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Event report: ‘Beyond Lecture Recording’

25 January 2013

Abbie Willett and Andrew Bishop, School Support Officers in the UCL Centre for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching (CALT), report on the ideas presented at the ‘Beyond Lecture Recording’ lunchtime workshop held last week.

Students working together at a computer

With the snow beginning to fall as we trekked across campus, we wondered how many people would venture out from their warm offices and make their way down the labyrinth of corridors that lead to the Denys Holland Lecture Theatre. Quite a lot, as it turned out.

By 1.05pm the room was full of colleagues from across UCL and so, as we took our seats armed with a plate of College’s finest sandwiches, the first in a series of e-learning workshops hosted jointly by CALT and E-Learning Environments (ELE) began.

The Summits and Horizons series intends to show how e-learning has improved teaching and learning for colleagues at UCL as well as look at the technologies that are likely to become significant for staff and students over the coming years.

Wednesday’s workshop, introduced by Dr Nick Grindle (Senior Teaching Fellow, CALT), looked at going ‘Beyond Lecture Recording’*. ‘Lecture recording’ and ‘Lecturecast’ are not exactly inspiring terms, something to which Dr Clive Young (ELE) drew attention in the second talk of the session. For a tool that should be dynamic, the terminology, technology and time commitment can be off-putting.

However, listening to Carl Gombrich (Programme Director, BASc) and Sylvia Moes (Projects and Innovations Manager, VU University, Amsterdam) talk so enthusiastically it quickly became apparent that using this technology can enrich and improve the quality of contact hours between students and their lecturers, breathing new life into the teaching and learning experience.

The idea of ‘quality’ of contact time is what Lecture Capture is about. E-learning is not there to add another time-hassle to already busy lives, but rather to make the best of the available time for the benefit of students. Students pay a lot of money to come to university and want quality contact with experts in their field but this does not necessarily have to mean more contact hours – it could simply mean greater engagement.

Lecture-flipping’ is the teaching method used by Carl Gombrich on UCL’s flagship BASc course, which welcomed its first intake of 84 students back in September. It involves the teacher pre-recording the lecture and uploading the video and slides to the web prior to the allotted lecture slot, allowing students to watch the lecture in advance so the teaching time can instead be used for a discussion session in which students can get to grips with the content in a dialogue with other students and the lecturer. In Carl’s case, he asks the students each to upload a question to Moodle prior to the class, ensuring that they have properly engaged with the material. Used in this way, lecture-flipping provides a form of ‘community learning’ – and the research shows that it has no detrimental impact on attendance.

It’s important to note that lecture-flipping is not for everyone and is not right for all situations – it might not be necessary for a class of 15, or be unworkable in a cohort of 250. Carl was emphatic that you need to find the tools you are most comfortable with and use them in a way that works for you. Using technology sparingly, and in the right places, is far better than swamping a course in technology and losing sight of its purpose. The Summits and Horizons events provide an opportunity to listen to people talk openly about their experiences and it was reassuring to hear someone like Carl, who has led the way with lecture-flipping at UCL, talk about his continued discomfort in front of the camera despite the success he’s had with it.

No one is shying away from the realities of blending these e-learning tools into traditional learning environments. It will take time to set some of these things up, to introduce students to these new ways of learning and for them to understand how they can get something meaningful out of the process – but what is clear is the benefit to students.

Carl concluded that getting the best out of Lecture Capture and the students was about “creating a culture”. It seems, based on the experiences of all of Wednesday’s speakers, that Lecture Capture is an important technology, but not one that will replace face-to-face contact. Rather it will aid introductions, whether to people or content. Interactivity transcends the recording. Once those introductions are made, it’s for us to move forward and beyond.

Summits and Horizons? We now have a sense of the summit and Wednesday’s speakers gave us a hint of what the horizon might look like. It will be interesting to see how these sessions progress, starting with February’s workshop on mobile technologies.

*It is possible to record lectures as they happen in several UCL teaching spaces but this workshop looked at alternative ways of using lecture-recording technology.

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Page last modified on 25 jan 13 14:07

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