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    We support Staff and Students using technology to enhance teaching & learning.

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  • Archive for the 'Lecturecast' Category

    Live lecture broadcast study at UCL

    By Rod Digges, on 22 July 2014

    Students in Lecture


    Many Lecture spaces at UCL that have been equipped with Lecturecast are now able to stream (broadcast live) lectures but this aspect of Lecturecast has yet to be introduced to the UCL teaching community.

    In light of this, E-Learning Environments will be undertaking a limited exploratory study of live streaming, inviting a number (5-10) interested academics to use streaming in addition to recording their lectures.
    If you are interested in taking part in this study or want to find out more read on..

    Five videos on UCL’s lecture capture experience

    By Clive Young, on 28 January 2014

    UCL was the lead partner for the recently-finished  REC:all project supported by the European Commission under the Life Long Learning Programme. REC:all explored new ways in which lecture capture could become more pedagogically valuable. Over the course of the project we realised that the situation in UCL was developing very rapidly. We decided therefore to explore beyond the original case studies in order to capture some of the broader issues that were emerging.

    To do this we spoke to many practitioners from across the institution and in the spirit of the project, we created five short films to  capture various aspects of UCL’s experience.

    Video 1 The Lecturecast story (11m 34s)

    Why and how UCL adopted and rolled out our Echo360 installation.



    Video 2 Student reaction to lecture capture (7m 08s)

    UCL students explain why they like lecture capture.



    Video 3 Pedagogy (10m 38s)

    The pedagogical impact of lecture recording



    Video 4 Lecture flipping (11m 01s)

    One of the most popular ‘enhancements’ of of lecture capture is flipping



    Video 5 The Future of Lecture Capture (7m 41s)

    Social media, open resources and other ideas.



    Many thanks to all UCL students and staff who agreed to be videoed for this project.

    Lecture Capture debate – is it a “game changer”?

    By Clive Young, on 17 January 2014

    lecturecastIn a short video The ‘disruptive potential’ of lecture capture posted in December I challenged a astonishingly persistent narrative among learning technologists that lecture capture is the ‘worst’ educational technology.

    On Wednesday I had the opportunity to debate this issue further with a lively audience from Queen Mary University London as part of their Teaching and Learning Conference. I was up against a formidable opponent, Andy Brown, Head of Academic Development at University of the Highlands and Islands.

    My argument was that lecture capture is a genuinely transformative technology in higher education, benefitting our students, our staff and our institutions. Any cynicism I may myself have had about this approach has been dispelled by my experience of seeing at first hand the effects of lecture capture implemented at large scale in at UCL. I now believe it is a game changer and I use that awful cliché deliberately as lecture capture is not often seen in that transformative light.

    We started with a small pilot using Echo360 around five years ago; fast forward to today we have over 60 installations across the campus, 20% of our lectures are routinely recorded with 2000 recordings last term, 10,000 hits a week and 15,000 at exam time. An important aspect is that we did not start out by making recording compulsory; we just made it available. The growth therefore is due to student demand, our surveys show students are overwhelmingly in favour and two thirds use the system. There seems to be a ratchet effect – once students use lecture capture on one course, they want it on all courses and this is a common story among all institutions who implement at large scale.

    Of course just because people like something, doesn’t mean it is good for them. I’m fond though of Josef Stalin’s maxim “Quantity has a quality all its own. Remember most of our growth is due to voluntary participation. Academic colleagues might sometimes be skeptical about new technologies and we know our students are often strategic learners, but the data from thousands and thousands of micro-decisions seems to show there is a clear perception at an individual  that level lecture recording is in some way educationally beneficial.

    In the recently-finished REC:all project which UCL led, we tried to identify some concrete educational benefits, starting with ‘classical’ lecture capture the recording of live teaching events. We used a simple framework to describe educational value – the 3 I’s, namely image, interactivity and integration (all the references, by the way are in Beyond lecture capture, one of the guides on the REC:all web site).

    Of the three, image is the weakest part of lecture capture, a small video window with iffy quality – what can that convey? Student surveys reveal it can get across emotion, enthusiasm, energy, models of academic thinking. It provides the authenticity, reality sometimes drama of  a live performance and above all helps orientate especially if students unfamiliar with material, lecturer or language.

