Chances are, Socrates would have appreciated lecture capture.
Famously, the great philosopher-teacher never wrote a word. What we know of his work comes from Plato, his best-known student. Socrates valued direct — you might call it “in-class” — communication because he didn’t quite trust the written word or even images to convey accurately what he could get across in person.
Ultimately, the most basic and perhaps most important problem that lecture capture solves for educators is exactly the one that so bothered Socrates: How to present lessons to students who can’t be in the classroom. But the state of the art in lecture capture technology has now gone beyond that solution and provides opportunities for active and interactive learning that Socrates could have only dreamed of.
“Lecture capture really gives a face-to-face feel,” says Claire Stuve, a professor and educational technologist at the University of Toledo who has run the school’s lecture capture operations for a decade. “Because the software can record anything on your computer, there really are no limits.”
Extending education to all students
One of the most profound educational upsides to lecture capture is the opportunity it gives to reach students who might otherwise fall behind without it and to teach students in far-away places, says film studies professor Dyrk Ashton. Ashton teaches distance learning courses at the University of Toledo, University of Phoenix, Tiffin University, and others, mostly at the graduate level.
Both auditory and visual learners benefit from Ashton’s recorded lectures, he says, and are able to review the lesson as many times as needed— impossible to do without recordings. Other students can fast-forward to skip material that they feel they’ve mastered. Lecture capture system Echo360 provides professors with data about which areas of their lecture have been viewed and reviewed over and over. With that, they can improve the clarity of the lesson.
Ashton believes that the advancements in the technology that he has experienced in the last eight years of using lecture-capture systems will only continue. But, he says, it has reached a point where it effectively captures the intimacy of the live classroom for distance learners.
“Most the students I have are people with families, who have jobs,” Ashton says. “I have students in the military in Afghanistan, in Europe, California, Mexico, the East Coast. It certainly isn’t the same, but one thing that Echo360 does is that it can give entirely online courses more of the look and feel of the experience of being in live classrooms.”
Lecture capture doesn’t change the teaching environment
The most basic feature of lecture capture technology is right there in the name — recording a lecture or classroom discussion so that it’s available to students who miss class or who are taking online or blended classes. The University of Toledo made its lecture capture system a natural part of instruction. Its lecture capture-enabled classrooms are set up to begin recording automatically at the start of class and stop automatically at the end. Instructors don’t need to change anything about the way they teach other than making sure they are speaking clearly into their microphone for capturing optimum audio. The setup quickly becomes as intuitive as giving any classroom talk. “For faculty, it’s been pretty easy from the start,” Stuve says.
“Personal capture” is just another option that professors can use to record rich media presentation or tutorial segments when they don’t have access to an equipped classroom. This makes it easy to provide instruction from their homes, offices, or anywhere they have Internet access.
Once the lecture is finished, it is automatically uploaded into the school’s LMS, and can be edited at any time. Students can stream it directly from the web or download it, meaning even distance learners can get the best of classroom instruction.
The technology that has so simplified lecture capture has also made it more powerful. The professor can integrate visual and audio experiences that take a lesson beyond what we think of as a “lecture.” With some systems, instructors can seamlessly integrate images, PowerPoint presentations, and video.
Any curriculum that is highly dependent on visual imagery for learning, which includes art, science, mathematics, and more, can be woven into a lesson in a way that far surpasses the overheads of old, says Ashton.
“I can upload clips to Echo360 and have a PowerPoint that goes along with that,” Ashton says. “I can even play a movie clip on the screen and have myself talking along with it. I can stop it, start it, and talk along.”
Valuable feedback on learning trends and comprehension
The analytics provided by some lecture capture solutions equip educators with a treasure trove of data. Echo360, for example, gives instructors with valuable analytics on which students watched each video, for how long, and which segments. Areas that a student or several students watched repeatedly tells an instructor that he or she may need to revisit the topic of confusion in class.
By using personal capture to record content or, feedback from their own computers, instructors can deliver a more effective and personalized learning experience for students. “We have a lot of English professors who, rather than mark up papers using ‘track changes,’ will open the student’s paper on the screen and narrate their feedback,” Stuve says. “As a teacher myself it’s so much easier to give feedback, it’s more effective that way, more personal. You can say so much more than if you’re writing it out.”
Ultimately, lecture capture enables instructors to better serve students across a variety of study areas and learning styles. Lecture capture solutions, like Echo360, are closing the gap and providing opportunities for schools to replicate the in-classroom experience for distance learners while improving classroom instruction for on-campus students.