Figure 2 - Exhibit and lunch area
Figure 2 - Exhibit and lunch area

Highlights from ‘Lecture Capture – Doing it well and at scale’

The recent ALT conference on Lecture Capture – Doing it well and at scale took place on the 16th June 2011 and was kindly hosted by Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL). This was an enjoyable and packed one day event, consisting of guest presenters’ experiences using a variety of lecture capture systems, short presentations from a variety of learning technology vendors and chances to speak informally with and network with like-minded colleagues.

Figure 1 - Photo of delegates during lunch break in the QMUL Octagon
Figure 1 – Photo of delegates during lunch break in the QMUL Octagon

There were 106 delegates from around the UK, with the majority representing Higher Education (HE) institutions. The Twitter hashtag #altlc was well used with over 600 tweets during the day; one delegate posted over 100 tweets [1]. The popularity of the event and energy evident on the day highlighted the interest and need for further events on this subject area.

Before the presentations began, there was an interesting session where vendors gave a short introduction to their product and invited delegates for further conversation over lunch in the exhibit area. This gave a really good basis for the rest of the day.

Figure 2 - Exhibit and lunch area
Figure 2 – Exhibit and lunch area

Rolling out institutional systems

The first part of the morning session looked at how two institutions had rolled out and scaled up their use of lecture capture. The first presentation was by Eoin McDonnell from the host institution.

Figure 3 - Eoin McDonnell, Queen Mary, University of London
Figure 3 – Eoin McDonnell, Queen Mary, University of London

QMUL uses the Echo360 system and Eoin gave an in-depth view of some of the issues encountered when setting up and using the system. Some of the concerns relating to lecture capture included academic staff’s fear of performance, copyright and academic freedom, and through his work on the project Eoin was perceived to be an “instrument of senior management”. There was “naked hostility” and heavy strength of opinion, some academic staff loved Echo360 and some were very much opposed. On the plus side, the student opinion was good and this increased the positive student experience.

The next presentation was by Kris Roger from the London School of Economics (LSE).

Figure 4 - Kris Roger, London School of Economics
Figure 4 – Kris Roger, London School of Economics

Kris gave a really good history of lecture capture at LSE detailing the path from using a VCR in 2003 to a full-scale lecture capture system. Lecture capture is available on an opt-in basis, there is a five year plan to grow and build into the business continuity strategy (including contingency for swine flu and snow). Lecture capture is available in 40 classrooms, 50% of students have access and there are 11,000 viewings per week. There is a minimum specification for new classrooms. At LSE they keep recordings for one year, and have found lecture capture particularly useful for students with English as a second language. Lecturer fears include concerns that students are being spoon-fed and that students may re-distribute footage on YouTube.

Lecture recording in the Sciences

The second part of the morning session focussed on the use of lecture recordings in Physics and Chemistry. Next to present were Marco Zennaro and Enrique Canessa from the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP).

Figure 5 - Marco Zennaro and Enrique Canessa, International Centre for Theoretical Physics
Figure 5 – Marco Zennaro and Enrique Canessa, International Centre for Theoretical Physics

The mixed media delivery of Physics teaching causes problems with traditional lecture capture systems, so ICTP felt there was a need to develop their own. The specific requirements included a system which would capture audio, video, screen, chalk board and transparencies. They developed their own lecture capture system called EyA (Enhance your Audience) which allows archiving and sharing of traditional lectures and presentations and have also released an open source version OpenEyA ( The system takes a photo of the chalk board every 15 seconds, which when played back can be zoomed into. This feature really impressed the audience. The recordings are made available as either Quicktime or Flash and can also be provided as a zip file. The software also provides the ability to schedule recordings and to automatically publish the resulting files. In terms of usage there are 7,551 hours of recorded content in Physics and Mathematics freely available online ( There are more than 70 lecturers participating in the project. An interesting statistic was that for every person who attends ICTP in person there are ten people accessing the recordings from around the world.

The final morning presentation was given by Neil Berry from the University of Liverpool.

Figure 6 - Neil Berry, University of Liverpool
Figure 6 – Neil Berry, University of Liverpool

Neil reported on a Higher Education Academy (HEA) project recording lectures (capturing screen and audio but no video) in the Chemistry department. The aim of the project was to get at least ten academic staff members to regularly record their lectures and they succeeded in getting twelve to do so. Neil reported that there was a need to assist students with diverse learning styles and student engagement. Lecturers were concerned about attendance, and that the recordings might be used as evidence against them; for example if there was a factual error in the recording. Student feedback was very positive, noticeably so from students on industrial placements. In addition it was noticed that students referred to lecture recordings after the course had finished and during exam times.

Practical Guidance for Lecture Capture

The theme of the afternoon was “Practical Guidance for Lecture Capture”. The session was started off by Juliet Hinrichsen and Amanda Hardy from Coventry University presenting on staff development challenges in supporting lecture capture.

