Published: Oct. 22, 2012

Demo of classroom capture"I don't think it's my job to make students come to class," says Dr. Ingrid Ulbrich, chemistry instructor at CU Boulder. Nor does she think it important to take attendance, though she cares deeply about her student's success. During the spring and summer of 2012, Dr. Ulbrich used Lecture Capture software to record her lessons and made the video files and lecture notes available through an online database. Because students have constant access to these recordings, there are no acceptable excuses for missing a lesson. Accessing class material is the student's responsibility alone.

Over the past several decades, new technology has enabled teachers to shift classroom dynamics. Some technologies are uncomplicated upgrades, like replacing light projectors with digital projectors. Others have the potential to fundamentally alter how students learn. On its surface, Lecture Capture is a simple recording tool, yet integrating this technology into the classroom can affect information retention and student accountability in profound ways.

In August of 2009, the CU Office of Information Technology began equipping select classrooms with the technologies needed to use Lecture Capture. In these classrooms, faculty are able to record lectures automatically. The system is set up to begin one minute before the lecture is scheduled to start and end one minute after, allowing the instructor to focus on teaching. These video-recorded lectures can then be automatically posted on Desire2Learn for students to access at any time.

Faculty who do not have access to the equipped classrooms can record their lectures with a computer webcam or video camcorder. Screen capture software can be used to supplement these recordings for more in-depth presentations. Software like Camtasia Relay[1] makes it possible for the user to display presentation slides and lecture notes alongside the video recording. These pre-recorded lectures can be used to supplement material covered during the lecture and are often made available on video sharing sites such as Vimeo and YouTube.

Instructors choose to use Lecture Capture for a variety of reasons. Dr. Ingrid Ulbrich encourages students who have a difficult time grasping the material to review lectures multiple times. "I remember trying to take notes as an undergraduate," says Dr. Ulbrich, explaining how she struggled to simultaneously take notes and listen to the presentation. With Lecture Capture, students can pay attention and think more." Simply having the option to review a lecture a second time has the potential to help students with a range of learning styles retain material. Making recorded lectures available online also means that students who miss class due to illness will not fall behind. Because all lectures are available, students are accountable for every lesson and have to determine for themselves the best way to retrieve the information. "It makes it less of my responsibility," say Ulbrich.

From the instructor's perspective, there are many additional benefits. Watching the recorded lectures allows teachers to experience class from a student's perspective. Instructors can refer back to the recordings in order to pinpoint weaknesses and improve their teaching ability. Instructors who must be absent due to illness or travel may also benefit from this system. One history professor at CU Boulder was able to use Lecture Capture to prerecord her lessons and have them shown in class during a long absence.

So what are the drawbacks? Some instructors worry that Lecture Capture will discourage students from attending class. Although regular attendance may not be an issue in large auditorium classes, smaller discussion classes may benefit from engaged dialogue. There are also some technical issues that still need resolving. Because audio playback can sometimes begin after video playback has already started, "students come to the video and think it's broken," says Ulbrich. However, with a little advanced warning, this problem is a minor one.

The most pressing issue is simply that there are too few classrooms to go around. "I'm kind of bummed that I don't have [a Lecture Capture classroom] this semester," says Ulbrich. This fall, she has been using a laptop recorder and Camtasia Relay software to continue recording her lessons, but this process is more time-consuming. Ulbrich encourages all instructors to try Lecture Capture and she has a similar message for students. "This is a tool that is available to you," she says "and you really need to take advantage of that."

Article By: Stephanie Hayden and Ashley Williams

[1] Camtasia Relay is lecture recording software that allows the viewer to jump directly to specific content through a simple word or phrase search on the sidebar. A table of contents allows the viewer to skip directly to relevant information without having to waste time fast-forwarding or re-winding, and closed captioning capabilities makes the content available for almost anyone to use. Students can access the videos from their iPods, iPhones, or iPads .