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Learning Technologists @ Leeds – a chat about Lecture Capture and more #uoltech #edtech

February 20, 2011

I am fortunate enough to be part of the Learning Technologists network at the University of Leeds. I see this as a perfect opportunity for informal learning, catching up with friends, and making new ones. It’s been suggested we start meeting in a pub, but however conducive to informal sharing that may be, it’s not ideal if you are trying to do some wacky demos with Kinect controllers connected to computers, for instance. So I think we’ll stay where we are for the moment (besides, it gives me a chance to bring cakes to the meetings, which may look a bit odd next to a pint of bitter…)

Anyway: here is the overdue account of our last meeting for colleagues who couldn’t make it but would like to stay up-to-date. The topic was lecture capture: recording a lecturer’s performance and making it available to his/her students / colleagues afterwards. As a starting point, there were a number of online sessions JISC had held on this topic. I also caught word of a similar event held by the ViTAL special interest group. Finally, members of the Leeds Learning Technologists network had their own experience with screencasting (Camtasia, Captivate, Screenr, JING, Windows Media Encoder 9, etc. are all solutions we’ve been working with already) and lecture capture (the Faculty of Engineering had piloted ECHO 360 and I am currently looking after another pilot using Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro).

Q1: My initial question to the group was: did we find a) anything new; b) anything especially cool which we may have ignored for the wrong reasons; c) anything we’re doing already that others are doing, too (I get the feeling talking to my colleagues that we’re very good at coming up with creative ways to solve problems, but we’re so busy and eager to get on with helping with the next project that we don’t do a great job shouting about the cool stuff we do – and I’m sure this is not just typical to Leeds)

A: Colleagues around the table had found the discussion around sound recording devices especially useful in the 19 Jan session. Moreover, the JISC Legal Considerations regarding lecture capture were also found to be a very useful starting point for implementing a Leeds policy. Regarding the software used, it was reassuring to see that there wasn’t anything new for folks around the table.

If anything, some of the examples shown in the online sessions reinforced some of the questions we already had been pondering on as a group: while we acknowledge that capturing a session is a quick way of making revision materials available to students, there are many question marks associated with this practice which we didn’t feel the examples from the several institutions presenting addressed properly:

  • why were some folks quite particular about using separate tools for separate things? e.g. when I mentioned at on online event that we were using Connect Pro at Leeds for lecture capture, online supervision, marketing and tons more, some people asked how come because Connect Pro was an online classroom tool and that was it… which did make us smile in the room and wonder about innovation in the world … but we had some cake and got on with our business;
  • why it was necessary to have a video of the presenter filmed by a ceiling camera without any zoom; we happily traded this functionality for being able to use Connect Pro ad-hoc any time, anywhere;
  • why folks at other institutions were pushing lecture capture to their staff, but not encouraging them to become better presenters: a 2-hour video of someone moving around a desk changing slides is … well, there’s no other way to put it: pretty atrocious; what we’d seen at Leeds were lecturers who engaged with Connect Pro to start annotating their slides live and ad-hoc, as well as work on mind-maps, etc., with their students in the room. Moreover, our colleague from Biological Sciences Neil Morris (whose latest project involving iPads is causing quite a stir) has been encouraging his students to use the Connect Pro iPhone app to connect to the live session and ask questions anonymously – he then answers them at appropriate times in the lecture. Much better stuff to revise from or catch up with, wouldn’t you say?
  • the examples of using screencasts for feedback prompted some more sharing within the group, mainly how the Digitalis project at Leeds has been using this technology to encourage students to look at text more visually. The project uses screencasts first of all to model this process of critical and creative thought, and secondly to show how Photo Story 3 can be used to create a digital piece of media in which the words of the initial piece of text morph into powerful images.

Towards the end of the meeting, given that we’d all found it so useful, we started asking ourselves how we could expand it and make it more active face-to-face (the members are brilliant at helping each other out electronically, but it would also be really nice to be able to meet them and thank them in person). A few ideas were:

  • have this session simultaneously in the room and online to save members the travel time (although 10min of a brisk walk now and again can’t be so bad)
  • find ways to persuade management of the value of these meetings and so perhaps achieve their inclusion in a colleague’s personal development plan, alongside participation to conferences, training courses and online events
  • we’ll try them and see how well they work, but if anyone has already got any ideas, they would be highly appreciated

Speaking of training courses, the upcoming Netskills events (some of them very relevant to colleagues who would like a qualification in Instructional Design) were also highlighted.

That was it: fun, cakes and brilliant discussion from members. Looking forward to the next one 🙂

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2 Comments
  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on screencasting, it is always interesting to read about other peoples thoughts and uses. your sessions sound like the ones we have here At Bristol amongst the e-learning folk.

    Also Digitalis looks intriguing so i’ll look into that.

    I would love to find out more about your uses of Adobe connect as I used it loads in my last job.

    If I or the team can ever be of help just let us know.

  2. Hi, Zak. Good to hear about the LT@Bristol group and good luck keeping the members keen. Regarding Acrobat Connect Pro, given its extreme portability (and also the fact that, if the wireless connection fails, it will endeavour to keep you in the room silently rather than kick you out and make you sign in again) I’m encouraging people to use it for pretty much anything… Loving the functionality and at the moment the only question mark for me is the integration with Blackboard 9.1… haven’t seen that yet myself… What was your last job?

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