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 email@example.com