Lecture Capture 2.0: The Evolution of Video in Higher Ed

Four guiding principles for shifting to deeper engagement platforms between faculty and students.

GUEST COLUMN | by Bradley S. Fordham

CREDIT Echo360.pngWhile it’s impossible that the Greek philosopher Heraclitus had campus technology in mind when he postulated that “the only thing that is constant is change,” this phrase could nevertheless be the mantra of instructional technology departments. Rapid changes in available technology, student expectations, and instructor needs mean campus IT leaders constantly face an ever-shifting landscape, in which they must find solutions with limited resources.

Technology should make life easier, not more complicated.

Savvy CIOs have realized that getting ahead of the curve requires solutions that meet immediate needs but are designed for “future proof” evolution. Take video, for example. Over the past decade, video capture has become a must-have technology across the campus. In the classroom, “lecture capture” supports instructors who face increasing class sizes in general education courses as well as the rise of nontraditional students, who require flexibility to view course material anytime, anywhere. But, as universities seek to better anticipate the needs of their diverse student body, the application of video as an instructional technology must evolve beyond simply “capturing” a lecture.

In a Lecture Capture 2.0 world, lecture capture is no longer about “quick and dirty” class recordings to be reviewed later. Advanced capabilities have moved us beyond simply capturing audio and video to capturing all of the learning activities in the classroom, facilitating more meaningful engagement between teachers and students, and surfacing new insights about how students learn. To move beyond simple capture, technology departments can no longer evaluate video platforms by checking the boxes of legacy features, but instead must consider how and whether video platforms are designed for pedagogy to enable deeper engagement between faculty and students.

There are four guiding principles for shifting to Lecture Capture 2.0:

Invest in Flexible Solutions to Reliably Support All Teaching & Learning Environments
Unfortunately, many lecture capture systems are, by design, held hostage in large lecture halls or other legacy instructional environments. They are not effective across the wide range of new teaching and learning environments being deployed as universities transcend traditional lectures to more online, hybrid, smaller group, and peer-to-peer settings.

A 2.0 approach enables seamless capture across wide and growing ranges of venues – auditoriums, classrooms of any size, laboratories, clinical settings, study or project group meetings, faculty offices, dorm rooms, and field work locations. In order to meet these varying needs, a platform needs mobile and fixed hardware options, agile capture software for classroom PCs, and robust methods for instructional sessions to be added ad-hoc.

Capture Insights, Not Just Video
New technologies like Fitbit and Waze capture data about how we move, sleep, and drive, and then use insights from this data to help us make better decisions in real time. This type of granular, timely data around student behavior in the classroom has not been available to monitor and improve teaching and learning—until now.

Lecture Capture 2.0 systems go beyond just recording videos to surfacing insights into student engagement by measuring student behaviors associated with perseverance and success such as asking questions during and after class, note taking, revisiting content (including videos), and collaboration with peers. This data on learning behaviors is becoming critically important as institutions emphasize retention and other student success initiatives. Without this new, granular behavioral data, real-time remediation (particularly at scale) is nearly impossible.

Improve End-User Experience and Satisfaction
Technology should make life easier, not more complicated. Lecture Capture 2.0 takes burdens off faculty by automating recording, measurement, and content delivery processes, an improvement over many systems designed for ad hoc or opt-in video recording of instructional sessions.

Additionally, technology should meet users where they are. Today, students and faculty expect to access and share course materials online with just a few clicks or taps as faculty mini-lectures become more popular, and personal capture and remote classroom solutions allow faculty to record, share, and teach “on the go” using personal or mobile devices. Students can likewise record relevant coursework on their PC, tablet, or smartphone. These mobile solutions allow students to engage with materials and collaborate with peers and instructors, while doing laundry, on the bus, or juggling home or family activities.

Demand Open, State-Of-The-Art Architecture
All of these powerful teaching and learning tools require software running on servers to drive them. In the past, these were on campus with the university responsible for deploying, securing, managing, scaling, and updating this infrastructure. On-premise systems were often closed, and vendors offered limited interoperability support. Infrastructure became obsolete faster than finances for refresh became available, so processing power was fixed and eventually insufficient.

As a way to circumnavigate these challenges, many university IT departments switched to servers in the cloud; however, simply moving from on-campus to the cloud is not enough. Solutions must be totally re-architected for the cloud to be able to dynamically scale up and down instantly and take advantage of new infrastructure technologies as soon as they emerge. Institutions must identify vendor partners that offer full support for all lecture capture 2.0 components deployed on campus (e.g., robust video recorders) as well as all teaching and learning capabilities deployed in the cloud. Ideal partners also follow an open, standards-based system integration philosophy recognizing that when universities can easily integrate multiple systems, everybody wins.

Across the country, forward-thinking technology departments, like those at University of Kentucky and University of Cincinnati, are exploiting this new reality of Lecture Capture 2.0, where lectures are no longer passive, and these revolutionary new teaching and learning technologies are not limited to traditional lecture halls. This evolution in video provides exciting opportunities to extend and transform teaching and learning moments, and help institutions continue to advance their academic missions achieving measurably improved levels of student success.

Bradley S. Fordham, Ph.D., is chief technology officer for Echo360 and serves on the IMS Global Technical Advisory Board Executive Committee. Previously, he has served as CTO of Amplify Education, has advised and consulted with NASA, Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), other U.S. government agencies and Fortune 100 global technology companies.

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