Lecture Capture Provides 
an Interactive Classroom Experience

St. Edward’s University has more than 5,300 students in Austin, TX, and Angers, France, so its administrators need to provide collaborative technologies to students on the main campus and across the globe. They understand the importance of online education — to the point where they are adding two global, digital classrooms to deliver a more robust and interactive curriculum that will offer students the opportunity to learn via lecture capture, videoconferencing, and collaborative tools.

Like St. Edwards, universities across the nation are using lecture capture to shift away from the traditional classroom lecture model toward interactive classroom experiences. Here’s how, and what both students and administrators are gaining from the shift.

What Is Lecture Capture?
“Lecture capture is widely considered the fastest-growing video application on campus,” says Sean Brown, vice president of Education for Sonic Foundry, Madison, WI, which produces a video management platform for academic webcasting. “It generally denotes systems that are focused on capturing the audio and video from a classroom, synchronized with the classroom’s visual aids, and presenting it on the web.” You may also have heard it referred to as rich media capture, classroom capture, academic capture, and classroom video systems.

“It is a relatively new capability that we are seeing more and more in higher education,” adds Andy Lausch, vice president of Higher Education for CDW-G, Vernon Hills, IL, a supplier of technology solutions. “Its value lies in greater classroom interaction, allowing faculty to make time for other learning models, such as hands-on learning, group projects, and one-on-one instruction.” 

How It Is Being Used
Administrators at Arizona State University (ASU), Tempe, began lecture capture about 12 years ago, providing its electrical engineering program through satellite distribution. “About 10 years ago, we decided that model wasn’t scalable and wouldn’t allow us to have the reach, convenience, and flexibility we want in order to deliver our graduate portfolio,” says Octavio Heredia, associate director of Extended Education. “We decided we wanted a web-based portfolio but, at that time, it was not commercially available, so we built it from scratch.” He notes that this approach allowed for a little more scale and broader student appeal, but it was labor intensive.

“In 2004, we learned about a company that was trying to work in the area of lecture capture,” Heredia continues. “They had a software app that would allow us to record, digitize, package, and deliver any presentation we wanted to record. As we looked to expand the number of courses we produced, we knew we would need an application beyond our own tools, so we evaluated their product.”

As ASU administrators worked with Sonic Foundry’s Mediasite, they were able to provide product development feedback and enable large-scale deployment. “We were at the leading edge of lecture capture at the time,” Heredia recalls. Currently, the University provides lecture capture for 60 different engineering graduate classes, and professors are piloting eight to 10 undergraduate courses to see what works best. It couldn’t be easier — the recorder automatically turns itself on and sends whatever instructors present (laptop, tablet, whiteboard, document camera, visualizer) — to a server where it is streamed live and archived for immediate playback on-demand.

Administrators at University of Maryland-Baltimore School of Dentistry (UMB Dental School) began using lecture capture in an existing facility in 2005, in an effort designed to expose students and faculty to it and prepare them for the “real thing” — lecture capture unveiled in a brand new facility in 2006. “We’ve been using it ever since,” says James Craig, professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Policy and an educational consultant.

One specific way in which the tool is used is in dental units, which are simulations of professional dental spaces. A faculty member does a demonstration that is streamed to the students as though they all have front-row seats. Then the professor walks through the classroom, watching and assisting as students perform the same task they just saw demonstrated.

Benefits to Students

According to Learn Now, Lecture Later, a national survey of 1,000 students, faculty, and IT professionals in higher education and public high schools, conducted by CDW-G, 69 percent of students want to incorporate more technology in their classes. For college students, this means recorded lectures, laptops/netbooks, and digital content. It also found that 41 percent of higher education and high school students report using lecture capture.

Advancements in technology, including the now tried-and-true lecture capture, support these numbers. Plus, the benefits students receive from it are likely to ensure that administrators continue implementing it, thus increasing student exposure. “First and foremost,” says Heredia, “we get the most positive feedback on the convenience and flexibility it provides our students. Our graduate students are working professionals who don’t have the opportunity to come to campus during the day. They have to balance work, personal, and education commitments. Lecture capture gives us the mechanism to enable them to pursue their education and maintain that balance in their lives.”

Heredia notes that lecture capture also allows the University to support students in what may be unusual situations. “Our flexibility allows us to support them in adapting to different life situations that might come up while still advancing in their academic endeavors.”

Similarly, notes Brown, lecture capture provides critical supplementary text that’s every bit as important as the textbooks themselves. “We’re seeing a wider adoption in this decade based solely upon the idea that students very much enjoy the opportunity to watch the class that they attended,” he says. “In this day and age, for a student to have only one chance to hear a professor deliver the material is unacceptable. And we see it from our system analytics that show spikes in viewing as we get closer to final exams.”

In addition to the value added concept, the ability to review material ensures students’ ability to grasp content, ideal for today’s expanding global partnerships. “In this case,” Heredia notes, “it works well where English may not be a student’s first language.”

Craig agrees: “We have a lot of foreign students, and they appreciate the ability to adjust the speed control down.”

Benefits to Administrators
Students aren’t the only ones who benefit from lecture capture. There are numerous benefits for campus administrators.

ASU has a goal to provide access to as many students as possible across the state and around the world, delivering high-quality education that solves global problems. “For us,” says Heredia, “lecture capture is about having the mechanism to provide access to the knowledge and expertise that resides with our faculty.”

Craig notes that lecture capture provides accountability for what’s said in lecture. “We’ve had students come back with exam answers marked incorrect and cite the minutes and seconds the information was presented in class to indicate that their answers are correct.”

Another benefit is that it is a recruiting tool, notes Lausch: “Today’s prospective students definitely look for technology tools as they evaluate schools.” Conversely, it also provides an incentive for student retention, which Brown indicates is especially important at public universities.

Lecture capture allows administrators energy savings and flexibility in space planning. “Professors can record lectures for students to view at their convenience and then come to class to review and discuss the material,” says Brown. “This is called a ‘flipped classroom.’ It means there’s potential for fewer class sessions for energy savings and opening that space for other classes.”

The idea of lecture capture providing a more interactive classroom model with benefits to both students and administrators is an education shift that’s likely here to stay. As Craig indicates, without it, “my students would go crazy.” 

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