Understanding lecture capture

Yesterday (16 June) I travelled to Queen Mary, University of London, to attend a one-day event called ´Lecture capture – doing it well and at scale´put on by the Association for Learning Technology (ALT).  

As someone who knew virtually nothing about either the technology or pedagogy behind LC, I found the day to be tremendously useful.

In the morning session, Eoin McDonnell and Kris Roger – both senior learning technologists – told us about their experiences of scaling up LC at Queen Mary and LSE respectively, and I heard about some unfamiliar technology such as Echo360.  From an academic perspective, Neil Berry of the Department of Chemistry, University of Liverpool, outlined a HEA-funded LC project that was having a significant impact there.

One of the revelations of the day was provided by Dr Marco Zennaro and Dr Enrique Canessa of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP). The centre had commissioned a bespoke, open source, automated LC system called openEyA. Even taking into account my ignorance of LC, the demonstration seemed to show a very powerful and customisable application. And the fact that EyA (Enhance your Audience) is free and runs on Linux’s Ubuntu OS (itself open source) makes it a very attractive option, at least for a pilot study of LC. A decent HD webcam and a laptop with a good external mic is all that’s needed to capture the lecture. Thus far, ICTP have available over 7,000 lectures to watch.   

The EyA interface showing the video screen, snapshot and zoom windows

The EyA interface showing the video screen, snapshot and zoom windows

In the afternoon session, Juliet Hinrichsen and Amanda Hardy told us about their experiences of setting up LC at Coventry University, and pointed us towards the excellent resources hosted at JISC-funded ELTAC (Support for Lecture Capture) website. These are a must for any HEI thinking of going down the LC road.

The pedagogical justification for LC was provided by John Conway (Imperial College London) and Clive Young (UCL). Admittedly a whistle-stop tour, they nevertheless managed to convey enough in 20 minutes to convince me of the efficacy of video in teaching and learning (of which LC is simply a part). Like me, John and Clive are members of the ViTAL (video in teaching and learning) special interest group.

Intellectual property rights in LC was covered by Graham McElearney in the final session, but I was unable to attend this because of train connections.

It is a reflection of the great service offered by Seb and everyone else at ALT that the need for this event was established by following discussions in the Members List some months ago. In the end, the event was oversubscribed.

I learned many things on the day. For example, lecture capture might refer to audio only, or audio with a screen cast, or a fully videoed lecture hall podium that captures the lecturer, blackboard, PowerPoint slides, etc.

But one thing that came over very clearly from all the presenters was that students love captured lectures – and are demanding more. No one could point to a decline in attendance in lectures. Rather, the students were being highly discerning in choosing which part of a lecture to watch again, and found them particularly useful as revision aids.

Simon Kear

Keeper of the Media Zoo

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