Over the last year at Teesside University, a new lecture capture system branded as ReView has been rolled out to all Lecture Theatres and General Purpose Teaching Rooms. Although referred to as a Lecture Capture system, ReView (powered by Panopto) will allow all lectures and teaching sessions taking place in any of the equipped rooms to be recorded and then accessed by students at a later date: recorded sessions can include seminars, tutorials, laboratory sessions and practice-based sessions as well as the more traditional lectures.

Lecture capture technology has been available for many years, but has often required expensive equipment, such as specialist microphones and cameras, to be installed in rooms. Also, capturing lectures has usually required the time and expertise of dedicated AV staff. Advances in the field of lecture capture software now mean that the lectern PC in a Lecture Theatre can run the lecture capture software alongside performing the usual functions expected of such a machine, such as sending a PowerPoint presentation to a projector. This set up also allows the PC to capture the on-screen display, footage from web cameras and document cameras, audio feed from a microphone, and any other AV feed connected: data from each of these sources is combined into the same video, giving students a capture of all aspects of the lecture.

As with any new developments in technology, particularly when applied to education, there is always a large amount of debate as to whether the benefits of such a system outweigh the negatives. The enhancements to learning and student experience are many and varied, and will be looked at in future posts to the LTE blog, however, as with many major advances in technology, there are some common concerns amongst staff which can hinder adoption of Lecture Capture technologies. We have attempted to address the top four concerns encountered through our initial roll-out and staff training at Teesside University, all of which are shared amongst staff at other HE institutions.

1. Students will stop attending lectures

This is one of the biggest concerns that academic staff raise with us during the lecture capture training sessions which LTE delivers. Having attended lecture capture conferences and through talking to staff from other universities who have rolled out lecture capture, it is clear that this concern is shared across all higher education institutions looking to adopt the technology. Many studies have shown that attendance at lectures remains largely unchanged after the introduction of lecture capture, with some studies actually showing a slight increase in attendance (subsequent blogs will demonstrate how using lecture capture can help increase student engagement in an academic course and how this could account for the increase in attendance). Anecdotal evidence suggests that the students who skip lectures that are recorded are those who would normally not engage with non-recorded lectures, therefore their lack of attendance is not related to lecture capture technologies being used.

2. Lecturers being recorded may be more cautious in their delivery, and may not give 100% percent to their teaching.

This is a very common concern amongst anyone who has not produced many recorded sessions or screencasts. There is a fear that if the delivery is not 100% perfect, that this will make the lecturer appear unprofessional or under prepared and that mistakes will be recorded forever for people to see. In reality, the students who will be reviewing recorded lectures are just expecting to see the same delivery that they have become accustomed to in lectures before the introduction of lecture capture. Correcting yourself, pauses, tripping over the odd word and other things that lecturers may be worried about being captured are the things that keep the recording ‘real’. Academics are real people, delivering in live classrooms in front of many students, and many things can happen which can make the presenter deliver a less than 100% fluent session. Questions can be asked which require some thinking time on behalf of the academic, or which they may not be able to answer. This all helps build more of a rapport with students when compared to producing a seamless, slick ‘news reader’ style delivery which students can find less relatable and, therefore, less engaging.

While there is often an understandable uneasiness when academics begin to record their lectures, our experience (and that of many other HE institutions) has shown us that this soon fades as lecture capture becomes part of the normal routine of delivering a session.

3. Once lectures are captured the lecturers are not needed.

Lecture capture is being rolled out as it has been shown to enhance student learning and engagement. It also has a key number of benefits in terms of increasing accessibility to learning materials. It is, however, not a substitute for face-to-face interaction and does not negate the need for lecturers, whose role is far more involved than simply delivering lectures. The lectures captured are of most benefit to the students who physically attended the lectures: it allows them to review and recap the material covered, and to revisit parts of the lecture which they may have struggled with at the time. The next time the lecture is to be delivered, the content may have been updated or the way it is delivered may have changed, so simply replacing that delivery with a video of the same lecture from a previous cohort will not be sufficient nor entirely beneficial. Some universities have a reuse policy that only grants access to the lecture recordings to the cohort of students that the lecture was initially intended for, so subsequent cohorts will still have their lectures delivered face-to-face as well as being recorded, so that they too can get the maximum benefit. This reinforces the necessity of having lecturers delivering their sessions to each cohort.

4. Lecture capture systems are difficult to use.

Lecture capture systems are designed to be as easy to use as possible. At Teesside University we have spent a great deal of time and effort to customise the lecture capture system in order to automate as much of the process as possible. To record a lecture, you simply need to log in as normal, select your module and what you want to be recorded (screen, microphone, webcam, etc.) then hit record. Once you have finished, the recording is automatically processed by the system, uploaded to your module folder, and all students and staff on that module will have access to view it. Some universities, such as Newcastle University, have automated lecture capture further by automatically scheduling recordings to start and end in accordance with the university timetable: this completely removes the need for any input at all from the lecturer in order to record their lectures.

Interested in learning more about Lecture Capture and ReView? Click here to see upcoming ReView training events.

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