A recent visit to Oxford University for a conference on the use of video in Higher Education provided an excellent opportunity to pick up insights into how video is being used in universities across the country. In the words of conference organiser Dominik Lukes:

Since the advent of YouTube, video has gained in significance as a medium of instruction. It has become an invaluable resource for informal learning and teaching, professional development, and formal instruction

The morning session consisted of a series of ‘lightning’ presentations, each no more than around 7 minutes. This allowed for a good number of issues and ideas to be presented from a wide range of universities. In the afternoon we could choose from a variety of topics to discuss in small groups, such as student created videos as assessment, accessibility and inclusion, and how to tell a story.

Among the highlights from the day was a lightning talk covering lecture capture. The presenter (James Youdale, University of York) considered the difficult issue of whether lecture capture was changing how teaching takes place and how students engaged with the video lecture. The thorny issue of whether to have lecturers opt-in to have their lectures captured or an opt-out option with all lectures captured unless the lecturer chooses otherwise was also touched on. Among statistics James’ research had found was that 41% of students watch the whole of the captured lecture, 23% skip to what they regard as the important points and 96% watch on their own. This talk raised, without necessarily answering, a few interesting questions such as

  • Should lecture capture change pedagogical practice?
  • Do students need better guidance/help in note taking?
  • How can lectures be made less passive?

From the work done at York, it would seem students generally do value lecture capture and would like more of it.

Taking lecture capture one step further and actually replacing lectures with video was the theme of a presentation by Chris Evans from UCL. Two studies were carried out to gain insight into what students thought about such a bold move. In this case a 2 hour lecture was replaced with a 1 hour interactive video lecture (Xerte was used to provide the interactivity but H5P could also be used). Student feedback was very positive, and to help ensure engagement with the videos assessments were used every two weeks.

Certainly lecture capture and substituting videos for lectures allow students to learn at their own pace but not sure either are a real replacement for direct human interaction

In the late nineteenth century the Psychologist Ebbinghaus created his now well known forgetting curve illustrating how quickly information is forgotten. More modern studies tend to confirm that students quickly forget what they are told in lectures. However, they also show that going back over materials in short bursts can greatly help information retention, perhaps that is the context in which lecture capture can be viewed. In terms of replacing lectures with videos, personally I am not convinced entire courses over a sustained period of time could be delivered this way.

The afternoon discussions developed some of the themes from the morning, of particular interest were views on overcoming barriers to the greater use of video. These barriers seemed to fall into two broad areas – time and skills. Making a video can be time consuming when all production factors are taken into consideration, from writing the script, to editing the raw footage and, many lecturers may feel they have neither the time or the skills to devote to creating videos. In terms of time, what needs to be emphasised that once the video is made it’s there to be used over and over again and down the line can actually save time – students can revisit the videos which can leave time for discussions on critical analysis and evaluation without having to go back over content. For as long as a course module exists, then the video will continue to be a useful teaching and learning resource. In terms of editing, lecturers would not be expected to necessarily have the skills required, but that is where developers are key, and they can be called on the handle the technical side of things.

Overall, the key message I took away from the day is that the research presented indicated videos can be a very useful tool but it’s simply not being used enough – maybe the carrots need to be made more obvious and possibly a few sticks as well?

Image credits: Brett Sayles  on Pixels.com