Every year we send out a survey to staff to gauge the effect of various technologies, such as Moodle and it’s many components, online readings and lecture capture on their teaching. This year 138 people completed the survey. I was particularly interested to see the feedback on the automatic lecture capture system and this proved to rouse the strongest comments. We wanted to get a general sense of who was using lecture capture and what they thought about it, but more specifically, we wanted to hear from lecturers who might use it in their teaching.

Breaking down the stats and looking at solely the responses from lecturers (59) it was interesting to see a very distinct divide between those who had used the system and those who had never used it. By looking at the stats in this way it was clear that the majority of lecturers who have doubts or fears about the technology have never used the system and those that value lecture capture and think it is a benefit to students are already using it. There were one or two instances where people had used the automatic system in the past and were put off by technical problems etc.

Whatever the case, it seems that lecture capture is polarising opinion and that a number of fears about the technology are adding to this. One of the biggest fears about lecture capture is that it will affect student attendance and although there’s no evidence to back this, there’s little evidence to quash it either! Perhaps we need to do some focus groups with lecturers who have been using the system for a few years to gauge the feeling about class attendance. However, if some courses find that attendance has gone down and others don’t, what then? And is lecture attendance really an issue if you’re giving students the choice? There is also a fear that lecture capture will replace live lectures altogether and that somehow lecture capture is taking the emphasis away from face to face contact via lectures, seminars and office hours. Lecture capture is designed to be a revision tool, a way to help students recap and further understand a lecture, fill out any missing notes from lectures and to help those for whom English is not their first language. These benefits are what students list when they say they like the system. Lecture capture can be recorded and released for a short period of time, such as revision period, and yet there are still fears about students skipping lectures, declining note taking skills and lethargy from students. So, how do we respond to all of these comments? We’re very much aware that a survey can only give a slice of staff opinion, especially as only 138 people responded. Would it help to have a wider debate about this issue?