Accept lecture capture despite attendance drop, says dean

More than half of academics surveyed said being videoed makes them less spontaneous, but importance to students is clear

July 4, 2019
Digital video camera recording footage

One of the biggest studies of its kind to date has concluded that although the introduction of lecture capture does lead to reduced attendance, academics must accept that students see it as a valuable part of the learning experience.

Video recording of teaching is now common on most Western campuses, but it remains a contentious issue for some academics, who have raised concerns about issues ranging from intellectual property rights to the use of footage to undermine industrial action, as well as the impact on students’ attendance.

Efforts to get a clear answer on the last point have often been thwarted by the use of self-reported attendance data and by small sample sizes. But new research conducted at the University of Leeds draws on data across a whole institution following the installation of lecture capture technology and finds that the availability of video footage does cause a drop in attendance.

The paper, published in Computers & Education, says that although attendance at lectures that were not recorded was 85.7 per cent, this dropped to 81 per cent when videos were available.

In a survey of staff, 53.6 per cent of respondents agreed that lecture capture encouraged poor attendance.

However, the study also surveyed 1,734 students about their views on lecture capture and found that they made significant use of lecture recordings, especially for note taking, clarification and assessment preparation.

While the main reason students gave for watching a recording was missing a lecture, a high number reported using the videos to recap content that they may not have understood clearly during a class. About three-quarters of participants reported watching recorded lectures “often” for help when writing assignments.

The total number of student views of videos rose from about 500,000 in the first year of the study to 1.7 million in the fourth. The proportion of students viewing at least one video climbed over the same period from 50.4 per cent to 81.4 per cent, with students watching 10 recordings each on average.

Students’ positive views contrasted with the responses from staff. More than one in four lecturers (27.5 per cent) said lecture capture had resulted in changes to their teaching style, with more than half (50.8 per cent) saying it had hindered their spontaneity.

Neil Morris, dean of digital education at Leeds and one of the authors of the study, described the reduction in attendance as “marginal”, albeit statistically significant, adding that it was “unfortunate” that some staff had felt the need to alter their teaching style.

Many in the sector have highlighted the importance of lecture capture for students with special educational needs or personal and family commitments that affect their ability to attend lectures.

“With staff, you would hope they have a pedagogy-led approach with all their teaching, but it feels there have been unintended consequences of lecture capture, where technology has led instead,” Professor Morris said.

“They are thinking about the negative implications of the technology – what will people think of me? – so they just say what’s on the slides and stop telling stories or going off track, which is the brilliant part of a fantastic lecture,” he said. He added that it created “a vicious circle – lectures aren’t engaging so students see no value in attending”.

Professor Morris added: “The data from this survey show how important it is that universities have a detailed conversation with staff and say, ‘Students absolutely want and need this kind of support with their teaching, and they are using it for learning reasons, so how do we implement the technology effectively, led by pedagogy?’”

Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.

Related articles

Related universities

Reader's comments (12)

