To lecture capture or not to lecture capture? That’s not really the question

Photo by Yucel Moran on Unsplash

So you know how it is, you are trying to write an internal paper about something (in this case lecture capture) and as part of your research (aka distraction tactics) you put out a message on twitter just to see if anyone is there/ cares/ can actually help you- and then you get slightly taken overwhelmed with the response.

In response to to the this tweet

I got a fair few responses covering quite a range of opinions.  From the almost straightforward,

to the more slight more nuanced

to the more creative

to the more serious points

(For a very relevant and thought provoking exploration of that very issue, I highly recommend watching Melissa Highton’s recent presentation at this year’s ALT conference )

And the success stories

But this . . .

To quote from Tressie McMillian Cottom’s keynote (again from the ALT conference) the devil is always in the context.

My context is this. My institution does not have a lecture capture system, but it seems everyone else does, so our senior management are asking about it. I have to prepare a discussion paper for our Senate. So whilst I see the benefits that lecture capture can bring – there are many –  I am also acutely aware of the costs (not just hardware/software) but the staff resources, and the wider CPD issues for both staff and students.  At at time when we are not awash with money for anything, I have to ask is it worth spending a substantial amount of money on lecture capture? Or should we not just do something because everyone else, but instead focus our resources and efforts around changing our expectations for both staff and students on the role of not lecture capture but learning capture – those key suggests/points of knowledge transfer that really make the difference to understanding. And in doing so, take another look at the tech we already have and see how we can extend its use.

As part of my research I came across this preprint of a review of the impact of lecture capture. In terms the value students get from lecture capture it states:

“the literature clearly indicates that for the majority of students the greatest value of recordings is as a learning resource. They use recordings to revisit and clarify complex confusing topics”

Of course there are benefits for students with disabilities, non native speakers etc, in being able to access lecture recordings, but again do they need the whole lecture? There were more responses like this

Which is more of what I think we need to be  doing. In turn investing in cpd to help support staff develop relevant digital capabilities. There’s then of course the need to  provide time from staff to actually think about the wider issues around lecture/learning capture and not just a tech solution, that provides  resource for students, but with a bit more thought could provide a better, accessible resource for students. This would provide a way to refocus our institutional approach to more active learning.

For me the question just now is not to lecture capture or not to lecture capture, it is much deeper. In fact I don’t really think it is one question. It’s a number of them around what, who, how and when we should be investing in people, learning spaces (both physical and digital) and tech to improve and advance learning and teaching.

I wonder if I should ask twitter again . . .


  1. I think that’s a valuable survey and worthwhile. Active learning can be one way to promote lecture capture (done more in “screencast” type format). Our vendor has both options. The automated lecture capture and a then a whole other recorder client that’s for personal use, as a desktop lecture recording client. The upside they also provide the hosting of storage. It is more more less under our control. We do whatever the instructors tell us. We delete stuff IF they tell. Unlike Donna Lanclos, nobody seems to care that these videos stay up UNLESS someone tells us to take them down. We consider it their property and do with it as they wish. But faculty have to be made aware, things don’t get automatically deleted at the end of the term any more than the course website on Blackboard gets deleted. It’s still there, it’s just not accessible to anyone other than the students who enrolled in the course. The videos are always tied to the enrollment for the course, for the semester in which they occurred. But they still exist, and that’s one thing to keep in mind.

  2. If the lecture capture means no-one loses out by being in the room, may I respectfully suggest no-one other than the lecturer need be there and a lot of time and space can be saved – give or take a couple of people that the lecturer might actually need to feel that they are delivering a lecture with real people present.
    Beyond that, I stick to my original view that lecture capture destroys a huge amount of the interaction that a modern learning environment expects (very little talk-n-chalk) and allows lazy students to piggy-back those who turn up.
    What I think is really valuable is live-streaming as that allows the sick, the working and those with impossible commutes to participate. The difference is that people are expected to participate.
    A part-way house can be created with associated compulsory web discussions which can be highly productive – provided the lecturer has time, energy and resources (dare one say, pay?) to get in there and kick it all along beyond the basics of the lecture.

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