Mini-series: A summary of recently published lecture recording papers

Photo credit: unsplash, Patrick Tomasso, CC0

In this blog post, Anne-Marie Scott, Deputy Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Service, shares summaries and thoughts from some of the most recently published papers she has been reading about lecture recording…

Although we have a long history with lecture recording at Edinburgh and our own expertise to draw from, as we scale-up provision, we have also made sure to look outside our institution and learn from others. We have continued to keep an eye on new research being published in the sector in addition to commissioning and funding lecture recording research at the University through our Engagement and Evaluation group (much of it already covered in this mini-series). This helps us to understand where we might be seeing the same trends or impact in our own context; where the points of distinction might be; and where we might need to do more to engage with under-explored areas or emergent issues.

This isn’t an exhaustive survey of all the research published this year, and I’m sure in reading the same papers other points may have more resonance for colleagues. That’s okay. What I hope is that by sharing what has given me pause for thought, it might also prompt some further ideas for future PTAS projects amongst colleagues.

The paper that has probably received most publicity around lecture recording this year was one by Edwards and Clinton, which looks at the impact of lecture recording introduction in an Undergraduate BSc course. Through comparison of two cohorts of students in the same year before and after lecture recording was introduced, they detected a negative impact on attendance, and by extension, a negative impact on attainment. They are clear that there may be a number of factors at play beyond lecture recording that explain differences in cohort behaviours, including demographic factors and intrinsic motivation for the subject. They also suggest that students who have a more surface approach to learning may be less likely to benefit from lecture recording if they are using it as a substitute for attendance, rather than a supplement. Key advice in their conclusions for me includes:

Importantly, there is a strong case for clearly communicating to students the danger of an over-reliance on using recorded content and the potential negative impact that low lecture attendance could have on their attainment.

Another key paper from 2018 is a study from the School of Law at Swansea University, conducted as part of their pilot of institutional lecture recording. In addition to a really useful and comprehensive literature review, they highlight that research outside STEM subjects is lacking, and in Law particularly there is little prior research on the effects of lecture recording. Some caution is required in that this is a small study – 4 academics and 60 students. The study raises considerations about how lecture recording is embedded within an institution and what that might mean for academic development and support. I think this is a very useful point when thinking about what it means to implement lecture recording at scale:

When new teachers join universities they are exposed to teacher development but it is unclear how widespread and/or consistent that development is. The inclusion of lecture recording and how to effectively work with it, whether flipping the classroom or adapting in alternative ways, seems not to be included in all teacher development programmes.

For the more experienced teacher, while lecture recording has been available for some time, the sector has responded variably to enable teachers to keep pace with the pedagogic impact and potential issues within the process. For example, addressing course design to harness lecture recording to better effect and ensuring that learning outcomes reflect the common use of recording may be issues to explore.

The final paper is a study conducted at the University of Aberdeen, which looked at the impact of lecture recording on all four years of an undergraduate programme. A lot of research to date has tended to focus on particular courses within programmes – comparing two cohorts on the same course for example – and not specifically taking year of study into consideration as a variable in the analysis. The Aberdeen study found that the beneficial impact of lecture recordings was greater for first and second year courses, whereas at honours level the impact was much less pronounced. It also found that a number of third variable factors such as year of study, primary area of study, and first language have significance:

The use of lecture recordings was predictive of achievement only with the early years and the importance of the use of this resource declines as students enter the honours years. Our results accord with the suggestion of Phillips et al. (2007) that educational maturity may be a key factor in assessing the impact of lecture recordings and attendance. Demetriadis and Pombortsis (2007) discuss how the nature of learning changes over the course of a degree, with earlier years being focused upon knowledge acquisition and facts, whilst later years require deeper critical thinking skills and the application of knowledge.

The paper goes on in the Conclusions to note that there is still a lack of meta-analysis or systemic review of lecture recording research, and that a move towards more research  informed by the learning sciences would be a fruitful direction to take:

Perhaps more importantly, it is becoming clear that lecture capture research needs to be situated within a theoretical framework. Most of the literature to date (including this paper) presents descriptive and/or exploratory work, largely fuelled by the key academic concern surrounding the impact of lecture capture on attendance. Given the pattern of inconsistent findings and the importance of individual differences highlighted above, we propose that the theory of self-regulated learning may provide an ideal framework through which to study the impact of lecture capture.

My main takeaways from these readings can be summarised as:

  • What advice do we need to develop to support student study skills where lecture recording is one of a range of online resources that they might now be using? The workshops described in the recent post about the Engagement and Evaluation group are a vital next step in this space.
  • What advice and support do we need to provide to academic colleagues making use of lecture recording beyond proficiency with the technology? In particular, as part of programmes such as the PG Certificate in Academic Practice, and also in the context of our support for learning design?
  • In areas that have very mature use of lecture recording where concerns about impact are lower, might there be opportunities now to do new research that seats the use of lecture recording within specific pedagogical frameworks?

As I said above, engagement with these papers, or indeed any of the research projects here at Edinburgh will no doubt stimulate new ideas for areas that we need to consider and better understand as part of the adoption of lecture recording. The next call for PTAS funding will close in March. Please do get in touch if you would like to discuss an idea or suggest an area where we should be commissioning specific research.


Draper, M. J., Gibbon, S., & Thomas, J. (2018). Lecture recording: a new norm. The Law Teacher, 52(3), 316–334.

Edwards, M., and Clifton, M. (2018). A study exploring the impact of lecture capture availability and lecture capture usage on student attendance and attainment. Higher Education, 1-19,

Nordmann, E., Calder, C., Bishop, P., Irwin, A., & Comber, D. (2018). Turn up, tune in, don’t drop out: the relationship between lecture attendance, use of lecture recordings, and achievement at different levels of study. Higher Education.

Anne-Marie Scott

Anne-Marie Scott is Deputy Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services. Her background is in the design, management and support for academic IT services, particularly those used to support teaching and learning activities online. Amongst her interests are the use of new media and the open web in teaching and learning, scalable online learning platforms, and learning analytics. She is a Certified Member of the Association for Learning Technology, an Apereo Foundation Board member and also a Trustee of the Mansfield Traquair Trust. Outside of work she is a prolific gardener and grower and can pickle just about anything!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *