Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lecture Capture Technology

Steve Wheeler writing in his blog asks the question about the use of lecture capture technology: is it "opening up a Pandora's box of trouble?". He speaks as someone who is "very comfortable with being recorded, live streamed, tweeted and even live blogged if it will improve students' chances and enrich their learning". I don't have a problem with this either, though I have yet to find students tweeting about me or my class. This kind of "back chat" has great value in my opinion and should be encouraged. I still dislike seeing signs in lecture theatres telling students to turn off their mobile phones. Many of my students are using their laptops/smartphones in class - while I suspect YouTube and Facebook is being accessed, they could actually be on Twitter or email sharing and discussing class material or other College work.

The average professor speaks at 120 words per minute, but students write around 20 words”, according to Isaac Segal, of Tegrity - a company which provides lecture capture technology. The message is to use technology to record/capture a lecture and let the students concentrate on what's being said rather than spending the time taking notes. To me this makes a lot of sense. In fact I'd go so far as to say that there is merit in recording a lecture before a class, and then using the class time for practical work, debate, and discussion. It might make sense to have a short quiz at the beginning of such classes to ensure that the students have watched/listened to the recorded lecture. If the quiz is marked - they will watch/listen.

There are people who have difficulty with the use of technology in the classroom - as Steve Wheeler puts it "some lecturers are uneasy about exposing their ideas and content to an outside audience". But we must move with the times. It's not that long ago that VLEs like Moodle were introduced, and now it is standard practice to place notes on-line. I'm sure that there were objections to blackboard's being introduced into the classroom back in the 19th century. Take a look at the following comment which I have taken from an article available from the Freie Universitat Berlin website:

In 1855, the abolitionist Samuel Joseph May wrote about the introduction of the blackboard to classrooms, being at his time the most modern instruction technology: the winter of 1813 & ’14, during my first College vacations, I attended a mathematical school kept in Boston by the Rev. Francis Xavier Brosius. On entering his room, we were struck at the appearance of an ample Black Board suspended on the wall, with lumps of chalk on a ledge below, and cloths hanging at either side. I had never heard of such a thing before. There it was forty-two years ago that I first saw what now I trust is considered indispensable in every school the Black Board and there that I first witnessed the process of analytical and inductive teaching.

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