Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lecture Capture: Great aid to learning or a good reason to cut class

Lecture capture products have been around for a few years, but they really seem to be getting legs of late. There a few clear leaders in the field and several more with capture capability. Lecture capture tools are systems which allow the instructor to record video, audio and usually a related power point. This recorded content can be posted to the web in a very short time period. The result can be a complete archive of lectures for an entire course. This can be a great thing if a student misses a classes or if he/she needs to go back and review a particular topic before an exam. Most systems now provide the ability to search all of the lectures in a class to find just what you are looking for. For example if in week three the instructor lectured on "measures of central tendency" in statistics, you can find it in seconds by search for "mean, median or mode". The systems provide search capabilbity by using metadata to target specific subjects or topics within a series of lectures. This metadata can be captured in a few ways. One would be for the system to "read" the related words in the power point. The major players are now enhancing their systems to include more media sources (more cameras, document cameras connections, other video sources).

Some of the players that I have looked at pretty closely are Tegrity, Panopto and Mediasite. All do a good job and offer slightly different features. Mediasite usually requires the use of external hardware, but provides a superior recording. You can learn more about some of these and other products from an issue of Campus Technology Magazine (no affiliation with this blog.

When you mention lecture capture software to anyone they always say "won't students stop coming to class?" Good question, but the early research suggests that this is not pervasive. The recording of lectures does allow students to view a missed lecture, but the review component seems to be attractive to a great many. Inside Higher Education provides some interesting data and perspective on the issue. Although the discussion of whether recording lectures is a good thing or not is up for debate, I am thinking that the discussion moot. Campuses are going this way and an increasing number of faculty will want to go with the new technology. Like many learning technologies developed over the past 10 years, students are quickly adopting and expecting the service to be there. I can hear parents or freshmen asking whether your campus has lecture capture while they tour campus in the next 1-2 years. Like learning management systems and clickers, lecture capture will be mainstream in the near future.

Lecture capture can offer great advantages to students for a modest cost to a campus. You can buy a campus license for as little as $25,000 per year, but of course you can spends big money also. One of the best features of most of these tools is that all you need in the classroom is a USB camera/microphone and the software on the PC. They are generally designed for faculty to operate without a technician. Storing the videos can be done on a campus server or in the cloud. Cloud storage options are growing. If you have not looked at these technologies, you soon will be.

If you want to take a peek at Panopto, one of the popular products, click here here.

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