Lecture Capture and Flipping the Classroom

I have been involved in Derby’s lecture capture project for three years now.  The service is up and running  and although we still have a lot of work left to do, I guess it’s about time that I wrote a blog post about it.

Recorded Lectures have proved popular amongst students and their reasons for using them include: To fill gaps in notes, replace or enhance notes, revision for assessment or exam, to catch up in case of an absence, to review content and concepts and to assist with English as a second language, to name a few.  Lecture Capture systems are relatively simple to use and automate all of the processing and publishing after the lecture has been recorded.  It’s a quick win for lecturers who record their lectures and make them available to their students.  That’s not to say Lecture Capture is without its pitfalls, both technologically and pedagogically.

So far our efforts to introduce this technology in earnest have been well received on both sides of the lectern and there has been a pleasing amount of adoption.  Limited resources have meant that implementation (basically getting the kit working) has been a long and difficult task and it is satisfying to finally be getting more productivity out of the system.  But, it has left little time to drive research and innovation and to answer some of those initial questions about what lecture capture can bring to the learning process.  We did manage to do some student surveys, however and surprisingly (or perhaps unsurprisingly), lecturing staff approached us with innovative ideas that answered questions we didn’t even know needed answering! An example is summarised in Charlie’s MELSIG post, I will save writing in detail about those for another time.

One of those initial ‘burning questions’ was about a technique that has seemingly become known as ‘flipping the classroom’.  This is the practice of pre-recording lectures for students to watch at home, so that the timetabled contact with the lecturer or teacher may be used for Q&A or seminars, supposedly to reinforce deeper learning.  I was approached by a lecturer this week who was interested in this approach and only the following day I came across this article.


It sums up other’s accounts, both researched and anecdotal, of ‘flipping the classroom’ quite nicely and I would encourage you to give it a read.   The author approaches the subject with particular reference to the Khan Academy and with a note of caution: Of course, the practice of flipping the classroom should not be used solely on its own.  But, used objectively within a framework, pragmatically with the right support and deference to the students’ investment of time, it has potential to accelerate an engaged student to deeper levels of learning.

I tend to agree and this brings me nicely onto sharing a worrying, but thankfully infrequent, trend that I noticed during the Lecture Capture pilot.  On a couple of occasions I was approached by lecturers with a proposal that sounds a little like this:  “Basically, I want to record all of my lectures this semester then I’ve got all the content I need for the online version of the module”.  My next question is almost always: “OK, but what else are you planning to do online for your students?”  Thankfully in all cases I have managed to persuade them that on its own this is a bad idea and to consider alternatives.  Even without the growing body of supporting evidence available at the time, I have always felt there was something not quite right about this approach and have consistently cautioned against it.  I’m sure there are other factors at play for wanting to do this, such as workload or apprehension of going outside of a comfort zone by recreating a familiar format online.  But there are also practical issues to consider; if you are betting on being able to cover all bases by recording a one-off event: What if the microphone is broken? What if you are off sick? What if you just plain forget to press the record button?

Nevertheless lecture recordings can be a valuable resource to both on-campus and on-line students, but in most cases should only be planned in as a supplementary content.  Relatively recently, there was even talk of encouraging universities to reconsider how they define attendance in the wake of the Lecture Capture’s rapid adoption.  Perhaps this view still has some validity but it is starting to look increasingly unlikely as a wholesale concept as this technology is approaching maturity.  On the whole though I’m pleased to say that so far Lecture Capture has been used to good effect at UoD and it’s exciting to think that there are still a lot more ways to use it left to explore.  So a final word; to those that are still convinced that recording lectures means students will stop attending, that it can replace lectures and even the lecturers themselves or even that it represents the future of teaching and learning I would say, have a flipping rethink!

9 thoughts on “Lecture Capture and Flipping the Classroom

  1. A interesting post Glenn. It’s good to know that people are adopting the lecture capture system, and are considering all of its benefits. I look forward to your follow up post on innovative ideas. Talking of which…

    One AI genius at Google’s X Labs, Sebastian Thrun, has adopted an effective approach to e-learning. He recommends breaking videos of lectures up into short segments of one to two minutes duration. After each segment the student is then presented with some questions on what they have just watched. (His online AI course attracted tens of thousands of students.)

