Cornock, M. (2015). Justifying lecture capture: the importance of student experiences in understanding the value of learning technologies. Extended paper, #867, ALT-C 2015 – Shaping the future of learning together. Annual Conference of the Association for Learning Technology, 8-10 September 2015, University of Manchester, UK. Abstract [PDF].
In this presentation I will explore issues relating to the justification of the use of lecture capture within a higher education institution. Lecture capture, in this study at least, refers to the automated recording and distribution of taught, face-to-face lectures. The recordings take the format of slides, or whatever is projected onto the lecture hall screen, and audio. In this study, video of the lecturer is not present.
Within institutions, student feedback seems to promote the use of lecture recordings with the notion that lectures themselves are important. In our last student union election, lecture capture was one of the lead manifesto policies of not just the successful academic officer, but his fellow contenders. [Survey] There have been identified clear benefits in terms of revision (Copely, 2007), supplementing note-taking (Leadbeater and colleagues, 2013) and controlling the pace of study (Gosper and colleagues, 2007). Whilst I do not deny these justifications appear coherent, these studies do not account for the differences in students attitudes, nor do they fully explore the rationales behind why students use lecture captures for activities such as revision. Indeed, with the survey-based studies, it is difficult to tease out the nuances in student studying behaviour, particularly important to consider as there are negligible differences in attainment. As such, there is a risk that these ideas self-perpetuate without further interrogation and analysis informed by the changing context of higher education.
The research questions I have explored through this project try to unpick student’s use of this new form of learning resource. Is it simply a case of wanting something offered for free, or is there more going on that means lecture capture has a bigger role to play in modern higher education than we realise? The focus then is on trying to establish the value, motivations and changes in behaviour that are associated with lecture capture.
With this in mind, the project specifically recruited regularly users of lecture capture. Instead of exploring whole cohorts, this targeted approach aimed to elicit models of studying behaviour that could both inform other students in their use of recordings and inform lecturers in their approaches to delivery and supporting of independent study. 12 participants were recruited from two science departments with established and on going use of lecture capture across their undergraduate programme. The diversity of students was limited, with the age range 18-22 years, only one international student and a bias of female participants 9 to 3 male. Each participant undertook an in depth interview, completed a diary of their use of lecture capture over a two-week period and permitted access to use their usage statistics from the lecture capture system. Three of the participants undertook a follow-up interview in the subsequent term.
The interview approach was to explore how and why lecture captures were being used. Unlike the quantitative studies, this enabled me to consider the external factors that may influence adoption of technology, the interplay between the degree programme and extracurricular activities. Within our own institution there is a growing emphasis on the student experience, the student journey and learning through not just degree programmes but learning through lived experiences, college activities, work experience and placements. As such, the semi-structured interviews started by finding out about students’ own commitments and their interests to get a picture of their decision-making and priorities. The questions then led onto where lecture capture fits into their studying processes, the value and role of it within this wider context. Students discussed prompted and unprompted on a range of topics including: course requirements, expectations they have of themselves and expectations they felt lecturing staff placed on them, attitudes to studying, personal interests, studying relationships and working with others, the personal situation, study environments and even career ambitions. It is not surprising then that the interview data immediately presented an obvious point…
Students are people too…
The use of lecture capture as a learning resource is influenced by factors outside of the control of the lecturer. It is often a glib remark to say how lecture capture affords flexibility, but one of the concepts that was repeated by more than one student related to the physical limitations of having to attend lecture after lecture on the same day. [J, interview] This particular student did not have a visible disability, yet the lecturer may presume that the student is not engaged. Some participants reported that when they get to the point in the day that they know they are not going to take much in, they make that judgement call and go home, recharge and watch the recording. Other students [G, interview] recognise the competing priorities that exist as part of their student experience. This is a theme that I hope to explore further in subsequent work, as I feel that the individual personal circumstances and competing pressures on students may be overlooked in their own justifications for using online, flexible resources and learning approaches such as lecture capture.
Moving into the lecture environment, the act of taking notes in class is regularly cited in the literature as a main driver for the use of lecture recordings. I wanted to explore further the relationship between note-taking, note-making and use of lecture recordings. Mark Huxham (2010) argued that students still tend to “record verbatim notes” and haven’t developed more sophisticated approaches. Huxham suggests that “the provision of partial notes (for example PowerPoint slides)… allow[s] more time for students to focus on key points and connections”. Yet, from my interviews with students, the pressure to capture all the points a lecturer is making is still prevalent. [K, interview] Recordings, as more than one student referred to them, “makes things a lot less stressful” [F, interview]. Some of the students planning to use recordings later when they discover their mind has wandered. However, the ability to relax, in turn may also be affecting students behaviour in class in support of their learning, demonstrating Donald Bligh’s (1998) ideas about providing time to think about the lecture content. This line of enquiry was followed through with the students I interviewed, and the ideas of being more engaged stem from a feeling of less pressure. Owston and colleagues (2011) through a survey-based study found half of their students were more likely to follow in class discussions and focus more on understanding and less on note-taking as a result of lecture capture provision. Students are able to make initial judgements as to whether they grasped the content by considering as one student said “the broader argument” [C, interview], and marking the handouts where to use the recording for follow-up work [I, interview]. Whilst the behaviours in lecture are self-reported by students, and indeed that caveat should not be taken lightly, it appears the knowledge of the provision of lecture capture holds the potential for student to be more ENGAGED. This might not necessarily mean more active.
Moving from the lecture room to the private study environment, it became clear in a number of cases that students placed significant value on their own notes generated from the lecture content. From this study students’ approaches both in and out of the lecture were diverse, using lecture hand outs in different ways. The approaches can be broadly categorised as: completing or “topping up” [K, interview] notes made in the lecture; generating a fresh set of notes after revisiting the lecture content; and formulating a definitive, distilled set of notes for revision. These approaches are not discrete, they may feed into each other and they will typically draw upon hand-written notes from the lecture, the lecture slides or handouts, additional reading, the core text, web searches and in some cases online discussion forums. Lecture recording is drawn upon in different ways through the creation of these notes, with no single approach being typified across the sample. Students use lecture capture in different ways. The use of lecture capture is INDIVIDUALISED.
As one example of the refinement process, this student kindly provided a scan of their notes, showing how their in-lecture note-taking was, as they described “more sparse and less useful for meaningful future revision. Terrible handwriting too.” This particular student described how they re-watched lectures from start to finish in order to create a second set of notes, pausing where needed. They used this process to check their own understanding, comparing what they missed in the first and second viewings. The second set of notes are clearly more legible, and perhaps whilst not more detailed address potential errors, for example the middle slide on the left has a list of a few words and this is now written out into a meaningful and unambiguous sentence. Such a study approach would not be possible without lecture capture, though alternative approaches that require more student effort exploring key texts and contacting the lecturer in order to address knowledge gaps clearly exist.
The value students place on creating clear and correct notes naturally translates into extended study time. Ford and colleagues in 2012 noted that students were spending a significant amount more on study time when lecture recordings were provided. Indeed some students recognised this as a potential procrastination activity [E, interview]. The argument about spending too much time on recordings is applicable to those students who miss a lecture, reporting they found it took much longer and so where possible try to attend. For those students who do watch whole recordings, they may spend over two hours per lecture [H, interview]. However, creation of notes is not simply the task being undertaken or the sole motivation. Students generally in interviews and in the diaries had a strong desire to at the very least be able to say they understand the content [B, diary]. Whilst it is difficult to actually pin down what the students mean by ‘understand’ this involved the active interrogation of the content, cross-referencing between difference sources and in some cases multiple lectures.
There is a question though as to whether simply formulating a definitive set of notes is perhaps the best use of student time? Is this a valid justification for lecture capture provision?
