Implementing Lecture Capture – What are we Learning?

On Monday September 11, on behalf of the University of York, I attended a conference at the University of Leicester entitled: ‘Lecture Capture: What are we learning?’

Having recently implemented an institution-wide service, the University of Leicester’s Learning Institute invited Service Managers, Learning Technologists, Audio Visual Technicians and Information Technology Specialists to reflect on, and share in, each other’s approaches to Lecture Capture. Across the day, discussions thus were framed to cover Policy, Pedagogy and Deployment.

Changing Cultures

As part of the morning session, in addition to an overview of The University of Leicester’s own Digital Strategy, three case studies were presented from UK HE institutions. Jamie Harle from the University of Greenwich brought to the discussion the experience of having been involved in the deployment of Lecture Capture at two UK Universities. He began by encapsulating his own experiences of the pedagogic approach to Lecture Capture into two primary strands:

  • To be used as a supplementary resource to augment time spent in-class (a similar approach to the one that we have taken here at The University of York)
  • The ‘broadening’ of a lecture beyond time and space constraints and to ‘bottle the lecture’ for the purposes of on-demand or online viewing.

In terms of deployment, he identified a number of primary reoccurring issues that he had encountered:

  • The reluctance for academic members of staff to be recorded
  • The uncertainty about ‘self-use’, and the challenges involved with developing staff confidence to actuate and curate recordings without technical assistance
  • The issues presented to the quality of a recording by presenters not adapting to a teaching style that befits a recorded lecture. For example: not making an adjustment to wear the wireless microphone.

Harle proposed that the solutions to these issues should come in the form of informed and pedagogy-led dialogue with both departments and academics and the provision of suitable training to inform staff on tool-use and best-practice. Whilst these are methods that can be used to steer a culture change, he recognised that they are unlikely to bring it about immediately. As a cursory warning, one point that particularly resonated with me was the ‘pharmaceutical model’ of prescribing a drug to treat a side-effect caused by another drug. As an analogy, this maps rather cleanly to the field of Technology Enhanced Learning in general, where, so often, the strategic principles under which we set out to operate within can be betrayed in the search of quick-fixes.

Lecture Capture influencing research into student study habits

Amber Thomas form The University of Warwick then reported on their smaller, opt-in solution to Lecture Capture which has been allowed to grow within her institution through a more organic, and less policy-driven mandate than in most cases. One benefit that she highlighted from the process was a strengthening in the relationship between the learning technology team and the student union representatives. By amplifying the student voice, but also challenging it, Thomas considered how, as a general point in Higher Education, that Lecture Capture may well be inviting more, wide-ranging insight into how students learn.

Indeed, research into student note-taking and study habits has grown significantly within the sector. Inspired and provoked by the rise of Lecture Capture, institutions are more deeply exploring the impact of making lecture recordings available to students, both in terms of student performance, and how the material is consumed. Our own Replay surveys at The University of York also sheds some light on this.


An interesting theme that seemed to repeat throughout the day was whether Lecture Capture as a subject has, perhaps, the propensity to engender debate over an excessively large number of ‘what-if’ scenarios. Indeed, the feeling was that this may not be quite so true of other learning technologies or IT platforms, and would likely recede in time once lecture recording becomes more widespread and normalised as a concept.

One of the key areas of debate was how institutions approach the adoption of Lecture Capture, with many typically assuming either an ‘opt-in’ or an ‘opt-out’ policy. With an ‘out-in’ policy, lecturers volunteer to be recorded, whereas with an ‘opt-out’ policy, consent is assumed, or in some cases, enforced. Much of the discussion that emerged from this honed-in on discipline-specific teaching, and how one department’s suitability for the recording of lectures may differ from that of another. At the University of York, we presently do not yet operate an institution-wide ‘opt-out’ policy, and instead, we as a service-team (the ELDT), offer to feed into debates in an advisory capacity as individual departments adopt their own approach.

Sarah Williamson of Loughborough University presented an interesting institution-wide approach to the ‘opt-out’ model, wherein all lectures were be recorded by default, but would then then await the review of the presenter and require completion within a 24 hour publication window. With an SLA of this nature, there emerged a number of questions about sustainability and scaleabilty.

Another point of interest emerged from the University of Leicester in the fashion by which they have chosen to handle an individual student’s ‘opting out’ of being recorded. When a student wishes to interact with a lecturer during a live lecture, they are provided with a card which they can raise to instruct the speaker to ‘pause’ the recording, to thus then ensure that their interaction is not included for publishing with the lecture capture.

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