Adventures in Technology Enhanced Learning @ UoP

Tag: lecture capture (Page 1 of 2)

Guest Blogger: Jonny Bell – Video content as learning objects – Capturing more than just the lecture

We often advise lecturers to use more interesting content on their Moodle sites, rather than just lecture slides, PDFs and so on, but what does that mean in practice and how can lecturers facilitate this and manage their busy schedules?

Videos are an easy way to make sites more visually appealing and are more likely to engage students. We can use videos in two ways: either

(i) source already-created videos, via sites such as Youtube or Box of Broadcasts.

(ii) can create our own. 

As an amateur videographer outside of work this is an area I am very interested in. During my time working in the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies I had the chance to interview some extraordinary characters, including government advisers on how to deal with terrorist attacks and ex-convicts who have been successfully rehabilitated into society. 

These short interviews provided much better value to students than watching a rerun of a longer lecture. In fact, studies show that the length of the video directly links to how much of the content the student will watch. Whilst this study looks at MOOCs, I strongly believe we can translate this to a Higher Education environment also.

With the introduction of H5P functionality within Moodle we can make these videos interactive and make sure students answer questions to solidify the knowledge they’ve gained by watching them.

The generation of students coming through now have grown up on Youtube and Netflix, and academics are keen to tap into that mindset to provide videos of educational value. There’s various different styles of video to choose from, and I have personally been involved in 7 different ones. 

In my current job in the Science and Health Faculty there has been a lot of scope to provide instructional or demonstration videos for specific pieces of equipment in laboratories, for example. Students can watch these videos outside of class, and it saves valuable lab time: students can get on with their work straight away rather than having to get to grips with the equipment. 

I think videos also provide a vital link on Distance Learning courses: it’s often a great way for students to connect with the course, especially if the lecturer is happy to do bits to camera. It can humanise the experience if they can see who is teaching them. 

Students want to feel they get value for money and just providing Powerpoints and PDFs isn’t enough these days. By creating our own in-house videos the students get an almost personalised learning experience. When I started in the Faculty there was some basic camera equipment, but I was able to purchase a higher-spec camera, lapel mics and some small studio lights via senior management. This means that I’m mobile and can go to the lecturer or a location they wish, rather than have everyone go to a dedicated filming space. 

Projects currently in the pipeline are a “TV” style video with student presenters introducing pieces about their specific course, including how to present their poster assessment in front of a panel on a Pharmacy course; this will be invaluable for first-year students.

Looking to the future there have already been requests for my services on field trips for geography-type courses. This means we can increase the accessibility of these courses for students who, for various reasons, might be unable to get onto these trips. Having a short video on how to conduct experiments on soil, for example, means these students will have a similar experience to those who go on the trips. Ultimately, as an institution, we should be striving for all of our students to have consistent learning experiences and by creating short videos we can go some way to achieving that. 

Credit Image: Photo by Seth Doyle on Unsplash

Video in Higher Education

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

Types of content capture

In September 2018 the University established a working group in order to better understand what the future of content capture should look like here at Portsmouth. The group wanted to know what sorts of content should be captured, what types of media were important, and how students and staff would feel about having their contributions to different types of session recorded. Once the responses from the online consultation exercises and “town hall” meetings have been fully analysed, the results will be made available through a variety of channels (including this blog). Until then, however, I wanted to advertise the recording of a webinar – one of the Future Teacher 3.0 series of webinars – which took place about the same time we were launching our working group.

In this webinar Graham Gibbs, a National Teaching Fellow and Reader in Social Research Methods at the University of Huddersfield, looks at the use of various different types of video in a higher education setting. He identifies “21 in 12” – twenty-one examples of educational video which you can see in just twelve minutes.

As the accompanying blurb states, these videos vary in approach, pedagogy, and production value – but all of them contain some educational value, and many of the techniques could be replicated at Portsmouth using existing technologies. Graham wrote a guide for the HEA’s Innovative Pedagogies series, entitled “Video creation and reuse for learning in higher education”. The guide is well worth reading, but if you don’t have time just check out the Future Teacher webinar – it lasts only 12 minutes!

