Study tips: Lecture capture technology — what to know

A lecture played on a Video iPod, via AV outpu...

A lecture played on a Video iPod, via AV output onto an analog TV screen (Photo credit: Tama Leaver)

Lecture capture technology is an assistive technology in the classroom that allows teachers to record their lectures digitally for future replay. The technology uses screenshot software to record PowerPoint slides and notes or uses webcams to video full lectures and demonstrations. The benefits of this technology include student ability to review missed material and improve study habits; while detractors say it’s just another way for students to learn passively.

What is lecture capture technology?

Lecture capture is a way for instructors to record classroom lectures. Recordings can be just audio, audio with PowerPoint slides, cursor movements that track on-screen computer activity or a full webcam video recording. Playback can be on various devices such as iPods, computer screens or YouTube. Once recorded, teachers can edit material for clarity or removal of extraneous interruptions, and lectures can be uploaded within 24 hours. Information can be stored for a long time for future use by in-house students or off-campus students. According to consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, the lecture capture business was more than $70 million in 2011.

Benefits of lecture capture for students:

  • Watch captured lectures to catch up if class is missed
  • Review pertinent lectures for tests, research or term paper projects
  • Repeat parts of lectures that were difficult or too fast to grasp during class
  • Watch complicated demonstrations (i.e. for medical classes)
  • Learn in a medium young adults are familiar with
  • Cater to flexible student schedules
  • Share classroom material with peers.

Benefits of lecture capture for teachers:

  • Use the recorded lectures for online or remote classes
  • Trim and edit lectures for concise 10-15-minute snippets of information
  • Supplement resources to lectures
  • Offer students more information outside of class
  • Use for faculty training
  • Collaborate with other instructors for a blended presentation
  • Record presentations by visiting guest speakers and subject matter experts.

Unique uses for lecture capture technology

“Many students have the same questions on class material. Rather than write 15 emails back responding to student questions, I can screen capture a quick mini-lecture or example of the problem and provide to those students,” said Geri Mason, assistant professor of Economics at Seattle Pacific University, reported in “5 Innovative Ways to Use Lecture Capture Technology,” University Business, November 2012 found on

Drawbacks to lecture capture

Not everyone is singing the praises of lecture capture technology. Education technology expert Mark Smithers laid out some drawbacks of the practice in his March 11, 2011 blog article, “Is lecture capture the worst educational technology?”:

  • Watching recordings of lectures perpetuates the passive learning experience. Smithers prefers more hands-on learning.
  • The technology does not engage the student any more than sitting in a lecture hall does.
  • Traditional class lectures are much too long for students to re-watch another time.
  • Funding for lecture capture equipment could be put to better use. According to Tegrity Campus, lecture capture services can start at $10,000 for 250 hours, and about 80 percent of total cost of ownership is from online management and maintenance.

Other disadvantages:

  • Lecture capture should not be a substitute for attending class and may encourage students to skip class.
  • Teachers rely too much on the recordings and don’t explore or develop more modern teaching methods.

On the legal side, Educause Learning Initiative discussed some legal issues in a December 2008 post titled “7 things you should know about Lecture Capture.” “Some question who is responsible for providing the recording resources and who owns the intellectual property once the recording has been made. Using these systems for classes, conferences, and guest speakers might require a legal release…” reports ELI.

Other concerns are storage of the recordings, infrastructure when playing the recordings and using equipment, who should have access to the recordings and if the recordings should play on faculty websites.

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