Please add a link to the paper you are talking about...
A colleague at a US university where lecture caputue is SOP (standard operating procedure) was made redundant, after which the university continues to offer 'his' module -- as delivered by his recorded lectures.
Haha...if your course design is built around your lecture alone then you have shot yourself in your foot!!!
@shadowofthephotographer. Exactly! Why academics and their trades unions have been sleepwalking into their own redundancy baffles me. Creating courses without lectures (or at most a very small proportion of the total teaching) is now probably the only way to address this risk.
As I new Lecturer I find this all very interesting although when first highlighted as an option my initial concern's were two fold - will it not ultimately result in redundancies and how can we assess comprehension? In a room body language is key and blank faces can be identified and different explanations/examples given to address this. I will continue to follow this debate as I think there will be a fine line balancing pro's and cons.
Having had a quick look at the linked paper, the Leeds study does not appear to have taken any interest in students' actual learning. It shows that recording lectures causes a significant drop in lecture attendance, but then says, on the basis of a survey, 'but students like it, so we must do it.' Leeds management, in the form of their "dean of digital education", one of the authors of this study, then proceeds to castigate lecturers for having a 'bad attitude' about lecture recording. Contrast the study reported in the THE last June, which did bother to consider learning: recording lectures causes lower attendance, and lower attendance leads to lower attainment/less learning-- A cynic would say: the June 2018 study was done by academics who care about students' learning, and the Leeds study was done by managers who don't.
There are a number of data areas that have to be considered when trying to make the "students say they want it, so they shall have it" opinion a policy to record all lectures and provide all recordings. 1. Number of views does not mean it is useful, and it does not prove atudent engagement in the absence of attendance (and certainly not as an average across an institution). You need logged views mapped to attendance to see if those who are coming are viewing more, or if absentees are using it or abusing it. 2. You also need WHEN views are happening, and how long they watched. Are viewings occurring in the few days after the lecture, or mainly during revision time? Because binge watching at the end to revise tompass is not learning (especially if the viewers are absentees who did not view the day after the lecture they missed). 3. Is attendance, times of viewings, number of, being mapped to assessment outcomes? If even only taking a sample (I can do it with a 250 student module due to the way I've modified my assessment), can you show that those who attend do better in assessment questions linked to the topics they viewed when they viewed then during the year than those who did not attend (or attended but did not view/briefly looked but didnt watch all)? The analytics tools in many lecture capture packages can do much of this. And my worry is that we have the tools and users available to properly analyse the issue, yet continue to push a model based purely on an average and a chat to ask what students "reckon". Personally I like lecture capture. And it definitely doesnt stop me telling stories or going off on a tangent. But I prefer to make the videos available to only those who attended, gave me notice and a reason day or two before, and have reasonable adjustments/disability (I just cant now due to the wording of a policy dug up). And if we're going by the student voice as the valuable opinion that it is (which it sure as heck is), the students who I have asked (the attendees who engage and do well of course) prefer this too and I think it's unfair that those who don't attend get such a valuable resource when they themselves are working so hard attending and engaging writing up notes. I just think we need more in-depth data crunching and consideration of areas of grey before wholesale enforcing the current event capture model on the sector.
Anyone familiar with the history of theatre, music hall etc during the period when film and then television emerged and grew should be able to predict the direction of travel. It didn’t happen overnight, but as the new technologies became embedded demand for live actors to be paid per repeat performance diminished. Those with the talent and economic initiative to move to the new media could only be successful by negotiating different economic models – much higher fee per performance, repeat fees and suchlike. The rest became ‘redundant’. The likely pattern for lecture capture is: the current phase, get students used to it alongside live lectures and hope that academics don’t notice the danger; the next phase is likely to be to use recordings alone – either produced for that purpose or, over time for large number subjects, professionally produced by commercial publishers. Once this phase is in place the proportion of academics needed to teach will shrink and departments will shrink accordingly. Check out the policy of your university on the copyright ownership in the teaching related material you produce – there is a high likelihood that behind the scenes your university has claimed ownership to use these as they wish and, should they seek to restrict your future employability, giving you no legal tight to use the same materials elsewhere.
How we can attain online class please tell me method complete.
Some sixteen years a colleague and I published a study of what happens with a certain content when its performed in a live lecture vs in a studio for delivery on-line/on video. The remarkable shift was from a dialogical style to a recital. The rich humour in the auditorium evaporated from the talk in the studio, and the energy produced in the immediacy of student and teacher communication disappeared. The manuscript took half the time to talk through, and some students might find that a good thing. . The paper argues that performatve aspects of what the media "does" to the content needs more attention.
Why should the lecturer turn up if the students don't? S/he might as well give a canned version on skype and save the best material for seminars, tutorials, or their research. Then this raises the issue of why have all those university facilities at all? This really seems to be shooting the concept of the high quality, collegial university in the foot.
Recording lectures, Isolation and Student Mental Health: Recording lectures means the students do not need to turn up and can watch the lectures in their own rooms. This increases isolation. This isolation is already promoted by individual student rooms, with on-suite facilities, separate cooking facilities, food delivery services and on-line resources. Student mental health has been suffering for a number of years and we are facilitating isolation by providing the above, in response to perceived student desire. As a society we are accustomed to fulfilling desires, we need to be more aware of the long term health implications of our actions.