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My university is about to roll-out a Lecture Capture system (Panopto in this case), and I am in the business of promoting and supporting it. In case it makes a difference, I am in the UK. I suppose there might be some degree of cultural specificity here, but my suspicion at this point is that the technical environment is a more significant factor.

In principle (being something of a hardened technophile by nature) I have no problem with championing this kind of system, but I want to be able to anticipate both the opportunities AND the challenges that it represents.

Therefore I am interested in people's direct experience and/or theoretical observations concerning the real-world consequences of adopting such a system, AND in the real enthusiasms and anxieties (even if they are ill-founded) that such an adoption tends to raise. Those will be real and must be managed positively, whether or not they are initially well-informed.

For example, I am pretty sure that such systems can be used poorly, just consuming effort without observable benefit. I can imagine them generating perceived requirements that achieve little, imposed for political reasons by administrators who neither use nor understand them. (I am not at all prejudiced against university administrators as a group: I am a long-time administrator, and only more recently an active teaching academic as well.) In turn this might conceivably increase the pressure of fee-paying student demand ('I want you to do it like this...') perhaps without really benefiting anyone at all.

On the other hand, I can also easily imagine the possibility of enhanced and enriched educational delivery, presumably with a suitably tuned sort of preparation.

Most broadly, my immediate instinct is that use of this kind of system will necessitate at least some extra considerations (and presumably effort) in preparation... but that a well-planned implementation could pay off in terms like scaleability of provision and replicability of material.

Then again, that also seems automatically to raise the idea of maintenance. In a way it's rather lovely to think that a 'captured' lecture could just be presented over and over again... but in practice both the subject matter and the institutional context (course structure, audience, whatever) will change over time. Surely there will be conflicting pressures to create material that will last through many presentations, but also to update it dynamically from one presentation to another. Even if we have the time and resources to do that, how do we do it with credibility, when (for example) I might go grey from one year to the next (that happened), or might simply no longer possess that jacket?

So... As a long-time technogeek (I have built all of my own PCs, for 25 years) I am vividly aware that simply adopting a potentially clever system does not intrinsically produce cleverness, and might in fact produce nothing but headaches. At best, it seems inevitable that niggles like my guesses above will arise. At worst, decommitting from a poorly-conceived implementation and its associated expectations can be costly and even catastrophic.

Pretty much the whole point of asking this group this question is that I am bound to have missed loads of issues or possibilities; and the ones that I have thought of so far might not be the most important ones at all.

Any observations specific to Panopto would be splendid, of course, but I am also interested in the cultural effect (and/or comparisons) of any analogous systems. I will welcome both idealistic and suspicious assessments, anything from hymns of praise to bitter war-stories. In the end, the well-being of thousands of students will depend on us getting this right, so we need to get it right for staff from the beginning as well.

  • Apart from everything else, a bank of recorded lectures, even if not wonderful, give administration a potential excuse to reduce staff and just replay lectures. Relatedly, who will "own" the intellectural property rights? – paul garrett Feb 2 '16 at 18:11
  • I think this is backward. You have already reached a conclusion ("I am in the business of promoting [..] it"), and ask for what for the implications of doing what you are about to do. – Boris Bukh Feb 2 '16 at 19:00
  • @BorisBukh -- yes and no. I mean that it is my professional duty (whether I like it or not) to support the implementation decision that has already been made, by others. The fact that I do happen to like it (at least for its potential, on balance) is not as important as understanding as well as possible the pros and cons of what we are (as you say) about to do. I tried to show in my initial remarks that there must be both opportunities and traps available here, so I am seeking a range of real-world and/or purely theoretical perspectives. Perhaps I have not been properly clear about that...? – Captain Cranium Feb 2 '16 at 19:25
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    In that case, ask whomever ordered you to implement this for justification --- surely, there must have been a decision process that involved figuring out pros and cons. That will make it easier for you to sell the change, and save you the extra work of figuring it on your own. (For example, paul garrett's concern should have been handled by your legal department, not amateurs.) – Boris Bukh Feb 2 '16 at 19:47
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    At my univ currently, written material, whether for courses or on-line or traditionally published or whatever, is essentially owned by faculty. Part of this is that no regular faculty seem to be "commanded" to create course material, since it's a "research univ". Some years ago I had a disagreement about IP rights for potential videos of my teaching a very popular class, and the univ would not make any deal in that regard. But textbooks, lecture notes, etc., are still ... good. I realize it is different elsewhere. – paul garrett Feb 2 '16 at 20:25
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In my institution, lecture capture, though not with Panopto, has been going on for many years. We have policies in place to address such concerns. There are, as you note, also opportunities.

Issue 1: availability of the captured lectures to students

If students are enrolled in a traditional face-to-face (F2F) course, why do they need access to captured lectures? If your institution is (or plans to) offer distance education courses to off-campus students, make the captured lectures available only to them. Of course, if you have instructors who would like to try the flipped classroom model, where F2F students watch the lectures before class meets and then do the work (assignments, group projects, etc.) with the faculty member facilitating during class time, there would be exceptions.

