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February 2017

Giving learners another chance Key Points „ The earliest adopters of lecture capture in the UK began around a decade ago, but take-up has increased rapidly in the past three or four years „ Different educational establishments use lecture capture in different ways – so clients may need guidance from integrators in deciding what their requirements are „ Further education colleges do not use the technology as widely as universities, but competition for apprenticeship contracts with employers may help here

Richard Doughty speaks to end-users within universities and colleges to find out how they started using lecture capture and voting technology, the different ways in which these tools are used, and their plans for the future


he ability of universities and colleges to record, stream and archive lectures for their students has rapidly increased over the past three or four years. Breakthroughs in lecture capture and voting technologies have made the systems easier to use and seen large increases in student and staff take-up. One of the UK’s leading higher education institutions in lecture capture is Essex University, an early adopter of the technology. A key reason for this is its long-standing commitment to equal opportunities and support for students with learning difficulties. Up until 2010, Essex had been relying on banks of analogue audio cassette recorders hardwired to around 15 lecture theatres – until cassettes became obsolete and students were no longer familiar with them. In 2011 a computer science postgrad student created a stopgap solution, which captured digital audio and delivered to students as an MP3 file. By then, infectious student enthusiasm had turned into expectation of audio and screen capture. Lecturers initially feared lecture capture would affect attendance; in fact, evidence shows recordings make little difference to this. Tessa Rogowski, assistant director of IT services, says: “We call it ‘listen again’ rather than ‘lecture capture’.” The challenge was clear: Essex had to meet student demand and get staff onside. After a six-

month period trialling three different products, software from US-based Panopto was chosen – and remains the solution today. Interest in the product is now growing across mainland Europe, following initial uptake in the US and UK, according to EMEA general manager Peter Ingle. At Essex, more than 200 teaching spaces provide audio recordings of all lectures from 06:00 to 21:00 and capture video, slides and computer clips used as support materials. “A professor will

‘The idea of lecture capture is not to replace lectures but to be an effective learning tool’ Susan Barfield, Newcastle University

walk into a room and deliver a lecture in the normal way,” says Rogowski. “Each learning space or room has a PC in the background scheduled to record from when the lecture begins to when it’s due to end. We then insert that lecture into a student’s online learning material. They have it so good!”

Driven by academics Lecture capture at Newcastle University, another early adopter, follows the same principles as

„ Regular use of lecture recordings does lead to improved exam results, a study has shown Essex, although its main drivers have been academics, not students. “We wanted to offer our students more so we ran a pilot in our medical school in 2008,” says Susan Barfield, customer media support officer. “And it just took off. We started using it in the main lecture theatres, and by 2013 we were hosting around 200 venues and now our students are wanting more and more.” Newcastle streams events and occasional public lectures, but not regular lectures. Says Barfield: “The idea of lecture capture is not to replace lectures but to be an effective learning tool. We want students to be able to interact with academics.” Students can access recordings via the university’s Blackboard virtual learning environment, which is fully integrated with Panopto software. Lecturers, meanwhile, need do nothing, as lecture recording is scheduled to start at five minutes past the hour. If they don’t want to record a session or a group discussion, they can program that manually from the lectern. At Bath University, making lecture capture technology more accessible was the number one issue for the students’ union for two or three years. “It was what they wanted to do more than anything else,” says service manager Rob Hyde. ”And we’ve implemented it since then.” Growth has since been exponential, with usage up 50% each year over the past three years. One of the problems for integrators is clear direction about what a university actually wants its

Installation February 2017 Digital Edition