Lecture Capture

One of the things that I found out when I came to the University of Sussex in February this year is that it provides something that I think is a very good thing for both staff and students – facilities for lecture capture which are in all the main lecture theatres on campus. These facilities allow lecturers to record videos of their own lectures which are then made available for students to view online. This is of course very beneficial for students with special learning requirements, but in the spirit of inclusive teaching I think it’s good that all students can access such material. Some faculty were apparently a little nervous that having recordings of lectures available online would result in falling attendances at lectures, but in fact the evidence indicates precisely the opposite effect. Students find the recorded version adds quite a lot of value to the “live” event by allowing them to clarify things they might not have not noted down clearly.

Anyway, I like this idea a lot and am very keen to do it with my own lectures. It does seem to be the case however that some staff are wary of this innovation. I thought this might be an interesting issue to put to a public poll open to staff, students and interested others either at Sussex or elsewhere to gauge the general feeling about this:

If you don’t like the idea I’d welcome a comment explaining why. I’d also be interested in comments from colleagues in other institutions as to the extent to which lecture capture technology is used elsewhere.

16 Responses to “Lecture Capture”

  1. I’m not a student but I do like this idea. I’ve watched the first three of the Leonard Susskind cosmology lectures that he has done as part of his Theoretical Minimum lecture programme. and I’ve watched some of his others.

    Making this superb teaching widely available is just brilliant and is a huge public service. And the Feynman lectures that are are another huge service to humanity.

    Surely any lecturer who wants to improve their teaching skills would want the opportunity to review their own performance and also learn from their peers?

  2. Manchester University, where I work, has instituted automated lecture capture starting this current semester. Currently academic staff can ‘opt out’ of this. The local UCU are, I believe, not happy with this and would prefer an ‘opt in’ system.

    On balance I’m broadly in favour, though I can see why some people might not want all their jokes and asides committed to record.

  3. Adrian Burd Says:

    Lecture capture is implemented as a matter of course in several coastal universities here in the US. After hurricane Katrina, several universities had to close for extended periods of time and students either put their studies on hold for that time and got jobs, or else went to other universities. Having videos of lectures available online would mean that there’s the possibility of retaining continuity (as well as keeping the students!).

    Having pre-recorded lectures also helps if one is thinking of “flipping” ones course — something that seems to be all the rage on this side of the pond at the moment.

  4. I would be very uncomfortable with this, although I can see the practical reasons why students might want to recap things. I’m struggling to figure out why though. I suspect it’s a combination of (a) hating seeing photos and videos of myself in general, (b) general discomfort at giving the same students who talk to my chest rather than my face the option of putting me on constant replay at home.

    • Our recordings are just audio and whatever was on the screen. The lecturer is not visible. Would that allay your concerns?

      • I would be happier with that…but how does that work if you are writing a lot of stuff on the blackboard? Many of my lectures are chalk and talk, do you black out the lecturer and have disembodied chalk appearing on the board?!

      • Yes, ditto for ours – what is recorded is the Powerpoint presentation (or whatever else is projected, I guess) and the audio track picked up by the mike. No video of me, thankfully.

        Of course, students have for some years been using solid-state dictaphone type gizmos to record lecturers, unless one tells them not to. I can recall giving lectures a few years ago when there would be nearly a couple of dozen such devices arrayed on the lectern in front of me.

      • “Of course, students have for some years been using solid-state dictaphone type gizmos to record lecturers, unless one tells them not to.”

        Just make sure you don’t end like this:


        While I see the value for students who might have missed a lecture or whatever, personally I don’t think this should become the primary means of absorbing a lecture. Otherwise, why have lectures at all? Why not just read books or, if you want a video lecture, absorb lectures by the greatest lecturers in the field? At least for basic topics, these would rarely, if ever, have to be updated.

        For me, the real value of a lecture is the ability to ask questions during the lecture; the lecturer can then modify his lecture on the fly in order to better address the questions and the audience in general.

        Of course, theoretically one could provide real-time feedback from people following the lecture remotely, but only if they follow it in real time.

        The same goes for conferences: I much prefer to be present in person, even if there are detailed proceedings, presentations available on the web etc after the fact. I like the ability to interact with the speaker in real time during his lecture. (Of course, conferences—and to some extent university lectures—also offer the opportunity to interact in a less formal setting, the importance of which should not be underestimated. So, will any readers here be at the Texas Symposium in the week after next, or at the Moriond cosmology meeting next March? 🙂 )

    • telescoper Says:

      Well the answer to (a) is easy: don’t look at the videos. They’re meant for students anyway.

      • The other option might be to try to provide training for your lecturers so that they cut down on the crazy stuff (I’m a big pacer and arm waver) that is so mortifying to watch on replay. We had one very brief session on this during our ‘lecturing skills’ course but it’s hard to break ingrained habits with only one session. On the other hand, I guess we do most of the other stuff that we are expected to do on a professional level without any training…. Do any of the institutions that are doing this or planning on doing it offer any training for their staff in how to do it well, or is this a bit too radical?

      • I think UK universities probably do a lot more with lecture training. I remember having to watch a video of myself lecturing. It was truly excruciating but I think it did cure me of at least some of my bad habits…

  5. I think it is a good idea. We are currently testing it at Imperial. All (physics) undergraduate lectures are recorded, but it is up to the lecturer to make them available to the students. I have done it with my lectures, and it has had no obvious effect on attendance or student behaviour. I can see from the stats that a few students watch each lecture in full online, and a few dozen watch bits of them. It will be interesting to see the stats before the exam.

  6. Many of the lecturers in my department record lectures, including me. The recordings are popular with the students and towards the end of semester they often asked questions about a lecture from weeks ago, because they listened to it again as revision.

  7. We’ve been using the Tegrity lecture-capture system for 5-6 years, especially in the large introductory courses. There was some iniital outlay of reworking things (our hall has two screens from indepedent sources and only one can be captured – had to add some especially important text bits to my image-rich PowerPoint files). I’ve been told that ed research shows that students from poorer academic backgrounds make a lot of use of the recordings, and I can tell that a small fraction of students account for most of the views. Easy enough to do (and files can be set to a podcast audio format or made world-viewable if appropriate) – works on a laptop. I had a summer class with such bad schedule issues once that I had to do a week’s worth of lectures this way, kind of a rescue device.

  8. […] One of the things that I found out when I came to the University of Sussex in February this year is that it provides something that I think is a very good thing for both staff and students – facilities for lecture capture which are in all …  […]

  9. […] this gives me the excuse to refloat an old opinion poll about lecture capture. Such facilities are of course very beneficial for students with special learning requirements, but […]

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