Jed Villejo
Credit Image: Photo by Jed Villejo on Unsplash

Episode 8 – Charles Barker – Presentation Performance

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Episode 8 - Charles Barker - Presentation Performance

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Student digital experience 2018 – results from the JISC tracker

For the past three years the University of Portsmouth has run the JISC student digital experience tracker – a survey that aims to capture students’ experiences of and attitudes towards the digital environment in HE. I’ve just made a preliminary analysis of the results from this year’s tracker, which ended on 20 April 2018.

One of the useful aspects of the tracker is that it enables us to benchmark our results against the sector. A total of 15,746 students at other English HEIs responded to the tracker, and it’s interesting to compare their experience with the 310 Portsmouth students who responded. (Note: the student profiles of those taking the tracker are slightly different, so the comparison isn’t perfect. We deliberately choose to avoid involving students at L5 and L6, in order to minimise any interference with the NSS. At English HEIs the distribution is ‘flat’: students at all levels take the tracker.)

The good news is that, for almost all the questions posed, Portsmouth students give more positive responses than their counterparts elsewhere! For most questions the difference is only a matter of a couple of percentage points, so it would be wrong to claim there is a statistically significant difference, but in some cases there really is a notable difference. For example:

  • 93% of Portsmouth students rate the quality of UoP’s digital provision as good or above, vs 88% for the sector
  • 85% of Portsmouth students rely on Moodle to do their coursework, vs 74% for the institutional VLE at other institutions
  • 77% of Portsmouth students say that digital tech allows them to fit learning into their life more easily, vs 70% for the sector
  • 76% of Portsmouth students use digital tech to manage references, vs 65% for the sector
  • 71% of Portsmouth students say when digital tech is used on their course they enjoy learning more, vs 62% for the sector
  • 67% of Portsmouth students regularly access Moodle on a mobile device, vs 62% for the institutional VLE at other institutions
  • 67% of Portsmouth students regard Moodle as well designed, vs 56% for the institutional VLE at other institutions
  • 64% of Portsmouth students say online assessments are delivered and managed well, vs 59% for the sector

Even more interesting than the percentages, however, are the students’ free text comments. Students were asked what one thing we could do to improve their experience of digital teaching and learning. From their responses, four clear themes emerged:  

  • Students want lecture capture and/or more use of video
  • Students want a more consistent approach to Moodle use, and a less ‘cluttered’ interface
  • Students want better training/help/support for themselves when it comes to using digital tech
  • Students want staff to make better use of existing technology  

Over the coming months we’ll be considering how best to address these challenges.


Guest Blogger: James Brand – Lecture Capture in the Graduate School

The Graduate School training room (room 4.09, St Andrews Court) was one of the rooms that had the Ubicast lecture capture system installed as part of the University’s roll out of the system in 2016. This room hosts over 150 sessions throughout the academic year from the Graduate School Development Programme (GSDP) for postgraduate research students as well as the regular sessions for the Research Supervisor Events Programme (RSE) for research degree supervisors.

Information on how the system works and using Ubicast can be found in a previous post on the TEL Tales blog – Ubicast Lecture Capture. The Graduate School’s installation of the system is configured slightly differently to most of the installations around the University as the training room is not a lecture theatre, instead it is used for training workshops of approximately 30 people per session. The Graduate School’s installation of the lecture capture system incorporates a ceiling microphone that captures audio from a wide area at the front of the room. The major benefit of this approach is that a member of staff is not limited to standing at a podium nor are they required to wear a microphone for each recording. As the Ubicast installation is localised to the Graduate School, the recordings are managed entirely by myself on the media server with technical support from Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL).

Since the installation of the lecture capture system the Graduate School has recorded a large number of sessions, the majority of which come from the GSDP and RSE sessions. These are then made available to students and staff via Moodle. The system has also been used for other purposes including postgraduate research students recording presentations as a way to practice their teaching or presentation skills. The system allows a quick and easy method to capture sessions without having to provide much in the way of technical support. Since the system is integrated into the training room, we can capture sessions without staff having to worry about equipment like microphones or sound levels. Our policy now is to capture all GSDP and RSE sessions, however, these are not published without the session facilitators first checking the recordings and providing permission to release them.

