one-off lecture provides the students with real and unique contact with the academic. The recoding is not a replacement but another one of the varied ways that the process of facilitating learning is diversifying. Student comments support this:
‘It’s impossible to write everything down during the lecture, so I found the online recordings very useful when I was going over lecture notes. ‘
‘Very useful- especially for non English students.’
‘I think the online recordings are really useful, sometimes there’s not enough time to scribble everything down in the lecture so it’s nice to go back and finish off.’
‘The other lectures will be more handy around revision period but the ones I have reviewed are great :)’
So the student comments show a mature understanding of the ways that this new technology can support their learning. It seems to me that the emerging consensus is that, rather than disengaging and distancing them from the lecture, recording actually does the opposite, in providing a safety net. Students are able to relax and engage, be inspired and challenged; the fundamental purpose of a lecture?
*The views and opinions expressed here represent the author’s and not those of institutions or organizations that they may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.