Recording lectures

Posted @ 20:53 27 April 2012

Here’s a hot topic – at least among lecturers – and perhaps of concern to students – Should all lectures be recorded and made available to students for private study?

Advocates cite studies that show substantial benefits for students: (a system vendor)

It has become increasingly common to see students recording lectures on their mobile phones, underlining the value that students see in capturing the content of lectures for later review and revision. Many institutions are recognising the value this has for learning, and for ensuring equal opportunities e.g. for students with special needs, or who are working in a second language. They are therefore implementing centralised systems that enable simple capture of audio, Powerpoint slideshows and possibly video of the lecturer which is then uploaded to a streaming server to be made available to students on demand. Increasingly this enable students to access the material on their mobile devices.  A centralised system is easy for lectures to use, provides better quality for students and gives the university or college greater control over access. Everyone is a winner?

Many lecturers however, have deep reservations about this development. Firstly there is the confidence element – many people, including lecturers (!) find it difficult to listen to themselves or see themselves on video and feel confident about their performance. Any mistakes or lack of preparation will be there for all students and perhaps worse – colleagues and university managers – to see. Could this become a tool for staff appraisal?  If the recorded lectures are as useful as described, why is it necessary to retain the live lecture? Won’t university managers seek to reduce costs by re-using recorded lectures and reducing staff numbers?  Then there are issues about the use to which students or others may put the recorded materials. Will they become available to people outside the institution who have not paid the tuition fees? Will they be edited and used for malicious purposes? What copyright protections exist for the tutors; and conversely what is the risk of academics being sewed for breach of copyright if they show restricted third party material during their lecture which is subsequently posted publically online? From a pedagogic point of view, will the fact that a lecture is being recorded inhibit student questions and discussion?

 These concerns are often expressed by lecturers keen to maintain the status quo. However, the recording of lectures has also been criticised by those who feel it IS simply maintaining the status quo in the rapidly emerging digital and networked age. For instance see:

The argument here is that lectures are a very passive form of learning and that the same tools that are used to capture and deliver recorded lectures can be more effectively employed in innovative approaches to teaching that require greater interactivity on the part of the student.

Where do you stand in this debate? What are the practices at your institution? If you are a student, what works best for you? – You can post your thoughts in the discussion forum (see link on right), or send a response (to in the form of a follow-up article to include here.


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