Lecture Capture in UK Higher Education

Photo of someone holding a mobile phone in video capture mode

During June I visited three institutions to present on the way we have developed our lecture capture service at York and how lecture captures can support student learning, drawing upon our research. In this post I report back on how other universities have adopted lecture capture and areas of discussion in the sector. Links to my talks are available at the bottom of this post.

Perspectives on the role of lecture capture

One of the advantages of getting representatives from different universities together, as was the case at the Manchester UK HE Lecture Capture Meeting, is that we get to see the different rationales for using learning technologies. At York, the Replay lecture capture service provides a supporting learning resource, enabling students in their independent study to draw upon the lecture content and contextualise it with other learning resources and activities. Our service is designed to give students the flexibility to use the captures and lecture content in ways that suit them to achieve desired learning outcomes.

There were similarities, as all institutions I met said that their lecture capture system was not designed as a replacement for attendance. Equally, there was recognition in the value of captures in supporting students who have English as a second language (this accounts for up to a third of the student population at Manchester, for example), and in some cases, for disabled students as part of a support plan.

Other universities have different strategic drivers. Some new entrants, just exploring the role of lecture capture, wish to use the technology to support team-teaching. In this instance, enabling staff to watch each others’ teaching to ensure coherency of a module or programme of learning. Other institutions wish to use the platform to put greater emphasis on student contributions, allowing students to post video content for other students to learn from.

This idea of using the lecture capture platform to enable forms of learning and teaching that are not dependent upon the traditional lecture delivery is actually developing pace. The discourse around lecture capture is shifting towards how we can enable learning using multimedia resources more broadly. Through pedagogic notions such as the ‘flipped classroom’ (see our webinars and case study), lecture capture platforms have the potential to make the in-class experience more engaging, efficiently using the face-to-face time for active forms of learning.

Increasing value of media resources

Lecture capture platforms can be used to create videos outside the lecture room in a variety of ways. Sally Hanford discussed one aspect of the University of Nottingham’s learning and teaching strategy that encouraged ‘accelerating media-rich learning’. What I note immediately here is the emphasis on media-rich ‘learning’, not media-rich ‘content’. As you might imagine, the use of this new phrase prompted much discussion amongst the lecturing staff at Nottingham, with the positive outcome of sharing of practice where different forms of multimedia had been incorporated into learning activities. Some of the examples that Sally presented included: packaging video content with quizzes to help students check understanding and break up ideas into logical chunks; demonstration of laboratory processes via video, rather than using ‘expensive’ lab time; remote presentations to and from distance learners; language practice; documenting field trips; use of video as trigger points in problem-based learning tasks; peer-assessment of video assignments; video diaries; and interviews with experts in an engaging conversational approach. Clearly there is a wide range of applications that have embedded the use of video in learning activities.

The University of Oxford have a focus on openness of learning, developing a culture that celebrates open knowledge sharing and dissemination. Many lecturers are keen to share their expertise, using video as the medium to do this via their institutional equivalent of YouTube. One of the key take-away messages from their presentation was that openness of content does not mean openness of learning. In many ways the mode of presentation, academic level and specialist language can close off a resource for general public consumption. This to me is one of the biggest reasons why a recording of a lecture for a degree programme is not likely to be useful as a stand-alone public resource, as the lecture sits within a module context understood by students of the discipline. However, even if only used internally, there is a potential to open up lectures to allow students to watch and get a flavour of modules that perhaps they are not enrolled on or unable to audit due to timetable clashes. Certainly, the recording alone does not represent the whole learning process of a module, but it may offer inspiration and introduce fundamental concepts that students can transfer into their own discipline.

Propelling learning with video

Over lunch, I spoke with Chris Baker and Howard Turpin of Edge Hill University and found out how their nursing programme had used their lecture capture platform to support development of practical skills. Nursing students were recorded undertaking a procedure with a ‘dummy’ patient using iPads clamped near practice beds in a clinical simulation unit. Afterwards, students used the video to re-watch their practice and identify where they can improve as part of a self-reflective activity. At Edge Hill, the tutor used commenting features on the video to allow the student to jump to specific points where performance was good or needed improvement as part of the feedback process. The video, and indeed the functionality of the capture platform, is being used to enhance feedback. Here then video is being used not just as a form of learning materials, for example the iPads could have just been used to playback demonstrations of procedures, but video is an integral part to students practical skills development. Read their case study: presenting performance and practice.

