Whatever view you take on lecture capture – a useful tool to support learning or something that encourages absenteeism – its use in universities has become prolific. A 2017 survey by Barbara Newland, a principal lecturer in teaching and learning at the University of Brighton, found that 86 per cent of higher education institutions now have lecture capture technology on site.
But while most of the research into lecture capture has focused on the pros and cons debate, Emily Nordmann, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Glasgow, and colleagues in four other UK universities have taken the view that lecture capture is here to stay – and have focused their research on the best ways for universities to provide and use it.
Dr Nordmann said that much of the controversy around lecture capture stems from a lack of clear and concrete leadership on how to maximise the learning value. Her team’s preprint paper, “Lecture capture: practical recommendations for students and lecturers”, published this week, aims to provide evidence-based recommendations “in a way that is fair to staff and promotes effective learning strategies for students”, she said.
According to Dr Nordmann, first and foremost is the need to provide students with guidance. “You can’t expect students to know what the best practice is, especially when a lot of academics don’t even know what the best practice is,” she told Times Higher Education. Therefore her preprint includes a link to student guidance that can be disseminated around a university. “You need to be clear that the recording is a supplement to their understanding and that they should always go to the live lecture,” Dr Nordmann added.
But if students have missed the lecture and they want to catch up using the recording – vital if they have been ill, have mobility issues or have family responsibilities – then the first time they watch it they should do so all the way through without stopping and at normal speed, she explained. “It should be as close to the live lecture as possible.”
Then, later on, it can be very useful to pause or rewind the recording. “Targeted use of recordings appears to be better than repeatedly watching the whole thing again, it’s better to reflect on your understanding of the lecture and revisit the bits that need clarification,” she said.
For Dr Nordmann, the idea that lecture capture is supplementary is imperative. Lecturers must not think that there needs to be an equivalence between the live lecture and the recording “unless you are teaching online-only students”, she argued.
For example, if teachers want to have an interactive element to the lecture they should not hold back from doing so because it is being recorded and students cannot interact later, she continued. Dr Nordmann also advised against spending time editing the recording.
In addition, not every lecture must be recorded. “There is often this idea that you must have an all-or-nothing approach to recording, but some lectures might not be suitable, as they might cover a sensitive topic,” Dr Nordmann said. These do not have to be recorded but lecturers should set out at the beginning of the term which lectures will be available, she advised.
Dr Nordmann said that if teachers find that students are not attending lectures, they should not immediately blame the availability of recordings but take an in-depth look at why students might skip them – could it be the lectures themselves?
In this instance, lecture capture could prove very valuable – by offering the ability for the lecturer to self-evaluate. “Lecture capture should never be used for performance management by the institution, and most existing policies explicitly prohibit this, but self-review can be really useful for staff,” she said – even if it is excruciatingly difficult to watch yourself on video.
The possible use of lecture capture in performance management is one of the concerns that make the topic so controversial, alongside issues surrounding intellectual property and its use to break staff strikes. “My argument is that the best protection against these issues is a strong lecture capture policy in every institution and staff should make themselves aware of the details of their current policy.”
“It would be incredibly short-sighted to use lecture capture in this way. University management might solve a problem one year, but they’ll create new ones for the next. There has be trust on both sides,” she added.
Dr Nordmann said that she and her team welcomed feedback on the preprint paper’s guidance from people working across the higher education sector. “We believe there are definitely ways of building lecture capture into good pedagogical practice and to make people think about teaching a bit more,” she added.