Issue 2: Maintenance of recorded lectures

We have developed policies and purchased professional recording equipment to help ensure quality. In addition, faculty are not allowed to use captured lectures for longer than 3 years. Some subjects, such as computer science, for example, change so frequently that 3 years is much too long. Those might be re-recorded each semester. Alternatively, these faculty may tailor most of the lecture to more timeless topics, then record "update" videos to include the latest news and research in their subject area. This is possible in our institution because we provide recording studios for faculty use, so F2F students don't have to watch the "canned" version of the lecture. Since we use our recorded lectures for distance students (except for the occasional flipped class - I can think of only one of those currently offered, off the top of my head), they get both the "canned" or generic lecture plus the freshly recorded update videos. We provide "re-development" stipends to faculty to offset the additional time required to re-record every 3 years.

Issue 3: Quality

Because few of those who will be capturing their own lectures have education or experience in lighting, design, and the like, it is most helpful to provide them with training and/or "tip sheets" on the best recording situations. We've had more than one professor capture lecture using a webcam in a dark room with a bright sunlit window behind the instructor, resulting in very poor quality. They may also be too far from the on-camera mic and produce low-quality audio, which is also frustrating to students, and rightly so.

Another quality issue to consider is length of the video you provide to students (for whatever reason). Research on instructional video favors segments of 10 minutes or less. Sign up for a free Coursera course and you'll likely see this in use. If you're capturing live lecture in a classroom setting, breaking the lecture into 10 minute segments is jarring for the viewer unless the lecturer has prepared for it. He or she should locate stopping points at the end of a topic, sub-topic, or example, and employ a transition (pre-communicated to the video team) to switch topics. One research-backed way to do this is to stop and ask a handful of review questions to increase student mastery. Panopto, according to their website, allows the addition of interactive quizzes quizzes to facilitate this practice for online learners.

Issue 4: "Replacing" faculty Our institution does wish to use the video of a professor who is no longer at the institution. Our instructional videos are primarily used for online/distance instruction, which is delivered through a Learning Management System (LMS). The instructor is the primary developer of the online course, with support from staff and teaching/graduate assistants. Student evaluations have shown that students are confused and frustrated when "Professor Smith" is the instructor of record, but retired "Professor Martin's" lecture videos are utilized in such a course. Because we host our own video on our own servers, video is deleted when no longer needed. I presume you could do the same on Panopto.

One opportunity related to the implementation of this system is increasing offerings and enrollment in distance education courses (or, if your institution doesn't offer such courses yet, implementing such a program). This could be a most helpful source of additional revenue for the university and for non-traditional students who cannot attend F2F courses.

I'd recommend joining an organization like the Online Learning Consortium to have training and discussion opportunities about such topics with other administrators of online learning programs. This will help shorten the learning curve.

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    Re/Issue 1. Students in face to face classes really appreciate having the opportunity to review parts of a lecture after the fact. For example, you'll see huge increases in the viewing of the videos just before an exam or final exam. – Brian Borchers Feb 4 '16 at 1:11
  • Thank you both (inc. @BrianBorchers) for these very thoughtful breakdowns of relevant issues. You have given me a lot to think about, and a good basis for structuring it. Very much appreciated. – Captain Cranium Feb 20 '16 at 11:01
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I was involved in the installation of lecture capture systems in many of the classrooms on our campus with funding from a grant from the US Department of Education. Overall, this has been a very positive addition, and both students and faculty seem to be happy that we've introduced the technology. However, there were and are some concerns.

Student concerns. The lecture capture system records in-class discussion. Some students have been concerned about their privacy, but a policy that the lecture capture recordings will only be used for the current system and be made available only to students in the class takes care of most of this concern. A related privacy issue is that instructors should be careful not to have sensitive discussions with students (e.g. about grades, absences from class, etc.) while the system is turned on- this could easily lead to FERPA violations.

Faculty concerns. Some faculty were concerned that students would stop attending class if recordings were available. Our experience has been that having lecture capture recordings available to students has little or no effect on attendance. Faculty have also been concerned that the recordings would be used in ways that they didn't approve of (e.g. for administrative evaluation of teaching or to offer the course to other students without paying the faculty member to teach the course.) You should have clear policies in place to address these concerns.

A major faculty concern had to do with how they present written content in the lecture. For practical reasons, video recordings of material written on a blackboard (with chalk) or a whiteboard (with dry erase markers) simply don't work well with lecture capture systems. Some faculty simply use prepared slides for their lectures. An alternative (the one that I use) is to write the lecture material on a tablet or digitizing display. Some folks use a document camera and write notes on pieces of paper that are displayed by the document camera.

Distance ed concerns. Instructors and students can use lecture capture recordings as an informal way to have distance education courses without official permission. This might not be acceptable to your administration or your accrediting body (or the US DoED- such a course would count as a "correspondence course" because of the lack of two regularly scheduled two way interaction with the student) but there's no good technical way to prevent it from happening.

  • I am concerned not to seem unappreciative of this. It seems an excellent framing of some types of issue, and has certainly got me thinking. Sadly I am now in the throes of a marking crisis, worsened by Other Stuff suddenly appearing with Perfect Timing. I recognise the thought that has gone into framing this, anyway, and I will reflect on all elements. For one thing, I have seen elsewhere statistical claims that this makes zero difference to attendance, making it a bit odd that anyone should do it at all. I have also seen a claim that it even increases attendance, which sounds like magic. – Captain Cranium Feb 3 '16 at 13:30
  • Students typically prefer to attend class and then selectively use the lecture capture videos after class to go over points in the lecture that were unclear (or just plain wrong!) I've been surprised by the number of minor errors in lecture that would have gone unnoticed in the past that students are now finding in the lecture capture videos. – Brian Borchers Feb 3 '16 at 15:26

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