The ability to pre-schedule recordings is a convenient feature of the system. I am able to schedule recordings in advance by date and time so that staff don’t have to worry about stopping and starting recording. The system is also unobtrusive which allows staff to teach their sessions as normal and have it captured as a high-quality video resource. These resources are primarily used as supplementary materials for the face-to-face sessions to allow students to re-visit the content that has been covered. However, they also provide a flexible training resource for students unable to attend our face-to-face sessions.

Configuring the system has been challenging at times and has required some trial and error to get to a stage where I am confident that the system can produce quality resources. TEL have supported the installation of the system and are able to perform remote assistance if necessary. It is worthwhile checking that equipment is functioning correctly on a regular basis though and before a session takes place as it can often take some time to troubleshoot issues.

Although we are now making a large number of recordings, I believe that one of the biggest challenges – to get maximum effectiveness out of the system and to create pedagogically sound resources – will be training staff on best practice usage of the system. We have a lot of talented and experienced teaching staff at the University, however teaching with lecture capture brings its own unique challenges. In the future it would be really useful to coordinate a training programme to help staff to get the most out of their use of lecture capture.

The system has a number of interesting features that require further exploration. For example, Ubicast provides the facility for live streaming from the training room so that sessions can be watched live. This has been discussed as a potential delivery method in the future to support distance learning students unable to attend our face-to-face workshops. It also opens up the possibility for collaborative training partnerships with other institutions if we can offer our sessions remotely. Other features of the system that need exploring include getting the most out of Ubicast’s rich media player. The ability to embed questions and attach other media into videos is available to further enhance video resources.

Ubicast opens up a lot of possibilities for the delivery of online teaching materials at the University and the Graduate School has made extensive use of the system over the past year. Whether lecture capture is the best method for creating online resources is something to be considered. However, the system has allowed us to quickly capture a large number of sessions and make them available as online resources which would otherwise be difficult to put online. We will continue to investigate how to use this exciting technology to create online training resources for our staff and students.


If you are interested in seeing the set-up of the Graduate School’s training room and configuration of the integrated Ubicast lecture capture system please contact

Image credits: Photo by ShareGrid on Unsplash

UbiCast Lecture Capture

Credit image: UbiCast

The University has selected the UbiCast Lecture Capture system for producing high quality recordings of lectures. The system has been designed to be seamless to use, with your only input being to start and stop the recording, or to request in advance that the lecture is recorded – in which case the entire process can be automated for you! You then need only do what you would normally do in that room to begin your teaching, such as ensuring the microphone is switched on and can be heard by the audience.

The system captures audio from the desk and/or tie microphone depending on the room configuration and plays it back to users alongside the content you have projected for the students and/or the output from a video camera. To make the video of your presentation more engaging, the camera can digitally track you as you move within the presentation area. The compiled output will also sense when it is appropriate to display either the camera or the presented content in full screen mode to draw the viewer’s attention.

Although the high definition camera is fixed in each room, our editing software automatically recognises upper-body shapes within the defined presentation area and frames (tracks) these as they move about, hence the final output is similar to that achieved by a camera crew filming the event. To achieve the best results, we recommend wearing clothes that will contrast against the backdrop in the room. If possible you should also remove any ‘shapes’ from the presentation area which may interfere with the recognition process such as empty chairs.

Once the recording has been stopped it will automatically render and upload to our Media Server, which is accessible at using your UoP login details. You should then contact the TEL team at with details of your presentation (title, date, time, room) and we will make your recording available to you. Ultimately, we hope that all you will then want to edit on your recording is to trim it, though  before you actually trim anything we recommend that you watch through all the parts that you intend to use and let the TEL team know if there are any issues with camera tracking as we can fix these first. You will have access to trim the recording yourself, whether this is just top and tailing or cutting out sections from the middle is up to you, you can then merge all of your parts together as one recording or split them into separate videos should you wish. Once you are happy with your recording, let the TEL team know and we will ‘publish’ the video making it accessible to other users on the server. Should you wish you could also then embed the recording within Moodle.

UbiCast is currently only available in a limited number of rooms across campus – Eldon West 1.11, Park 2.23, Richmond LT1, Dennis Sciama 2.02 and The Graduate School 4.09 in St Andrews Court. We also have a mobile unit that the TEL Team can set up in suitable rooms around campus –- but please contact the TEL team well in advance to check room suitability.

