Teacher-Driven Technology II: A Case for Lecture Capture

CONWAY, Ark. (November 7, 2013) – Hendrix faculty members now have an inexpensive and easy way to record class content for students.

“Lecture capture,” as it’s called, is not new technology per se. But an affordable solution was elusive until Google Hangouts was introduced, according to Hendrix Chief Information Officer David J. Hinson.

“Google Hangouts on Air provides a simple, straightforward way to record and broadcast high-definition classroom content,” Hinson said. “It also allows us to affordably support anyone and everyone wishing to use lecture capture on campus.”

Hendrix biology professor Dr. Rick Murray piloted a commercial lecture capture software package for his genetics course, a sophomore-level biology course, a couple of years ago. At that time, the majority of students didn’t take advantage of it, but a handful of students thought it was great, Murray said.

While the third-party commercial software was too expensive to justify its purchase, using Google Hangouts and YouTube is free.

And it’s relatively easy to operate, Murray said.

“I just push a button at the beginning of class to record the lecture and record what students see on the Smartboard,” he explained. “At the end of class, there’s a video file for students to go back to … I think there’s real value there.”

“For courses with tough concepts and unfamiliar terminology, revisiting lectures can help solve problems for students,” he added. “It’s quite a good resource for them.”

Murray had to modify his teaching a bit and learn to use the Smartboard to do his chalkboard work. He also had to overcome some minor stage fright.

“I think it was mostly psychological because I had some personal reluctance,” he said. “It’s unnerving to have what you say recorded.”

Using lecture capture shouldn’t be seen as the first step toward exclusively online courses either, Murray said.

“I don’t think it’s leading to a MOOC [massive open online course] because I don’t think lecture is the same as a presentation,” he said. “Lecture is a very dynamic thing based on student questions.”

The videos would be useless to another class unless they are in on the context of the lecture and student questions. Not that the videos are available to the rest of the world. The lecture videos are unlisted. Using Moodle (the College’s learning management system), Murray can make the private links available to his students only.

So far, students don’t seem to view lecture capture as an opportunity to miss class, Murray said.

“I don’t see a decrease in attendance,” he said, adding that the videos can be helpful if a student has to miss a class for an athletic or other activity.

Through YouTube, Murray can check the number of views each lecture has to know how many students are taking advantage of the technology. About a third of his students check them out, he said.

“It’s not a replacement. It’s a backup,” he added. “The ‘capture’ aspect only makes sense for someone with previous context.”

Lecture capture technology can also be used in addition to classroom material. For example, Murray has used it to record a seminar on campus given by a Hendrix graduate working at the National Institutes of Health.  

“I don’t need technology to teach effectively. It’s not necessary to the actual enterprise of teaching. But it’s a positive experience overall and a wonderful resource with a subset of students and for outside guest speakers,” he said. “I think technology should be a natural extension of pedagogy. I use it because I think my students can benefit further from it.”  

“Is it the best way for student to learn? Not necessarily,” he said. “But if it enhances the teaching of a course, by all means, use it.”

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the sixth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country’s “Up and Coming” liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report.  Hendrix is featured in the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, as well as the 2014 Princeton Review’s The Best 378 Colleges, Forbes magazine's list of America's Top Colleges, and the 2014 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu.