Mini-series: Media Hopper Replay – a service shaped from the front line

feature 3Professor Susan Rhind, Chair of the lecture recording Academic User Group and Director of Teaching at the Vet School, reviews the first year of Media Hopper Replay. She shares some of the themes that have emerged and considers what research published this year is telling us about lecture recording, as a prelude to our own evaluation report to be launched here next week.

In a complex, multidisciplinary university like Edinburgh, we would expect lecture recording to be adopted at different paces and in different ways. Indeed, for some subjects and pedagogic approaches, it may not be appropriate at all.

When the Academic User Group was constituted last year, the first meeting included discussions on how widely the service would be available, concerns that lecture recordings might increase the temptation to skip lectures, and the potential positive and negative pedagogical impacts.

Those discussions are exactly why the group exists – to ensure the views and interests of academics are at the heart of the programme, and to share ideas and advice to allow colleagues to champion the service in their local contexts.

A major concern across academia when lecture recording is introduced is the question of the impact on attendance.

This debate is reflected in the wider literature – some studies show no impact on attendance, others do, to various degrees. A recent paper by Edwards and Clinton (which has been latched onto by some as ‘evidence’ against lecture recording) shows that it is lecture attendance that is important in relation to student attainment. This is something in our own context we have been absolutely clear about from the start – for example the student guide in use last year states: ‘Your lectures are not recorded and shared with you as an alternative to you attending them – they are supplementary. Therefore, you are still expected to attend’. A well-argued critique of the Edwards and Clinton paper (and the associated tweeting!) is available here, which highlights that as with any research study, it is important that we evaluate the evidence in a measured and scholarly way.

Where research is consistent, however, is in highlighting the imperative to:

  1. Do our own research to explore and compare the differences between disciplinary cultures and their impact on the roll-out.
  2. Talk to and be clear with our students about how, in their own particular area of study, they can make best use of recordings of lectures.
  3. Actively involve student voices as participants in their education.

Interestingly, at Edinburgh, as colleagues are starting to use Media Hopper Replay more routinely, we have seen the rhetoric shift. Most, though not all, practical concerns have diminished. A growing number of Schools have decided to make life as simple and convenient as possible for themselves and students by choosing opt-out – that is, recording everything automatically by scheduling in advance, except where there is a specific reason not to. Still, others are making the technology a transformative tool as they explore flipped learning.

Earlier this year, the Academic User Group collated a summary of issues that were being most commonly expressed. The Lecture Recording Programme staff visited and have been in touch with each and every School, speaking to hundreds of colleagues one-to-one, in committees and at wider events. The chart below provides a high level summary of the data (the left axis signifies how many schools expressed a particular concern; the area of each bubble is proportionate to those schools’ total undergraduate enrolment).

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Across disciplines, it is clear that pedagogical implications have grown to become the standout topic, followed by policy development, expectations around use and issues about copyright in this context. These findings resonate with the feedback from the Policy consultation from earlier this year, which provided a rich seam of thoughtful commentary. They also dovetail neatly with the findings of the University-wide evaluation (more on those next week).

This work paints an increasingly clear picture of the ongoing effort to make lecture recording the norm at Edinburgh, one with which academics are comfortable and that serves the needs of students. It has also helped us shape responses to each of these concerns and address particular issues that staff encounter as they start to use what for many is a novel technology. In addition, PTAS funded projects on lecture recording and our University-wide evaluation are provided data on specific aspects of lecture recording use and consumption.

Many colleagues are already active users of lecture recording. Most are using it for the first time, perhaps conscious of their own anxieties, but open to the choices and possibilities it offers. A few remain to be convinced and are taking a more cautious approach.

Whichever of these you are, know that through your Academic User Group School representative your voice can be and is being heard, and that when using the service the priority is that, at all times, lecturers feel safe and in control.

Find out who is on the Academic User Group (EASE login required)


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. (2018). Tales from the teaching track.

Nordmann, E., Calder, C., Bishop, P., Irwin, A., and 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. Available:

Susan Rhind

Professor Susan Rhind is Chair of Veterinary Education, Director of Veterinary Teaching and Assistant Principal Assessment and Feedback. Her research is currently mainly focussed on veterinary education including assessment and feedback, student wellbeing and support and the use of e-learning and models in support of veterinary education and education more broadly.

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