Mini-series: What are our students saying about lecture recording?

Media Hopper Replay student helpers

This, the final post in our lecture recording mini-series, is devoted to the views and thoughts of our students – the recipients of lecture recordings. The post features a range of ‘mini-blogs’ from students who use lecture recording to support their learning…

Students have been at the heart of the Lecture Recording Programme, from procurement through to delivery and support, providing a unique insight into students’ needs and wants from a lecture recording service. Through the University’s internship programme, students have delivered:

  • Advice on choice of supplier as part of the procurement process
  • Training sessions for staff
  • Information and marketing tools
  • Front-line help and support for new users
  • Updates and reports in Programme meetings

The most visible expression of this involvement has been the student helper service offered at the start of the 2017/18 teaching year and the 2018/19 teaching year. A group of students were trained to provide on the spot support to lecturers new to recording and signpost to other sources of support to ensure the smooth running of the service with the focus firmly on making it as easy as possible for academic colleagues to use Media Hopper Replay.

At Edinburgh, our ambition is to offer an outstanding student experience to as diverse a group of students as possible. Lecture recording contributes to meeting this goal – offering recordings of lectures as a supplemental tool to support learning.

With the expansion of our centrally supported lecture recording service, Media Hopper Replay, to around 250 teaching spaces, including all our largest lecture theatres, I wanted to find out what students were saying about the service.

To do so, Edinburgh University Students’ Association kindly issued a request for students’ feedback via Facebook and student representatives, which asked students: Would you like to communicate your views about lecture recording? Students were asked to write a mini-blog of just 200 words (max) detailing why they used lecture recording, or how they used lecture recording.

Four students responded to this request, and their responses were, overall, very positive.

Steve Anderson, a first year student, explains the two reasons for his ‘deep-seated support for Media Hopper Replay’:

The first reason is the simple, and undeniably universal (to students at least), benefit the recordings have when it comes to exam season, specifically how helpful they can be to revision.

But the crux of my supportive argument is my second point. Being in the minority of undergrads with dependents, a teething consequence of my inceptive semester of university has been scheduling clashes involving family matters (i.e. 1.5 year-old child, partner in latter stages of second pregnancy, and with no personal childcare support (as in family members/close friends) nearby), the result of which has unfortunately caused me to miss some lectures (something I would never normally do).

Thus, despite not equating with the interaction of being in the lecture theatre, having the lectures recorded onto Media Hopper Replay for our benefit (on two of my three courses at least) has been a super invaluable safety net for me.

Therefore, in the spirit of Edinburgh Uni’s drive for inclusion of students of all backgrounds and circumstances, I’d suggest that the application of Media Hopper Replay to all suitable lectures is mandatory.

Marta Christiansen, another first year student, describes how she uses lecture recordings as ‘a valuable source of knowledge’:

I have mostly used lecture recording as a safety net, meaning when I could not go to the actual lecture I could watch it later online. This was very useful to me, since I unexpectedly had to go home, and the recordings spared me of some of the stress of leaving university because I could catch up from home at my leisure. When I have used the recordings like this, I approached them the same way as a normal lecture, so I took notes while watching/hearing it. In addition, I plan to use the recordings as a means of revision and consolidation for exams, and, if I in the future need to write an essay on something from one of my previous lectures, I think I would see it again in order to get my thoughts flowing on the subject.

Marta headshot
Marta Christiansen

Joan-Sophie Horsu, believes that lecture recording ‘should be implemented in all courses’:

As a student, it can sometimes be challenging to listen, understand, engage and type (or write down) everything being taught or discussed throughout a lecture. In my experience, professors want their students to engage with them in a lecture. Recording the lecture enables students to be more present and interact with the professor, rather than worrying about capturing everything being said. I found it especially useful for exams, when reviewing different topics. Debates can sometimes arise in lectures, which lecture slides may not cover, that could be invaluable in developing critical analysis. I often find that I learn a topic much more effectively through such discussions.

Also, many circumstances can lead to absence of a lecture, from illness to an urgent appointment. Depending on the course, it can cause a student to feel as if they have fallen behind on their work. Lecture recording is especially useful in those situations, without having to rely on others’ notes, which may not be complete. All in all, I would appreciate having the option available, and find it to be an essential supporting tool in my learning.

Joan-Sophie headshot
Joan-Sophie Horsu

Finally, another student (anonymous) with caring responsibilities, describes how lecture recording has made his studying experience less stressful:

The recorded lectures have been amazing for me. I just listened as if I was at the lecture, and then made notes on them while watching them at home. Seeing the lecturer is even better than audio. I have problems doing handwriting for extended periods. As a carer, I have to drive frequently on a one-hour commute, and listening to the audio of the lecture in my car reduced my stress because I really felt I was making good use of the time for my studies as well as doing my family duty. One lecture there, and one back. If I was prevented from commuting to the University myself, or found three lectures in a row exhausting, I could attend as much as possible and catch up later. Some of the professors are so brilliant I would buy their lectures on disc if one could.

At Edinburgh, the rollout of lecture recording is more than just a technical implementation; it is an educational research and development initiative in which staff and students are working together to realise the benefits of lecture recording and explore new and exciting uses via the Principal’s Teaching Award Scheme.

As we enter the final year of the rollout programme, and with a University-wide opt-out policy due to commence from 1st January 2019, the potential exists for the University of Edinburgh to consider how lecture recording could continue to act as a springboard for exploring pedagogy, and further ways in which to enhance student support for, and involvement in, their learning.

Lorraine Spalding

Lorraine Spalding is the Lecture Recording Programme communications officer. She is a former radio journalist, and has worked in communications throughout her professional career. She has worked with the Scottish Government on national change initiatives, and Education Scotland on the re-provisioning of Glow, Scotland’s digital environment for learning. She is passionate about the strategic value of communication and the benefit of stakeholder engagement in change environments. She is a trained Action Learning facilitator.

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