Figure 7 - Juliet Hinrichsen and Amanda Hardy, Coventry University
Figure 7 – Juliet Hinrichsen and Amanda Hardy, Coventry University

A frisson of excitement went through the audience as TurningPoint clickers were handed out. This presentation was slightly different in the fact that it took a view more broadly across the HE sector through Coventry’s involvement in the JISC funded ELTAC (Enhancing Lectures Through Automated Capture) project, a part of which was focused on providing support resources in this area to the sector as a whole. Amanda presented the outcomes of a workshop that they ran at ALT-C 2010 which highlighted the range of barriers that were perceived in lecture capture, organized under the headings of technical issues, culture, staff attitudes, managerial and ownership. Each of these headings was then discussed with the audience. The audience was then given the opportunity to vote on one issue in each area, while Juliet provided us with some detailed information in the form of quotes from practitioners across the sector. This highlighted some of the very real and diverse issues involved and the areas in which staff development could have a role to play. Juliet and Amanda then showcased their excellent staff development framework, which comprised workshops, exemplars and online materials delivered via the ELTAC Support for Lecture Capture website. All materials are available under a creative commons license to be used and adapted by other organizations in their staff development programs.

Next we entered the world of pedagogy with John Conway from Imperial College London and Clive Young from UCL presenting on “Learning through Lecture Capture”.

Figure 8 - John Conway, Imperial College London and Clive Young, UCL
Figure 8 – John Conway, Imperial College London and Clive Young, UCL

John and Clive are co-founding members of the ALT ViTAL (Video in Teaching and Learning) special interest group. John first gave us an outline of the aims of ViTAL to create a community of video educators, to share best practice and promote sound pedagogic principles and to provide practical guidance on issues such as copyright, IPR and accessibility. Clive then took a look at lecture capture through the lens of the “4 I’s framework”; the 4 I’s being Image, Interactivity, Interaction and Input. This is the extension of a framework developed some years ago through a JISC project called “Click and Go Video”, the extension being “Input” to allow for the rise of social media in recent years. Clive covered some interesting areas especially under the I’s of Interactivity and Input. In the former, asking the question does lecture capture merely reinforce a transmission model of learning and in the latter examining how the rise of social media and user generated content has changed the way in which video can be used in education. The clickers were put into use briefly again at the end of this presentation at which stage we found that the teaching staff appeared to have “left the building”.

The final presentation of the day was on the issues of copyright and intellectual property rights (IPR), delivered by Graham McElearney from the University of Sheffield.

Figure 9 - Graham McElearney, University of Sheffield
Figure 9 – Graham McElearney, University of Sheffield

At the beginning of his presentation, Graham highlighted that the issues in this area have some potentially serious implications, and that those who end up having to deal with them are support staff such as Learning Technologists. Given the demographic of conference delegates this really struck a chord. For those staff, the feeling of responsibility in providing the correct answers in such a sensitive area can be overwhelming. Graham then highlighted areas where we may need to focus our attention. Staff have to think about how they protect both themselves and their institutions through a framework of clear guidance, visible to teaching staff and with terms and conditions to which lecture capture service users must agree. There must be a clear route to allow rights holders to report infringements and an explicit take down policy. We all also need to be aware of how our institutions will view infringement, will they protect their staff? After a brief discussion of the copyright issues associated with various media types Graham then addressed one of the issues that is most particular to lecture capture, performers’ rights. Despite the general perception that performers’ rights are ambiguous, Graham’s assertion was that, legally, the situation is simple. A lecture is a performance and teaching staff have the right not to be recorded and the right to veto the use of any recording. Furthermore, this could also apply to students. In the current climate of cuts and closures it is easy to see why teaching staff may feel very vulnerable, making this an area where “naked hostility” to lecture capture could breed. Graham outlined Sheffield’s approach in this area, which was to ensure that staff licensed their performance rights for the duration of their employment only, in contrast to assigning their rights which would allow their recordings to be used in perpetuity. This affords staff a degree of protection. Graham provided links to a number of very useful resources including the forms used by Sheffield to obtain staff permission for recording and a very nice example slide, courtesy of Adam Warren from the University of Southampton, for teaching staff to show at the beginning of a lecture which is being recorded.

ALT piloted the use of Adobe Connect to record the presentations and have made these available on the ALT Lecture Capture event webpage.


All photos are copyright of Graham McElearney and have been used with permission.

[1] Twitter statistics collated by Martin Hawksey (

Caroline Dobson-Davies, Learning Technologist
London Metropolitan University

Gill Ritchie, E-Learning Services Manager
Queen Mary, University of London

Mimi Weiss Johnson, Senior E-learning Support Officer
Imperial College London

If you enjoyed reading this article we invite you to join the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) as an individual member, and to encourage your own organisation to join ALT as an organisational or sponsoring member.

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