Lecture capture – an important inclusive learning technology

By Dr Louise Robson, Senior University Teacher, School of Biosciences, University of Sheffield. Louise was awarded her NTF in 2021. You can follow Louise on Twitter @Louisescicomm.

Dr Louise Robson - image of Louise standing against a brick wall. She is smiling, and wearing a blue and pink floral top, and glasses.
Dr Louise Robson – University of Sheffield

As an academic with over 25 years experience, it’s fair to say I have delivered a lot of teaching sessions over the years.  My philosophy is to always challenge, stimulate and enthuse my students, while keeping student support at the center of my teaching.  Using digital technologies allows me to provide that supportive and inclusive learning environment for my students.  One key technology I have championed is the use of lecture capture recordings, the focus for this blog. 

I first started using lecture capture in 2015. At the time I wasn’t really convinced about the benefit to students.  However, given the potential for supporting student learning, I decided to trial it, and, importantly, evaluate the student experience.  That evaluation transformed my position, as I could see how it massively levelled up the playing field for students.  I saw an increase in performance, with fewer lower second and third class grades (43% to 33% of the cohort).  Together with very powerful student quotes from those with additional support needs, “I suffer from arthritis. I’ve suffered from anxiety over missed lectures or forced myself to attend. Lecture capture meant I could stay at home and recover and it’s a major relief”, my opinion of lecture capture literally took a 180-degree turn.  

Making recordings available allows students to “travel back in time” to check out aspects that they might not have understood, or something they have missed. Students told me they were able to use the captures to understand the basics, i.e. they used captures as part of their self-regulated learning activities, and this allowed them to feel more positive about their own learning achievements: “a lifesaver, allowed me to learn the detail, make really good notes, which I revised and achieved good grades”.   Another benefit was support for students who could not attend lectures. Students have a multitude of demands on their time, others have health conditions that impact on their physical ability to come to campus, or learning support needs that mean although they attend lectures they struggle to take detailed notes: “suffered very badly from depression, often struggled to get myself out of my room. Having lecture captures meant that I was still able to pass my degree”.  In the current ongoing pandemic, with students still having to self isolate if they test positive for coronavirus, having a recording of class is critical for supporting their learning (and I am even live streaming my classes). 

Of course, we must not assume that our students instinctively know how to use lecture captures effectively, and in fact many students need support in this.  As I transitioned back to campus in September 2021, I recognised that many of our students have not previously used recordings of live in-class sessions, and I worked with professional services to reintroduce a campaign for supporting students, which was initially rolled out in 2019.  This campaign drew on guidance from a paper I co-authored (1), and working across a range of professional departments and teams I provided a set of bespoke resources on how to use lecture captures effectively, e.g. online resources and workshops, campus digital displays, and a video “Lecture capture: time travel for students”.  

Image is a screenshot from a video, produced using animation (cartoon style). A black car is facing us, and next to it stands a Black woman holding a giant spanner. The caption reads 'If only you could go back in time and hear exactly what your lecturer said...'.
Screen shot: Vimeo video, ‘Lecture capture: Time travel for students’.

For me it is clear that lecture capture continues to provide an inclusive and supportive learning environment. Students are a diverse group of individuals, with different lived experiences and challenges to overcome.  The flexibility of having lecture capture recordings recognises that diversity, and allows us to support all our students. 

Key reference

Nordmann, E, Kuepper-Tetzel, CE, Robson, L, Phillipson, S, Lipan, G and Mcgeorge, P. (2020). Lecture capture: Practical recommendations for students and lecturers. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology. Advance online publication. Pre-publication 2018.

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