Adventures in Technology Enhanced Learning @ UoP

Tag: ubicast

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.

Flipping the classroom

“The Flipped Classroom” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by AJC1

Over the last few years the convenience of creating a multimedia recording has improved to such an extent that it is now very feasible to enhance the interactivity of contact time with students by recording content that can be passively consumed by students and providing it to them in advance of the valuable timetabled contact time. It requires an initial investment of time but with a bit of careful planning the recordings can be used for a number of years without the need for revision, potentially saving you time in the future as well as removing some of the stress of trying to squeeze all your teaching content into a finite number of lectures and also creates a resource for students to revise from and a reference you can use when providing feedback.

The concept is that you can pre-record content that would normally be presented as a lecture. This can be done without the audience of students which can be a stressful environment, with large lecture theatres, disruptive murmurings in the audience and  audio-visual equipment not always performing as expected. This content can then be viewed by the student at their leisure, at a time when they are receptive to learning, fitting in around part-time employment and other commitments. Time that would normally be spent lecturing can then be repurposed as an engaging student-led session, affording the students time to ask any questions that may have arisen from consuming the content or by working through examples in class – important reflective aspects of learning which are all too often sacrificed in order to cover the all the content of the curriculum. Some may argue that lecture time is not saved as it is invested early in the process to make the recordings, which is true. However, producing a recording of a lecture that is presented multiple times (for example, in large courses), which can also be reused in the following semester or year, can save time on delivering content.

Here at the University of Portsmouth we have a variety of technologies that can assist you with ‘flipping the classroom’ and making your content more engaging, which will both enhance your teaching, and more importantly, improve the students’ learning.

New for the 2016 academic year we have a full lecture capture system for the first time. The UbiCast system is available in a limited number of venues and is now fully operational in the big lecture theatres of Park (Room 2.23 and Eldon West (Room 1.11). It is also available in the Grad School (Room 4.09, St Andrew’s Court) and there is a small seminar room equipped in Dennis Sciama (Room 2.02) where it is intended that content could be created in a ‘studio’ environment without the audience, i.e. for a flipped classroom. DCQE also have a mobile recording unit that can be requested via:

Members of Technology Enhanced Learning will setup the equipment in a suitable venue (please note 30 minutes setup time is required). The UbiCast system will record audio, the content of your screen and video of you presenting – which in the large lecture theatres of Park and Eldon will track you as you walk around the presentation area.

Well established at the University but often underestimated is Relay, a system for capturing screen and audio. In many cases this is all that is required for flipping the classroom – a video of the presenter does not always add value to the content. Relay is available on all standard build PCs via the MyApps portal or can be downloaded from: to your personal PC or Mac.

Please note to use Relay you may require a microphone (if the one in the classroom is not connected to the PC), we recommend a simple USB microphone that is easy to carry around. If you need to walk around whilst presenting try a wireless USB microphone such as the RevoLab X-Tag. If you have a webcam, then this can also be incorporated into the Relay recording as a picture in picture (appearing over the content in the bottom right-hand corner) although we would not normally recommend this as it can block some content and may be distracting to the viewer.

Fuse is a free mobile app developed by TechSmith (the developers of Relay), compatible with Android, iOS and Windows mobile devices. Fuse utilises the camera and microphone of your mobile device to record video and upload it to the Relay server where it can be processed and hosted in Compass to easily embed into your Moodle unit(s). If you don’t need a visual from your computer screen or document camera to get your message across why not utilise Fuse to add an introductory video or an interview of a subject specialist to your Moodle unit?

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