Where misconceptions remain, should we reframe our understanding to ensure we don’t fall into bad habits?

I had a very interesting conversation with a Learning Designer with regards to video content on Moodle. The impromptu office conversation is something I’ve treasured since we returned to Campus post-pandemic. One of the gems to come from this conversation was – what constitutes good online teaching and what relationship does that have to video content?

The office consensus, perhaps understandable given our teaching backgrounds, was that the context in which the video is used is vital. Whether used in a flipped learning manner to stimulate further in-person discussion or to progress learning beyond the glass ceiling of set learning outcomes.

Ale Armellini has promoted the message that context, rather than content is king. He has said this on various stages and I am fortunate enough to have been in the room where those discussions have taken place. For the unacquainted, he provides a brief outline here https://www.cla.co.uk/blog/higher-education/content-is-not-king.  One idea is that the job of a university is to enable successful learning through quality teaching, but I wonder if sometimes ‘content capture’ falls into traps based on the phrase itself. 

The use of the word ‘content’ is both understandable and important in its distinction from ‘lecture capture’, the process of merely recording on-campus taught sessions. The University’s Content Capture policy offers both a definition of the term and examples of the various forms it can take:

“For example, this could be a short recording (audio and slides), a written summary of the session or a clearly annotated copy of the presentation slides providing an overview of key points, threshold concepts, or discussing points that students find difficult to understand. Such summaries, which need only be a few minutes long, can be created quickly and easily using available technology” (University of Portsmouth Content Capture Policy for Staff 2022, 3.2 p.6) 

While video tends to be the most popular medium, in terms of creation by academics and what is demanded by students, are we led to this by convenience and ease of access rather than what is the best for learning?

There is a danger that content capture can fall into the same trap that lecture capture falls into – the recording of an event. A means of cataloguing, or proving “teaching woz ere” at a particular place or time. The meaning of capture (hopefully ignoring the alternative meaning to take into one’s possession or control by force!) is below…

screenshot of the google page with the definition of capture written on it

The question is what are we recording accurately here? Is it a glorified how-to video? Are there opportunities to use and apply the knowledge within for the student?  I wonder if video content has good learning intentions but would this automatically translate to successful learning outcomes? There are a lot more moving parts involved. Just because a module has videos, it does not mean that it is a good example of an online learning resource.

VLEs at one period were rather like the Wild West. Modules would vary from town to town based on their sheriff – some hospitable to visitors, and some, a lawless landscape. A pandemic and the creation of a Blended and Connected delivery have helped improve the student experience online and has given them a much-needed consistent approach. The University quite rightly received plaudits with a CATE award.  This rewarded the hard work and efforts of all involved but also recognised the drive to change the culture around online learning and content capture.

However, with the weekly format of Moodle modules, students expect staff to “deliver” videos about the relevant taught content on a regular basis. Do we lose the true meaning of content capture and fall into the trap of just capturing material week by week?

Rather atypical to an opinion blog piece, this is meant to pose more questions and stimulate conversation rather than drawing definitive conclusions (surely I can get another blog out of that!).  The next time you wish to add a video to your VLE, perhaps it is also worth considering the given circumstances of learning around that material. Hopefully, then it will capture your students’ attention, meaning they will fully engage in not just the content, but the learning around it.

Credit Image: Photo by Compare Fibre on Unsplash