So, lecture capture supports note-taking, but does it support understanding? Proposing that there may be other forms of learning going on, the interview questions aimed to explore the processes of creating notes, where this is done, how and using what resources. There were a number of approaches that stood out going beyond completion of notes, perhaps more valuable uses of study time:
As shown through the hand-written note extract, one student explained how they watched the course content again to create a second set of notes. Other students reported using the speed playback to ensure they had their notes in the right order, or to show how sequentially developed ideas built up. Through this process they acknowledge and attempt to address knowledge gaps. The lecture capture supports these sorts of learning process providing the structure of the lecture from which private study hangs. Whilst no students made clear reference to the use of lecture captures in preparation for subsequent lectures, citing the time-intensive nature and desire just to keep on top of things, lecture captures were used to support the application of ideas to practicals and in report writing. As an example, student diaries show how statistical analysis concepts were reviewed in order to apply them to their practical lab work and project write ups. Lecture captures were used by some students to enable deeper learning of complex ideas. Whilst understanding is different from memorisation, some students explained how they would use lecture capture along with web resources and readings to get a grasp of a complex topic. The order in which resources are drawn upon varies between students and typically related to the creation of detailed notes. One student in particular made reference to the use of a quiz-making programme to self-check ideas from the lecture. The recording would be watched back to identify areas to self-test, which evolved from using the whole recording to just focusing on the Q&A sections at the end. Connecting ideas across lectures, the recordings allow students to go back and revisit where concepts or processes have been introduced and consider how they relate to subsequent ideas. As one student explained “you compare two things together and that’s quite good to be able to go and listen to the lectures back because you can listen to one lot and then the next one like where they compare the two.” [L, interview]
These behaviours were during term time. This is significant as literature tends to note the increase in use of recordings during revision windows. When asked specifically about revision windows, some students showed how they adopted a holistic approach to the module, by watching several lectures back-to-back in order to further make connections between concepts. As one student described, during term you are “in the thick of it” [C, second interview] whereas revision windows “you finally have space to then… start putting everything together” [C, second interview].
Whilst these may indeed be cases at the extreme of the self-motivated learner spectrum, there are some interesting practices that could be shared with other students. The question though is whether such approaches simply reinforce the idea of uncritical thinking, or they are in fact appropriate to the nature of science-based programmes which require delivery and understanding of new concepts in the early stage of the degree. After all, before a concept can be applied or evaluated it must first be introduced, if not understood. As these cases show, students are then appropriating lecture capture to their own study approach.
Students’ own approaches demonstrate their ability and adaptability for independent learning. An idea that may be worth exploring further is the potential for disconnect between the individual study practices and interaction or social learning, from the diaries most students used lecture recordings on their own although not all the time. If time is being spent focusing on lecture recordings and individualised interpretations of content, are students missing out on more interactive forms of learning? Newton cites two studies by Vajoczki and Powell suggesting a tendency for students to reduce their email contact with lecturers. Powell suggests this may be due to increased confidence with the content, but alternative perspectives such as the timeliness and desire for students to get on with the next thing may also be valid reasons [K, interview].
The idea of independence similarly follows as already suggested from students juggling a range of competing priorities. Here though, we are at risk of sending mixed messages to students around the role and utility of lecture capture. On the one hand we have an appreciation of the flexibility it affords students and how it can reduce queries about lecture content, but on the other we may be concerned about the consequences of flexibility leading to poor attendance or surface-level approaches to studying. These mixed messages stem from a view of the lecture that is devoid of social context, separated rather than integrated with students study, work and life balance. In this example [L, interview] a student has to participate in placement interviews for their year in industry, an integral part of the curriculum. Similar arguments were made about laboratory work that had to be attended at all times, and even the completion of summative assessments. Whilst the lecture course is obviously a core part of the study experience, there are decisions that students need to make about how they spend their time and where they go. What this research demonstrates is that students are making these decisions, judging that sometimes it makes sense to be in the lecture room and sometimes other things do take priority. This is adult behaviour and the ability to make such judgement calls are what we want graduates to be able to do. In essence, lecture capture supports the independence of independent learning.
