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!