Lecture Capture Can Change Classroom Dynamics for the Better

When I heard a teacher tell me that they were creating recorded lectures for courses as homework assignments and spending classroom time on discussions and more active learning, I knew right then the value of the lecture capture tools.

Lecture capture technologies are not new to education. The enterprise solutions that exist are amazing and powerful. Tegrity, Echo 360, Sonic Foundry, Camtasia Relay, Wimba, and Elluminate have all had a hand in the market for some time and they all provide an opportunity for teachers to record content that students can access in a variety of formats and locations. Additionally, there are a number of free tools on the market that allow instructors to narrate anything on their computer screen are valuable tools in any classroom environment.

Changing classroom dynamics
One of the early epiphanies these tools provided was that students who missed a class could “make-up” the lecture and not fall behind. Additionally, students could review the lecture as many times as they needed to understand the material. Both of these scenarios are real and are truly useful to students. But I think that there is an even better use of the tools that I hope will have a larger impact on what happens in classrooms.

By capturing the lecture portions of classes and assigning them as homework, we can use class time to discuss the material and get any questions clarified. In hybrid courses this option is very appealing as it allows teachers and students to make the most of the time they have together to interact with the content in a way that a traditional lecture may not.

Teachers who teach multiple sections of a course in hybrid, fully online, and face-to-face environments may find the rewards of capturing lectures most beneficial. They can record the lectures given in their face-to-face class and use them as the homework or lecture portions of the online sections. Recordings of live classroom lectures often have a different feel to them than the ones that teachers record in their offices or at home, and typically require no additional work on behalf of the presenter.

Creating bite-sized lectures
While enterprise-class lecture capture system deliver impressive results when integrated into a smart classroom, more interesting to me are some of the free and nearly free tools available to capture lecture material. You can record 15 minutes of you talking into a camera and upload it to YouTube, for free. Products like Jing and Screencast, Screenr, and Screencast-o-matic are just a few of the many tools that can capture whatever is on your screen and share it with students, or anyone. These tools are often very flexible in sharing options and you can also store the content created locally on your machine and upload into LMS environments if you wish.

Talking to a computer screen takes some getting used to — the live audience makes us behave a bit differently I suppose — but for me, as an instructional designer, the benefits are quite powerful. One of the comments I hear from teachers is that they create shorter lectures when recording them from offices or home compared to capturing complete live lectures. And that is a good thing. People can only handle so much video online before they begin to lose focus. I try to get teachers to mix up shorter lectures with other activities. Perhaps 10 minutes of lecture followed by a writing or reading activity, before coming back for another short lecture.

This is one of the greatest challenges for instructional designers is selling the message of shorter “chunked” material in online courses when for many years we have based the classroom experience on hour-long lecture type models. Many instructors who were early adopters of lecture capture technology simply recorded their traditional lectures and added them to their courses. Getting them to recreate lectures and break them into smaller chunks with activities in between is not always easy.

Lecture capture technologies will continue to enhance the availability of online content for students in all course types and provide instructors with a means of sharing course content and materials with students. Our challenge as educators is to use the tools well, and in a way that will most benefit the learner.

Free Tools (just a few of many)
Screenr: http://www.screenr.com/
Jing: http://www.techsmith.com/Jing/
Screencast-o-matic: http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/

Enterprise Lecture Capture Solutions
Camtasia Relay: http://www.techsmith.com/camtasiarelay
Tegrity: http://www.tegrity.com/
Mediasite by Sonic Foundry: http://www.sonicfoundry.com/mediasite
Echo360: http://echo360.com/
Elluminate: http://www.elluminate.com/
Wimba: http://www.wimba.com/
Wimba and Elluminate are now part of Blackboard Collaborate: http://www.blackboard.com/Collaborate/

Todd Conaway is an instructional designer at Yavapai College, Arizona.