Reflections on Student Views of Lecture Capture

The University of Leicester has been piloting two lecture capture systems (Echo360 and Panopto) since autumn 2013. I have been working on evaluating the systems and the use of lecture capture at our university generally. I thought the wider community might be interested in our preliminary findings on student views particularly, and some reflections.

Running for President on a platform of lecture capture

Running for President on a platform of lecture capture

I share some questions and responses to the online survey given to students:
1. Did you listen to/view at least one of the recorded lectures?

Yes: 81%        No: 19%

Asked why they didn’t view any, students gave answers such as “Didn’t feel it was required because I made notes during all my lectures.” One student said they make their own audio recording so don’t need a recording made by the university, thereby underlining their perceived need for some kind of recording.

2. How many times did you listen to/view the lecture?

Once: 70%         2-5 times: 23%       More than 5 times: 7%

3. Did you attend the lecture?

Yes: 90%            No: 10%

4. If you did not attend, did the fact that you could watch the recording later influence your decision not to attend?

3 students admitted yes it did influence their decision not to attend. It is still very early days in our university’s foray into lecture capture. Will students not attend lectures because they know they are being recorded? The 3 students answering yes on this question represent 4% of students who did the survey. Another interesting note is that one of the participating lecturers commented in an interview (I paraphrase), “I have so many students in my lecture that I actually don’t mind if they don’t attend and just watch the recording.” I would say this lecturer’s view is far from typical, and yet this is not the only time I have heard this point of view.

5. For what reason(s) did you listen to/view the recorded lecture? More than one answer could be chosen.

Exam revision:  27 

To make sure I understood everything: 40

To go over something I did not understand: 46

I did not attend the lecture and wanted to catch up: 9

To catch up details I missed the first time: 1

6. How important is it for the recording to be made available to you quickly after the lecture:

90% answered somewhat or very important. When asked how long after the lecture should the recording be made available, the vast majority answered: within 24 hours.

What strikes me is that these students really value lectures, and they want to go over the materials covered in them again and again. I saw this in my work with lecture capture at Bangor University as well; students like lecture capture because they like lectures. I close with a couple of student comments about lecture capture, which again reinforce how much value students place on the lecture:

“Listening to the same lecture more than once helps to refresh the memory and aid in my better understanding. I could listen again at my own pace.”

“It’s a great review tool. When in lecture taking notes it’s difficult to take everything in; reading the provided text helps, but being able to go back to a lecture for clarification is priceless.”

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist, Institute of Learning Innovation, University of Leicester

on Twitter: @tbirdcymru

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Learning in Virtual Worlds

Since editing with Gilly Salmon the special issue (40, 3, May 2009) of BJET on 3-D multi-user virtual environments such as Second Life (SL), I’ve been reviewing other articles in this field that have been submitted to BJET for publication. Although I can’t reveal the titles because the reviews are confidential to the editor, reviewers and authors, I’d like to reflect briefly on these articles in the light of that special issue.

The range of disciplines being learned in such environments continues to expand, and not always in ways we might expect. The special issue contained examples from computer science (Heriot-Watt University), human resource development (Open University), film and TV production (Birmingham City University), archaeology (Leicester University), and education (The Open University). For all of these the rationale was clear. Building higher order inquiry skills in science through using an environment built in SL seems reasonable enough, too: the avatars of students (and their teachers) can help each other as they learn to solve scientific problems with the aid of simulations. But I wonder whether computer programming lends itself to discussion via text between avatars on an island in SL? Perhaps it’s easier if the programming is of objects actually in SL.

There’s interest in identifying what environments like SL uniquely offer to learners. That’s a tough issue to resolve. John Seeley Brown suggested that immersive experience was an excellent way to learn, and he gave mother-tongue learning as a fine example. But does SL offer a true immersive experience when learners’ and teachers’ avatars meet? It seems to me more like an observed experience, though one in which I am a participant observer, through my avatar.

A comparison of 3-D and 2-D learning environments might provide evidence of the superiority and unique benefits of the former. Nobody has attempted that. Nor has anyone, so far as I know, attempted to show that learners’ performance on scholastic or academic tests is greater after learning in a 3-D multi-user virtual environment like SL than it is after learning in a conventional setting such as a classroom or at university. Controlling variables in such a trial would be difficult, of course. In fact, I can’t visualise a good experimental design for one. In SL, learners don’t simulate what happens conventionally: they have a different experience. The content wouldn’t be identical, would it? The tests would favour one group more than the other, I think. But soon I expect to see articles being submitted that attempt to provide the evidence that politicians (and maybe the general public too) want before they will consider learning in SL to be time and money well spent.

Probably the evidence, when it does appear, will be of benefits reaped in SL by learners (according to them) that they haven’t seen elsewhere. They may vote with their avatars’ feet, flitting away onto SL islands to learn instead of attending lectures or lab sessions. If our undergraduates still qualify in this way, from afar, who are we to gainsay them their SL experience?

David

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