Here at York we are continuing research into the role lecture capture plays in supporting learning and teaching. Last academic year I undertook a mixed methods study drawing upon the detailed experiences of 12 students from the Department of Biology and the Department of Psychology. Participants provided diaries of how lecture capture was used to support private study, records of their use of the system and participated in semi-structured interviews that explored where lecture capture fits into their study processes, in particular behaviour change in class and external factors that influence studying patterns (see interim report for background).
UPDATE: Student study workflows, as mentioned at the end of the slides, now available online – How students use lecture captures as part of their studying [SlideShare] and video advice for students on the use of captures.
The rationale for this research stems from our critical perspective on existing literature and student feedback. Whilst there are a number of studies that indicate students’ approval of lecture capture, including our own institutional survey, what interests me is why. In order to answer this question, I began by challenging assertions that stem from student feedback suggesting that lecture capture is ‘extremely helpful for revision’ and ‘very useful’ (York TEL Survey 2014). Existing studies report quantitative survey data often focusing just on the act of using lecture captures and perceptions of their value, however this study provides a greater insight into the whole student experience, showing how and why lecture captures support students both in and out of the lecture room.
The initial findings were presented to a packed room at ALT-C, the major international conference for learning technology held in Manchester in September.
Three of the key messages are discussed below.
During the interviews students discussed how lecture capture complements other learning resources such as textbooks and the internet. Lecture capture offers a way to relive the live lecture, tapping into the expertise of the lecturer in the same way they could revisit content in other resources. Whilst there is indeed the risk that students will take the lecturer’s word as gospel, easily remedied by appropriate guidance as to how students should approach lecture content, the lecturer provides direction as to where to focus learning effort and frequently offering their own perspective that contrasts against other experts. Whilst the focus of this study was on how students utilised lecture captures during term time, students also expressed how during revision they would watch several captures together for a holistic view of the module content. From a pedagogical perspective this provides students the scope to create links between lectures and different modules.
Students value their notes. They form the basis of their revision, but also represent their own understanding of the module content, their thought processes and interpretations. From the interviews, a number of students commented on how they were able to engage more with the content in class, being able to process the lecture rather than simply focusing on copying content or what was being said verbatim. The pressure of note-taking in lectures is reduced, as more than one student said about the provision of lecture capture: it has made being in the lecture ‘less stressful’.
I refer to ‘note-making’ though, because whilst note-taking is capturing content, note-making involves interpretation and connecting different concepts together. This is what some students were doing with lecture capture. Whilst previously they were simply revisiting notes made in class, with lecture capture they structured their private, independent study using the lecture itself by replaying it. They could progress through the lecture, pausing, rewinding and playing parts again to improve their notes and understanding. Crucially, students said that they got more out of using the lecture capture as a result of attending class too, as they had a sense of the flow of the lecture, awareness of parts of the lecture that could not be captured and could be more targeted in their use of recordings. One student commented that on the odd occasion they could not attend, it would take two hours to go through a one hour lecture capture because of revisiting parts that were difficult to understand without being in the room.
Empowering independent learning
One of the unexpected outcomes of the research was how these students, who self-identified as regular users of lecture capture, showed a commitment to attending lectures and the relationship of in class and out of class working. In fact some of their learning approaches will form case studies I’m developing that will be circulated to students before the end of this term to encourage them to consider how lecture captures could form part of their private study processes.
A separate consideration in terms of students’ priorities also was discussed in the interviews, with lab work, work experience, placement interviews and more personal aspects all competing for students’ time. Lecture capture has offered students the flexibility to make choices over where their time is best spent, and it is important to note that the lecture as a learning experience is not the single method for learning or content delivery students are expected to engage with. Particularly as we encourage students to gain relevant work experience, or indeed undertake placements as part of their curriculum, rather than students falling behind, they have the opportunity to juggle such competing priorities.
Lecture capture therefore empowers students to make their own choices, both in terms of how they engage in lectures, where they focus their efforts at a particular time and how they utilise all the expertise available to them through their private study. It’s an enabler, a technology where the effectiveness is down to how it is incorporated into studying practice. As such, this research has provided an insight into how we, as educators, can think about how students could be better supported to utilise lecture capture and better understand the role of the lecture within the whole study experience.