The lecture capture debate


At Leicester we are currently trialing two lecture capture systems – Echo360 and Panopto. This has been driven from the students; the student union found that around 85 % of students said that they would welcome lecture capture. Today we had a debate on the topic. The panel consisted of two academics, a student and someone from IT services. Details of the event can be found here, it was recorded so I will post the link when it is available. 

The debate took the form of a panel, each member provided a two minute summary to introduce their perspective and then the session was opened up to the floor.

Alan Cann, from the School of Biological Sciences, opened the debate. Alan has been a long term technology enthusiast and he’s been creating short videos for his students for a number of years, but surprisingly he was against lecture capture. He argued that recordings were likely to distance students, and that they should not be used to replace lectures, but to augment them. He felt that short videos focusing on threshold concepts were more useful. Alan has blogged about this.

Michael Rubin, from the students union, was in favour. He argued that they can help learning and are particularly useful for revision purposes. He argued that they were also useful for: international students, those with learning difficulties and distance learners. He felt that they were particularly beneficial when used as a flipped classroom, i.e. lectures being recorded in advance, freeing up face-to-face time for more meaningful interaction and discussion.

Dylan Williams, from Chemistry, was also in favour; like Alan he has been recording short videos for his students for a number of years and these are then augmented with MCQs. Again he reiterated the benefit of recording lectures and then redesigning the face-to-face session to be more interactive.

Chris Gooch, from IT services, shared his knowledge about how other institutions were using lecture capture. He explained that lecture capture is not necessarily just video, it may be audio or PowerPoint slides. He stressed that one of the benefits was that lecture capture enabled lecturers to identify where students were having problems. He also stated that they were flexible.

There was a good debate afterwards, here is a summary of some of the main points:

  • There may be an issue in recording sessions where sensitive topics are being discussed
  • It may erode elements of good practice
  • The most popular time for viewing videos was during revision and assignment times
  • Video is the third most important element after audio and PowerPoint
  • There is a need for investment in staff development and a significant cultural change if this technology is going to be effective
  • There is a time investment in creating short videos and a level of technical expertise needed
  • Is there an issue that lecture capture will lead to students not attending classes? Evidence from elsewhere suggest that there is some, but not much, most still choose to attend classes
  • Lecture capture may open up the market to disabled students, who may not be able to attend classes
  • Benefits for disabled students and international students of having lectures transcribed
  • There may be issues in terms of surveillance and performance management
  • Who is looking at the data and how is it being used?



6 Responses to “The lecture capture debate”

  1. Mark Smith Says:

    We use lecture capture at my institution, including in the health professions college in which I work as “The Ed Tech Guy.” We use Mediasite by SonicFoundry.

    We record all sessions (that are not exams or exam reviews) of core courses in the degree program (sorry, I’m an American, and I know we use terms like course differently). Recording and publication are automated.

    Issues we have faced include:

    The system is mostly but not perfectly reliable. Sometimes a system glitch causes sessions to not be recorded, or sometimes not published. I am often notified of a gap by students. Obviously you cannot go back in time to make up a recording that didn’t happen. It is far easier when it records but has failed to publish.

    Occasionally privacy issues surface when students ask personal questions of an instructor near the podium and mics — we use ceiling mounted mics instead of battery powered lavalieres, both to save on batteries and ensure that the audio gets recorded. The automated nature of the recording in our system means it stops when it is scheduled to stop; also because it’s automated, students and lecturers are not always conscious of the recording. There is a way to edit recordings, so that non-lecture time can be cut off, ex post facto. However, when sensitive issues come up in discussion, would you WANT to edit that out, or are students more reluctant to speak their minds knowing that what they say — asking or answering a question or engaging in discussion — is recorded?

    There have been some concerns about attendance waning in courses due to lecture capture. It is provided in part so that students who are sick will stay home and can view/hear the lecture, or so that students on legitimate absences can view the course. I believe most students use LC to review material, and that students who are absent for their own reasons would have been absent anyway.

  2. Emma Says:

    We’re also looking at the issues of lecture capture; I’d agree with the points made by others that recording doesn’t generally lead to much of a drop off in attendance, those that don’t intend to come don’t. And they don’t watch the videos either.

    However, the student who suggested they’re useful for ‘flipping’ the classroom - does he have evidence to support how much students actually engaged outside the classroom; I know that when I had a unit that had a lot of pre-recorded material - the students had 1 hour in the classroom rather than the more normal 2; so, just the small groups, not the lectures, few had listened to the material / done the activities - which made the classroom sessions difficult. (we’d put an hour into their timetables as a nominal hour to remind them to do it - but it still didn’t work. They saw the unit as an ‘easy’ one, as they only had 50% of the contact time that others had.

    Also, I’d agree with Alan, in that to make a Good video, you need a lot more than the time it lasts for, so you have to have them on subjects that merit keeping. I was using one the other day that is about 12 minutes long, took 2 days to create & is about 8 years old now. But, as it’s on Reflective Writing, hasn’t aged.

  3. Gráinne Says:

    Thanks for the comments Mark very helpful

  4. Gráinne Says:

    yes good points Emma, still a lot of issues to resolve. I am hoping the evaluation of the two systems we are looking at will help.

  5. Marcus McDonald Says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with the above comments. It doesn’t bother me if student choose to attend or not, it does bother me if they also don’t listen to the vodcast… Though it’s their time not mine. I think that a face to face lecture is VASTLY different to dedicated online vodcast though. I have become quite resentful of what seems to be a refusal to accept that we can’t just use one as the other. Workload is allocated to the bespoke vodcast as it would be a lecture and then claimed that “it will save workload next time”. That MAY be true but it takes a hell of a lot longer to produce in the first place. Lectures are also dynamic in many respects with a core of stability perhaps. I love that the students can choose when they listen and how often, but lecture capture HAS to be differentiated from video tutorials… Oh also the idea of any academic being able to desktop capture fills me with lofi dred. Not to mention knocks on the door, echo and ambient noise.

  6. Mark Says:

    I worked on a lecture capture project from 99 to 01 - DIVERSE. Headed by the Bolton Institute (it’s a university now). We faced the issue of the fears of lecturers that once their course was recorded they could be dispensed with. The project manager came up with a response that’s always stuck with me. “If you can be replaced by a video, then you should be.” The point being that if the only thing you do in a lecture is exactly the same thing that you do every year, rather than tailoring it, revising, responding to students’ questions and so on, then you’re pretty much a waste of space. And students still will want a real life lecturer, which is why attendance rarely falls off. That’s where the real pedagogy is, the lecture capture can only ever be a one-step remove from the actual teaching.

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