PiLC 2

I’ve come to the end of the recording phase of the PiLC lecture capture project, and will move next semester into gathering and analysing the research data, most of it coming from the students.

The recordings work out as follows:

  • Chemistry (1st year u/g): 5 lectures @ 1 hour each
  • Media and Communications (Masters module): 6 lectures @ 2 hours each

All lectures were captured with Adobe Connect and simple audio (mp3). In addition, the final session in both were also captured with OpenEYA.

As I said in my earlier post, OpenEYA seemed to have a glitch with the microphone. I kept in touch with the Science Dissemination Team at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics – they developed the software – and we established it was a clash with the latest version of Linux’s Ubuntu (v. 11.10).

They managed to release an updated version of OpenEYA several weeks ago, and I was able to trial it for the last two lectures. It worked brilliantly.

All I used was a very old notebook running Ubuntu, two HD webcams, and a Samson CO3U microphone. Ubuntu was very stable, and the processing of an hour of recording caused no problems.

What I hadn’t realised was that, once OpenEYA has compiled the final zip archive containing all the audio and video files, the whole thing can then be uploaded to Blackboard and unpackaged in the same way as an Adobe Presenter or Captivate archive, as it’s also Flash. And the end result in terms of user experience is excellent.

For me, three things spring to mind at this stage of the project.

First, if I were looking to introduce campus-wide lecture capture from scratch, I would give the Linux/OpenEYA option very serious consideration.

Second, lecture capture is about compromise, as you can’t anticipate differing lecture styles. My colleague in Chemistry doesn’t stay still for more  than a few seconds, so having a camera on him is pointless.

Third, and moving on from this, I feel that complicated capture is probably unnecessary. In most cases, an mp3 recording to accompany the PowerPoint slides uploaded to the VLE will be enough.

However, this final assumption and others will be investigated when we return after the break.

Simon Kear

Senior Learning Technologist

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