    It strikes me that this bite-size method of delivery is an excellent way of locking knowledge into the student’s memory, and helping to develop their understanding.

    More on the genius can be found here:

  2. Thanks akbacademic. Some of the students fed back that they would prefer the lecture recordings to be broken down into short sections that focus on one concept or topic. The subjects that these particular students were studying were Technology or Law and I can see how this approach would work for them. It might not work for every subject though!

    The one key decision we made in the lecture capture project was to go with a software system that allows the lecturer to decide when to start, pause and stop a recording as opposed to using hardware that has recording times pre-programmed into a schedule. This flexibility means that it could be very simple for lecturers to create short format recordings, on-the-fly, about key topics in their lecture and potentially negate any need to spend time on editing.

    We are set up very well for any lecturer to take ownership of their recordings and to explore approaches such as Sebatian Thrun’s. So, thank you for putting forward the idea, we need more people to come forward with suggestions and as many to go ahead and try them out with the support of the TEL teams.

  3. I have been using recording lectures for along time ad slowly but surely feel more confident that I can rely on students watching them before sessions and use them even in sessions so that I can make the time we have face-to-face more about practical work.

    The next step for me is very much about incorporating more and more videos into what are interactive books/manuals for modules so that help and support is integrated including videos, photographs, learning activities, questions, glossaries and support.

    Initially this is pdf format using InDesign but as technologies progress especially with InDesign CS6 I hope to use a combination of InDesign and iBook Author, with html interactivity created using other programmes then embedded in to both re-purposing existing flags materials into html5.

    The response from students I have talked to is that captured lectures (Sounds like a beast tamed for the zoo) is become an essential component of their study practice and that they are beginning to expect it. Whether everyone can cope with this expectation is a different matter.

  4. Hi David, good to hear a successful ‘flipped classroom’ account and it would be interesting to find out how this approach is working from both yours and the student’s perspectives.

    It would be good to see the results of your development work as well, although I would stress to any other readers that the whole premise behind a lecture capture system is that much of the processing is automated. So, although the technology may be limited, if you do not have the time or know-how to develop the skills that David has alluded to, it is intuitive enough that you can use it to create and publish reasonable video content.

    No lecturer is required by the University to record any of their lectures. Nevertheless I would always recommend that any lecturer recording their lectures for retrospective viewing should try their best to manage student expectations. One lecturer shared her method of doing this; by having the students make sure she had remembered to start the recorder at the beginning of each session. If handled sensitively I would speculate that this might be a good way to do it. The reasons are, the students are given ownership of responsibility for capturing the lectures and a sense of participation in the lecture. If they genuinely listen to the recordings and find them useful then this is a responsibility they will take seriously. Unsurprisingly the lecturer is a psychologist and of course all of this is yet to be proved but it’s another idea that’s worth putting out there.

    PS in another similar anecdotal example, the lecturer was getting tips and help from the students when things got a little technically challenging for her, so perhaps there’s some legs in this theory.

  5. Some very good points in this post, Glen – especially identifying the trap of lecturers thinking that if they record themselves giving a lecture – then this can be used as online learning on its own (which it cannot).

    I have written 3 posts of the topic of the flipped classroom, which echoes some of your points, and goes into more depth in other areas.


    I am in the process of writting the 2 remaining posts to finish the series off…

  6. Excellent post Glenn, with regards to using Recorded Lectures, we found that it best to have some sort of quality control before the release of materials, not sure what the system you guys are using currently offers with regards to branding and consistency but its something we added to enhance the student experience @ Harper. All videos had to go through a prcoessing team before release. They where then easily transferable to ‘OER’ http://rlo.harper-adams.ac.uk/video.aspx

    All feedback we received was that video lecture is now a general requirement for most/all modules.

  7. Pingback: Event Review: ALT Large Scale Curriculum Redesign 21st May 2012 | The University of Derby Learning Technology Blog

  8. Pingback: When the flipped classroom flops | The University of Derby Learning Technology Blog

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