At York with our new lecture capture platform and mobile app, we have the potential for similar learning activities. We have already used the system for capturing student final year presentations and other colleagues have used video feedback for formative essay work. I’ll be exploring a range of enhancement approaches such as student-created videos and other forms of video feedback over the next academic year, taking inspiration from Young & Moes (2013) framework mapping multimedia activities to expected learning outcomes (see slide). Keep an eye on the ELDT blog and our webinar series.

Lecture capture research

Phil Devine and Matt Street from Keele University presented some initial findings from their student survey with over 350 respondents. During their pilot project they found students who were aware of the advantages and constraints of lecture capture, in particular noting that it isn’t a replacement for attendance due to the lack of potential for interaction with academic staff via a recording alone. 90.8% of their respondents said that lecture attendance wasn’t affected by provision of captures. There were similar findings to our survey data and other literature that show student’s frequency and type of viewing differs: about a fifth of those surveyed at Keele watched the whole lecture, with over half being selective and only watching specific sections. I particularly liked the phrasing of one question which asked how ‘critical’ lecture capture was to supporting students’ learning, with 60% in agreement. This more subjective question alludes to the impact of providing lecture capture, raising the expectations of availability and quality by the value placed on how recordings contribute to understanding course content.

Professor Richard Reece and Stuart Phillipson also outlined a large scale research project at the University of Manchester exploring connections between academic performance and use of lecture capture. It’s certainly a hotly debated topic, with existing literature being contradictory, referencing old forms of lecture capture, and often based on small scale surveys. In part, not being able to identify a relationship is down to the many factors that influence learner behaviour and academic success, which makes isolating the impact of one form of support intervention difficult. The lack of definitive answer on the impact on attainment is also down to students appropriating lecture recordings in different ways, as Keele showed and our own research demonstrates clearly. Jim Turner, Liverpool John Moores, identified a possible link between high-achievers low use of captures and low-achievers high use of captures (Loughborough Lecture Capture Conference, 2014), though doesn’t make any assertion of a causal relationship. It will be interesting to see whether there are any trends when the results are presented and whether some of the limitations of previous studies are addressed by drawing upon 3000 students across the institution, where lecture capture is very much embedded (40 thousand recordings and 3.8 million views each year).

Embedded use

Attendance and attainment are still raised as concerns by academic colleagues, noted in all three of the meetings I presented at. However, such concerns are subsiding for more critical discussion of the pedagogical relevance of recording lectures, raising questions not of capture but of lecturing itself. When speaking to lecturers recently, we considered what learning they wished students to achieve from the lecture and the link between the lecture experience and subsequent learning activities. Such links are dependent upon the discipline. As Witton (2016) suggested after showing differences in capture viewing by students in different subjects, there may be discipline-specific motivations for students’ use of lecture recordings based on the discipline pedagogy. Witton concluded by emphasising integration of video learning resources as part of ‘overall educational approaches’ (2016, p.9), enabling and embedding active engagement with video through learning activity (see Nottingham above). In the same vein, we need to provide guidance to students on the role and purpose of lectures at a subject level, in order that they can prioritise their use of captures to support their study and use their study time efficiently. If lectures are the starting point for learning on a module, captures help students make sense of the fundamental knowledge. Designs such as flipped classroom approaches shift the delivery of core content online, equally allowing students to use the video resource in ways that suit their learning. Whether capturing in class or creating video specifically for online, students are in a stronger position to apply subject knowledge and build their understanding of a topic through interactions with other students, assessments and authentic, discipline-specific activity.

Additional resources

Slides from my talks on lecture capture


Witton, G. (2016) ‘The value of capture: Taking an alternative approach to using
lecture capture technologies for increased impact on student
learning and engagement’, British Journal of Educational Technology, Early View.

Young. C. and Moes, S. (2013) How to move beyond lecture capture: Pedagogy Guide [PDF]. REC:all. Media & Learning Association.

One response to “Lecture Capture in UK Higher Education

  1. Pingback: Recap: ResponseWare: Lunch & Learn. | E-Learning Development Team·

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