Mini-series: Why Edinburgh is offering lecture recording at scale

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Credit: Pixabay, goranmx, CC0

One of the biggest drivers for lecture recording has always been to provide greater support for our diverse student community through supplementing existing digital resources with recordings of lectures. As we welcome new students to Edinburgh, and prepare for a new year of teaching, Melissa Highton, Director in ISG and Assistant Principal for Online Learning, reflects on why the University is making lecture recording available at scale…

The University is committed to offering a consistent experience for all students, by providing them with recorded lectures wherever appropriate. The large scale rollout of the technology to our centrally managed teaching rooms has been designed to provide support to as many courses as possible.

The lecture recording team have engaged with students to explore how access to recordings can make a difference to their success. We have found that there are a wide range of types of learners who benefit from education being more equally accessible and inclusive.

Many of our students have complex lives and are balancing study alongside caring responsibilities, or the need to work to fund their studies. Recordings of lectures can lessen anxiety about keeping on top of study, and provide a safety net when life circumstances prevail.

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. (Edinburgh student)

In 2016, a review of the University Accessible and Inclusive Learning Policy made the central provision of a lecture recording solution one of the main recommendations. We hope that lecture recordings can support a wide range of accessibility and inclusivity needs including those:

  • who are visually impaired
  • who work with a scribe to create text notes from lectures
  • who have dyslexia or other learning needs
  • who have autism spectrum disorders
  • who may find physical attendance overwhelming
  • for whom English is not their first language
  • who are learning complex technical terms or in translation
  • who experience debilitating anxiety as a result of missing classes.

In the following video, 2017/18’s Disabled Students’ Officer, Chloë Marvin, talks about lecture recording and accessibility:

Given the University’s commitment to widening access and supporting non-traditional learners, we hope that students who are the first in their family to come to University, or where the jump between secondary education and University is proving difficult, will be able to use lecture recordings to finesse study skills such as note taking.

In this next short video, produced by Lecture Recording Programme student intern, Perry Liu, you can hear from students about their views on lecture recording, learning and accessibility:

For many students the most useful thing colleagues can do to make the content of their lectures accessible is to use the microphone. The microphone in the room is linked to the induction loop which is essential for students with hearing loss and is the best way to capture high quality audio as you talk.

We have introduced a large selection of colourful Catchbox microphones (padded microphones) in larger lecture theatres to ensure that more student contributions can be recorded and heard.

We are well aware that in some of our largest lecture theatres the distance from the front to the back of the room is significant. The chalkboard recording facility with Replay allows “zooming in” when playing back, and offers an improved experience for students who might have been at the back of the lecture theatre.

The more we understand about how lecture recording is being used at Edinburgh by staff and students, the more we can tailor support and guidance to meet those specific needs and develop the service accordingly. If you are interested in learning more about the research and evaluation work we are doing, please contact Jill Mackay.

You can find out more about Media Hopper Replay here.

Melissa Highton

Melissa Highton is Assistant Principal and Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services (LTW) in Information Services Group. Melissa leads services and projects in support of the University’s strategic priorities for digital and distance education on global platforms, blended learning on campus, virtual learning environments, technology enhanced learning spaces, the digital student experience and use of the web for outreach and engagement. She has particular interests in digital skills, open educational resources, equality and diversity and online media. Follow her on Twitter @HoneybHighton

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