However, this independence is clouded again with contrasting expectations. Within the interviews, students were asked why they used lecture capture over other resources. The comments that came back could be cause for concern and underline the reservations academic staff have over the use of lecture recordings. Phrases like “it’s just like another text book” [D, interview] seemed harmless enough, showing how the lecturer’s knowledge and expertise could be revisited and dipped in and out of when required by the student. However, the counter argument stems from attitudes relating to the primacy of lectures over all other content, what is the role of lectures in terms of inspiration, engagement, sparking interest? Not unjustifiably, some students recognised that the lecture content is what can be assessed, perhaps even informed this by lecturers themselves, why bother spending time looking at other resources [F, interview; I, interview], particularly if you have competing agendas for your time. One of the challenges of drawing upon undergraduate science students is that the programme content itself isn’t always dependent upon critical thought, or rather the criticality comes in during projects and assessment rather than in the lecture hall. There is a risk of almost unquestioned acceptance of lecture content [B, interview]. The deferral to the lecturer’s knowledge is perhaps a trait of the inexperienced student, rather than laziness or a strategic approach to studying, but at the same time this may go some way to explaining why some students value lecture recordings if they are essentially a quick win to a 2.1 in the assessment.
There are clear indications that the use of lecture captures, indeed lectures, requires support, and I appreciate these may be reiterating ideas previously expressed, for example by Donald Bligh’s ‘What’s the use of lectures?’. Exploring the preconceptions of effective studying shows how students make assumptions on the value of the lecture content, how concepts can be understood and the role of different forms of resources. Can we encourage students to move beyond attitudes linked to surface learning? [J, interview]
Lecture capture at a basic level allows for the lecture content to be accessed as easily as a text-book, this is something that is celebrated and of concern in equal measure. We need to help students realise that the lecture content is only the lecturer’s selected parts of the discipline and to draw upon wider resources. This is not the fault of lecture capture, but of lectures. Similarly, realistic conversations about how students should treat the flexibility lecture capture offers. Michail Giannakos and colleagues (2015) suggest on the back of research exploring lecture recordings designed-in as an alternative to face-to-face lectures, “students with relatively high experience in video lectures find them more useful” hence it is up to the lecturing staff to encourage use and show how they can be used, particularly the use of the whole lecture rather than selected parts. Rather than hoping that students can find their own way using such resources, [C, interview] I am hoping that this understanding of difference approaches could be used to create case studies that students can relate to and apply to their own practice.
The recommendations for lecturers are similar in some cases to those made by Gosper and colleagues (2007) arguing for “rethinking the role of the lecture” and “delivery style” in order to address attendance. Yet, whereas their conclusions were based upon a presumption that students were not able to engage with the lecture content, the interview data here argues the cause may be more fundamental in students’ approaches and attitudes to private study and the role of lecture content. There is a case therefore to initiate discussions early on with students about the role of lectures, and therefore lecture captures. Drawing on the conference theme, the student participants in this research were made aware that their contributions would be used in this way to inform the institutional direction of lecture capture support for both students and staff. The second recommendation will be to address the independent nature of lecture recordings. Acknowledging and celebrating students’ independent learning approaches, still providing guidance on study practice that aligns with the expectations of the course. Finally, delivering lectures with an appreciation of how they may be used afterwards. Some students noted how it was difficult to interpret diagrams when the lecturer can only be heard referring to ‘here’ without any visual cues. The counter argument is also to make more use of the engagement of students. If students are more relaxed, less stressed and interested, use that to your advantage.
Justifying lecture capture: the importance of student experiences in understanding the value of learning technologies
Justifying lecture capture
the importance of student experiences in
understanding the value of learning technologies
University of York
Where are we now?
‘It would have been nice to
have recordings of lectures.’
‘It would also be extremely helpful for
revision to be able to listen to the
lecture several weeks later.’
‘Class capture video
replays are very useful.‘
‘sometimes notes alone are
not enough to explain key
Source: Institutional survey cited by Cornock & Walker (2014)
Are lecture captures valued as
What motivates students’ use of
Is in-class and private study
behaviour changed by lecture
A better understanding of
how lecture captures are used
in order that we can better
support students’ learning
“I’m doing a lot of things, because I didn’t know about these things before I
came here. I want to explore. I want to try these things and I just realise its
importance in terms of like your future career.”