If you like UbiCast spread the word, as we can then look at an investment proposal to expand the service.

TechSmith Relay

Many of you will be aware of the TechSmith Relay service as the University has been using it for a number of years, but are you making the most of it for your students? The service is available on all UoP machines via MyApps and you can also download the software free from our TechSmith Relay server (log in with your UoP details) for use on any other compatible machine – see

TechSmith Relay allows you to record your screen with an audio voiceover, which is currently considered suitable to meet the requirements of the Disabled Student Allowance. Incorporating TechSmith Relay into your teaching need not be just about meeting these requirements however, as all of your students can benefit from being able to hear what was said during contact time. Students’ attention can be disrupted while making notes during a lecture, and knowing they can refer back to the recording rather than having to rely on their own notes afterwards means students can concentrate fully on the lecture.

To use this software in a lecture theatre you will require a microphone to be connected to a PC, in some rooms the desk microphone has been linked up in this way, but not all. To ensure you can record your session in this way we recommend the purchase of a USB microphone which you can quickly set up in the various teaching rooms.

This can take the form of a simple USB wired microphone if you do not stray too far from the microphone during your lecturing, such as:

Or, if you like to wander around the presentation area, a microphone such as the RevoLabs X-Tag could prove useful although it will cost significantly more:

Of course, rather than recording your entire lecture, if you do have time at your desk to create a lecture summary suitable for revision then this may well prove more effective to complement your teaching. Research has shown that short recordings of 5–15 minutes are far more effective for student engagement and learning.

PLEASE NOTE that it can take a few minutes to upload your recording (particularly at the end of a lecture) so allow 3–4 minutes before logging off the PC otherwise your recording will not complete uploading even if you receive a message saying it has been ‘submitted’.

You may also find Relay a helpful tool for providing feedback. When marking an essay you could have the essay on screen and use the mouse as a pointer whilst talking about an assignment, thereby providing audio feedback in addition to written feedback. Why not check out the Assessed Video tool!

Assessed Videos

Assessed Videos is a solution developed by the TEL Team to simplify the administration processes of recording a student (or group of students) for assessment. Recordings are shared privately between the assessor and the student just as a written assignment would be. The process is so simple it has been used in class whilst students have given short presentations one after the other with the recording available to the student for review before the end of the session.

Utilising our TechSmith Relay Server (formerly Camtasia Relay) and the TechSmith Fuse mobile app (available on Android, iOS and Windows devices), a video is taken by the mobile device and uploaded to the central server where metadata such as the student’s ID number and details about the recording are stored in a database and used to assign viewing rights. As a lecturer on a really basic level, all you need to do to use this service is start a recording, stop a recording, select the appropriate profile from a dropdown list when uploading the recording and enter the student’s ID number in the description field. After five minutes (longer for high definition video, longer recordings and at peak times) the recording is available for both you and your student to view at where you can both log in using your standard UoP details. All of your videos will be available from one simple navigation page, so no need to remember lots of URLs or save numerous emails.

Whilst working closely with early adopters of this technology/solution, it has become clear that sometimes we can save you even more time by batch processing some of the metadata for you. For example between X and Y dates you might like all of your recordings to have similar titles .e.g ‘U12345 Assessment 1 – student number’. This can be arranged for you so that all you need to do is enter the student number in the description field as described above, rather than completing the title field each time in addition. We can also ensure that all of your recordings are shared with a colleague and vice versa – particularly useful if you team teach. Have an external examiner? No problem, we can create an account for them and share either all or just a selection of your recordings with them.

For each recording, the owner (and any markers) have space to enter a numerical grade out of 100 and also complete a comments box, but that is no reason to limit yourself with the type of feedback you could be providing. Why not film yourself talking to the camera? Simply enter the ID number for the student you are providing feedback to in the description field. Or if you are a little camera shy you could use Relay on your computer to record your screen, perhaps allowing you to add an audio comment alongside a marking grid that you might be completing for the student? If you make a number of recordings throughout the year, you can even set a written reflection exercise with your students who can reference each recording with the direct URL – their recording is still private between you and them as nobody else can view that URL without permissions.

There is both a ‘quickstart’ and a more detailed user-guide available to download from but if you have any questions or would like a demonstration of the system please contact the TEL team at for assistance.

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