Building the Evidence Base for Lecture Capture

Loughborough University hosted their second mini-conference on Lecture Capture on 17 December 2014. The focus: to draw upon, create and discuss the value of evidence in favour of, or against, the use of lecture capture in higher education.

In this post, I draw upon three perspectives that were expressed through the presentations of the day to unpick some of the debates around lecture capture.

Staff perspectives

For those of you who are sceptical of the value of lecture capture, you are not alone. Whilst I might evangelise on its benefits, I do so from a critical perspective myself. That said, often scepticism comes when the technology remains an unknown.

Dr Janette Matthews (Loughborough University) presented strong evidence that staff who are using lecture capture systems on a regular basis see the benefits to learning and teaching significantly more than colleagues who have not tried lecture capture at all. Further, the concerns many staff express around lecture capture as a learning and teaching intervention subside over subsequent use. However, there were still concerns amongst users of lecture capture over the affect on attendance, a perception from teaching staff that expresses itself more strongly than is evident in the research literature (Leadbeater et al. 2013; Ford et al. 2012; Bollmeier et al. 2010), and the risk of redistribution of content, even though students already bring in their own devices to record lectures. These issues appear consistent with our 2013 Replay Staff Survey findings, and are addressed through our guidance documentation [PDF].

The discussion that followed indicated the potential for lecture captures to be used by staff to assist their own professional development. At York we don’t have video capture as is installed at Loughborough, but staff could still use their own recordings to review their lecture structure and approach. Significantly, using the ‘heat map’ tool identifies where students are focusing their re-watching of a lecture and this could indicate a particularly complex idea that may be worth looking at its delivery. Within the room, there seemed to be a lot of interest in this area and is something I hope to keep abreast of, as frameworks to help self-evaluation may be of interest to York colleagues.

The exploration of staff perspectives highlighted that lecturers realise the commonly cited benefits of lecture capture, such as provision for students who were not able to attend because of legitimate reasons, inclusivity of learning and facilitation of revision activities. They are also conscious of student demand, something we touched upon in our presentation and well versed by Amy Ward (Loughborough Students’ Union), that acts as a driving force for adoption.

Student perspectives

Dr Jill Fresen (University of Oxford) offered a somewhat pointed, if not unsurprising, statistic that 99% of students want lecture capture to be provided to support their revision. This is from a survey of students who had not had access to lecture capture before. Similar perspectives emerged from Loughborough Students’ Union, and indeed our own student surveys. There is clear demand that is suggestive also that students do not want their institution to be left behind in comparison to others with large scale lecture capture services (Fresen; Ward).

There are, however, substantial questions about student demand itself not coming from an informed position. This could lead to mixed expectations about what lecture capture can offer as the answer to attendance, language and revision woes. Our own statistics show overwhelming support for lecture capture provision, but there is still a proportion who note that it is not the solution for all types of lectures or teaching sessions. In our case, we don’t have the facility to capture whiteboards/chalkboards, and although students in subjects such as Physics and Mathematics have commented they would like it, until we can offer  such forms of capture it would hold restricted value to them.

As discussed in a number of presentations, in particular Dr Karl Nightingale (University of Birmingham Medical School) who explored the usage patterns and attainment differences of dyslexic students with and without lecture capture provision, there are benefits to particular groups of students where the flexibility to replay the lecture and control the pace of delivery offer better opportunities for understanding (Cooke et al. 2012; Copely 2007).

Learning perspectives

However, attainment may not be the best criteria to help champion lecture capture. Jim Turner (Liverpool John Moore University) found similar results to Owston et al. (2011) in that lecture capture usage varies across the student achievement spectrum. Turner’s findings were particularly interesting, suggesting that high achievers were more likely to engage with lecture capture in a targeted way to address specific learning gaps, and lower achievers use lecture capture as a way of watching back the entire session. This emphasises the need to explore not simply the potential (and arguable) relationships between lecture capture use and attainment, but its affect on study practice overall.

Dr Lara Stocchi (Loughborough University) downplayed the importance of lecture capture for her students, citing how her findings show lecture capture is less used and less valuable to students in comparison to other learning resources. Yet, perhaps this is not unexpected. Our initial findings suggest that students don’t reach for lecture recordings first, but use them as an integrated part of their study approach. It could also be argued that across a cohort of students, there will be those who find greater value in being able to recap particular parts of the lecture, but that will obviously not be the case for all students.

Taking a holistic view of the different presentations of the day, the learning value of lecture captures appear to depend on disciplines. As Dr Clive Young (University College London) expressed, lecturing in subjects like mathematics is an art form. This concept is not new, Pritchard (2010) discusses how the act of seeing a mathematical formula composed and narrated on a blackboard provides an insight into the understanding of the lecturer, and by consequence assists the understanding of the underlying mathematical knowledge. Lectures in different disciplines offer different learning experiences, and as such the learning value, role and usage of different forms of lecture capture in different subject areas may also vary. For some subjects, the targeted viewing by students for a review of particular terminology may be very different from the linear, longer viewing approaches where a whole concept is built from scratch.

As such, I would argue it is more important to contextualise the use of lecture recordings by students within their own subject context, exploring the expectations of their degree programme and their own preferred study approaches, rather than aggregate measures of performance or viewing logs.

Going forward, Turner offered a useful angle for further development, looking at the criticisms of lecture capture as a prompt for positive change. For instance, developing staff who may be reticent of lecture capture, to staff who are confident, informed and motivated to use video/audio resources to support learning; moving from students who run the risk of dependency on captures and fall into surface learning approaches, to students who draw upon multiple resources and have developed study skills to negotiate the value of lectures against their own critical reasoning. Hopefully the insights we gather from our own research project and those of others at this event will help us empower both students and staff to use lecture captures for new pedagogical approaches and importantly, from an informed position.

More on this event

Twitter captured a lot of the key points, simply view the posts with #LCEvidenceBase to get a sense of the discussion.

There is also a JISCmail list for lecture capture and we would encourage further discussion and debate there: lecture-capture.


Bollmeier, S. G., Wenger, P. J., and Forinash, A. B. (2007) ‘Impact of Online Lecture-capture on Student Outcomes in a Therapeutics Course’, American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 74, 7, Article 127.

Cooke, M., Watson, B., Blacklock, E., Mansah, M., Howard, M., Johnson, A., Tower, M., Murfield, J. (2012) ‘Lecture Capture: first year student nurses’ experiences of a web-based lecture technology’, Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, 29, 3, 14-21.

Copely, J. (2007) ‘Audio and video podcasts of lectures for campus-based students: production and evaluation of student use’, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 44, 4, 387-399.

Ford, M. B., Burns, C. E., Mitch, N. and Gomez, M. M. (2012) ‘The effectiveness of classroom capture technology’, Active Learning in Higher Education, 13, 3, 191-201.

Leadbeater, W., Shuttleworth, T., Couperthwaite, J., Nightingale, K. P. (2013) ‘Evaluating the use and impact of lecture recording in undergraduates: Evidence for distinct approaches by different groups of students’, Computers & Education, 61, 185-192.

Owston, R., Lupshenyuk, D., Wideman, H. (2011) ‘Lecture capture in large undergraduate classes: Student perceptions and academic performance’, Internet and Higher Education, 14, 262-268.

Pritchard, D. (2010) ‘Where learning starts? A framework for thinking about lectures in university mathematics’, International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 41 (5), 609-623.

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