Eric Kunnen, Ask Dr. C, BlackboardGuest post by Eric Kunnen, Director of Distance Learning and Instructional Technologies, Grand Rapids Community College, and a member of the Ask Dr. C program, a free question and answer service for Blackboard users.

Most faculty simply do not have time to learn costly, complex solutions for recording and distributing their lectures, but many tools can provide instructors with effective ways of redistributing classroom sessions and, ultimately, improve the learning experience for students.

Typically, lecture capture utilities include a video of the computer screen and audio overlayed by the instructor. Occasionally, there is also video of the instructor or whiteboard/document camera which allows student to see what the faculty member is writing on the whiteboard or showing to the class through a video camera.  Lecture capture tools on the market today include Tegrity, echo360, MediaSite, Accordent Capture Station, Camtasia Relay, and even some open source options like Panopto*.

Some of these products focus on the software-based capture model, whereas other products provide hardware capture devices that are typically physically mounted to the instructor podium. The latter allows for a more vivid replay of what happened in the classroom.

Capturing lectures can enhance teaching and learning in many ways and I’ve highlighted a few below:

  • Ability to better use class time for group projects and discussion.  A lecture can be placed online and watched outside of the physical classroom which can provide additional time for enhanced face to face interaction.
  • Potential for increasing student retention rates, engagement levels, and achievement.  Students can review lectures at their leisure and review them frequently providing more opportunity for mastery of the content.
  • Opportunity for students to better manage notetaking and learning in fast-paced classes that contain rapid delivery of facts  or complex concepts that are often challenging to comprehend in a lecture setting.
  • Capability to keep up with the class if they are absent or unable to attend.
  • Flexibility for additional uses such as training, professional development, feedback on student assignments, and campus orientations that extend beyond lectures.

Lecture Capture at Grand Rapids Community College

Knowing that complicated applications can limit innovation, Camtasia Relay was selected as the campus standard at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC).  The software-based lecture capture solution provides faculty with the ability to easily record their screen along with voice narration through the microphone on their computer.

The software is installed in all classrooms on the GRCC campus, and can also be downloaded onto the instructor’s laptop.  After the recording is completed, the system takes care of the publication of the lecture in a format that is optimized for the web, mobile access, and even an audio only version.  An instructor can add the link to the published video to their Blackboard course, or embed the video using the “Raidercast Mashup”.

Blackboard Building Blocks: GRCC and Raidercast

The Blackboard Building Blocks program provides a wealth of vendor based tools, open source and community developed solutions, and also the ability to create custom applications that integrate with existing campus systems.  GRCC developed a mash-up Building Block called “Raidercast” that enables faculty that use Camtasia Relay to easily embed their recorded video into their course without copying, pasting, or editing complicated source code.  In addition, this provides students with the ability to play back the lecture without linking away from their Blackboard course.

In summary, lecture capture systems are becoming an important instructional technology on college campuses.  With the ability to easily place recordings within Blackboard, students have anytime/anywhere access to teaching resources that can allow better use of class time, provide an effective way to review important pieces of lecture, give students the ability to practice note taking in fast paced classes, and access to multimedia based resources that can engage online and distance learning students and help them feel better connected to their campus and instructors.

To get a good idea of the benefits of lecture capture to the learners themselves, take a look at a few comments below from students at GRCC:

  • “I really like that you record your lectures and allow us to listen to them. They really help me understand the material and the reading.”
  • “I wish all on-line classes had the You Tube lecture to listen to. It was a great help and you get to know the professor somewhat without meeting him.”
  • “A few of the things I liked: The online lecture video – I really liked this, as compared to live lectures, I could pause and rewind at my pace.”
  • “I was excited to see that you have utilized the ‘record’ feature of the PowerPoint presentation! I like the feel of the ‘brick and mortar’ class with being able to hear you and the interaction with the class, with the mobility of the online portions.”

Note: All lecture capture technology included in this post is currently available, in various formats, for integration with the Blackboard Learn 9.1 platform.

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