Students are people too
"My absolute favourite lecturer… I’ve fallen asleep in all three of her
lectures… it’s no reflection on them, it’s just really a struggle"
[J, interview, health issues]
In the lecture
[Without captures] “There’s just like a
battle in my mind…
‘should I write this slide down,
should I just leave it,
should I listen to the lecturer’
…that kind of wastes time, so then I’ve
already missed what the lecturer said”
“I find that I can spend
more time paying attention to what
they are actually saying and actually the
broader argument that they are trying
to make, rather than worrying about all the
“I like star a lecture slide
to know to go back to it
in the lecture recording"
incomplete lecture notes
definitive, distilled notes
fresh set of notes on review
"It would take too much time if I
look back at every lecture
probably. Cos they’re two hours
long, so you can’t listen to every
one again otherwise you’ll just
have no time, and it’s quicker to
look things up in a text book than
to look, go on the VLE, go to the
"I will spend two hours… on a one
hour lecture because I stop it, take
lots of notes, re-listen to bits,
Google a word that they
referenced that I didn’t know what
that meant or I’ve forgotten"
“Wanted to make sure I fully
understood the theory she was
"It makes you feel quite independent, because you can
make the decision that you’re not going to that lecture
because you are too tired or you’ve had too much to do
that day… last term I missed three whole days of uni,
because I had interviews for my placement for next year"
“[Without recordings] I’d have to like email the
lecturer a lot more and like bug them and you
kind of wait on their reply so you can’t finish
off you notes and you can’t tick it off”
Perceptions of lectures
that need addressing
"It’s just like another text book..."
“Like I have never had a point where I have been
like, no I think you are wrong. Because I think clearly
like they know what they are talking about, I hope.”
“It records the lectures and the lectures are exactly
what they need you to know for the course”
"I never seem to be able to stick to like
one strategy… I’ll get a new idea and
then I’ll do that for a bit and it all just
seems to build up and it seems to work
in the end"
[C, second interview]
How can we bust
myths and better
“My mum always says once
you’ve listened to it three times…
like it’s in there for life"
how can lecture capture support you?
what other students do
preparation for practical tasks
get a sense of
focus on specific
to practical task
Utilise recordings in support of
your study approach
Allocate study time appropriate to the
module learning objectives
Check your understanding,
not your memory
Describe the purpose of the lecture
course and how it relates to the
Engage with students about how
lecture recordings can be used
Delivery that acknowledges affordances
and limitations of capture
Bligh, D. (1998) What’s the use of lectures? Exeter, Intellect.
Cornock, M. and Walker, R. (2014) Why do students use lecture capture? Interim report on a qualitative research project. Lecture Capture: Building the Evidence Base, 17 December 2014,
Loughborough University, UK.
Copely, J. (2007) ‘Audio and video podcasts of lectures for campus-based students: production and evaluation of student use’, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 44, 4, 387-399.
Ford, M. B., Burns, C. E., Mitch, N. and Gomez, M. M. (2012) ‘The effectiveness of classroom capture technology’, Active Learning in Higher Education, 13, 3, 191-201.
Giannokos, M. N., Jaccheri, L. and Krogstie, J. (2015) ‘Exploring the relationship between video lectures usage patterns and students’ attitudes, British Journal of Educational Technology. Early
Gosper, M., McNeill, M., Woo, K., Phillips, R., Preston, G. and Green, D. (2007) Web-based lecture recording technologies: Do students learn from them? EDUCAUSE 2007: The Best Thinking in
Higher ED IT, 23 - 26 October 2007, Seattle, WA.
Huxham, M. (2010) ‘The medium makes the message: Effects of cues on students’ lecture notes’, Active Learning in Higher Education, 11, 3, 179-188.
Leadbeater, W., Shuttleworth, T., Couperthwaite, J., Nightingale, K. P. (2013) ‘Evaluating the use and impact of lecture recording in undergraduates: Evidence for distinct approaches by different
groups of students’, Computers & Education, 61, 185-192.
Newton, G., Tucker, T., Dawson, J. and Currie, E. (2014) ‘Use of Lecture Capture in Higher Education - Lessons from the Trenches’, TechTrends, 58, 2, 32-45.
Owston, R., Lupshenyuk, D., Wideman, H. (2011) ‘Lecture capture in large undergraduate classes: Student perceptions and academic performance’, Internet and Higher Education, 14, 262-268.