    The jewel in the crown of lecture capture is perhaps interactivity. Lecture capture transforms an ephemeral event into a learning object. The learning object can be accessed on demand on students’ devices in their  own time and is controlled via search  start, stop, pause and  review. The slide based indexing (synchronising video with slide changes) is key to this. It is important to realise that students generally only look at a small percentage of a recording. Research shows students “actively choosing specific sections of content to review rather than passively revisiting entire lectures”, and our UCL data certainly backs this up. Sometimes students use the recordings for clarification (there is a peak of use immediately after a lecture), sometimes for consolidation (there is another peak before exams but in wither case this simple control and interaction is in my view a rich form of engagement. It is active, selective, process oriented, and learner centric; using lecture captured recordings is much more than transmission.

    Even if colleague are not convinced by the intrinsic benefits of video itself the third educational benefit integration provides another route to student engagement. Where do the recordings of lecture capture go? Into the virtual learning environment (VLE) appearing as links, in our case, in Moodle. This allows the lecturer to enhance or expand the recordings with additional resources, worksheets, background readings, quizzes discussion forums and so on and evidence suggests they do. Lecture capture drives traffic into the VLE, and students spend longer in the system, it becomes part of their study workflow this in turn encourages academics to invest time more in developing richer online student resources. One result of this ‘virtuous circle’ is that in a survey last year our students considered a remarkable 45% of our Moodle courses were ‘enhanced’ with media, forums, discussion and so on.

    Lecture capture also has benefits for the university or college. Implementation rightly conveys the image that the institution is responsive to student demand and that they are providing a supportive and sophisticated, media-rich online environment for them. But we are also building capacity in the institution; infrastructure, technology, support skills, knowledge of copyright, accessibility, IPR and so on and above all sustainable budgets. This kit is not cheap and making cases to finance committees forces the institution think about media use and our future priorities.

    One final point is our experience at UCL suggests while it may be hugely beneficial itself, lecture capture also acts as a ‘gateway’ to greater use of media across the institution. It is easy to use so it draws ‘mainstream’ academics into using media and gets them familiar with seeing themselves on media. Once they have done this in our experience they often ask “what else can I do with this system?”. Some start thinking spontaneously about more sophisticated learning designs such as ‘flipping‘, using screen capture, recording mini lectures and even getting students to create video. Video is increasingly used to prepare lab sessions or field trips, elaborate on ad hoc problem areas, provide feedback  At UCL a community of practice is now emerging around the idea of the ‘media-savvy academic’. All this in turn is impacting on the use of video in distance learning, for CPD, marketing and maybe one day for MOOCs or MOOC-like offerings. Not everyone ‘upgrades’ in this way but the path is clear and a significant group of our lecture capture users are taking it. Lecture capture provides the experience, expertise and infrastructure to make this possible.

    Was my argument successful? It seems so. Using ‘clickers’ we found those in favour of lecture capture at the beginning of the debate were already an encouraging 48%. This however rose to 57% by the end of the debate – despite some tough critical questioning! – so a 9% positive swing is not too bad!

    Many thanks to QM’s Stella Ekebuisi for organising this very enjoyable event, Prof Omar Garcia for chairing and of course Andy for her impressive counter-argument.


    The ‘disruptive potential’ of lecture capture

    By Clive Young, on 5 December 2013

    Over the last two years our Erasmus REC:all project has been looking at the potential of lecture capture both to support conventional teaching but more importantly to enable and encourage new learning designs such as flipping.  

    Lecture capture has traditionally had a bit of a bad reputation among learning technologists, encapsulated by Mark Smithers’ much-quoted blog post Is lecture capture the worst educational technology?.

    However there is a growing alternative view that lecture capture, even in its classical form is in fact pedagogically richer that many might think. Moreover it can act as a gateway to enable academics to start using media to support their teaching. As one US expert observed last year; “The uninspired label lecture capture, fails to convey the disruptive potential of this tool “.

    But what does this actually mean in practice? In this short video filmed as part of the project, I explain why I think lecture capture can be a genuinely transformative technology.


    Mind, Brain and Education Science meets lecture flipping

    By Mira Vogel, on 8 July 2013

    Have you ever wondered what to make of an assertion about human ability to learn? That somebody has or hasn’t got a ‘maths brain’, for example, or that human ability to acquire a new language is limited by age? Research in neuroscience and psychology is growing fast – and yet when findings surface in the media, most educators outside those fields find it hard to judge their validity, make sense of them in relation to other often conflicting findings, or extrapolate from them into practice.  Educators and educationalists are in need of a field dedicated to this task of synthesis. Thankfully such a field now exists and is known as Mind, Brain and Education Science.

    Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa and Mind, Brain and Education Science

    Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa at UCL

    Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa

    Mind, Brain and Education Science (MBE) has been gathering ground in recent years and has become an established course of study at several institutions across the world – at Harvard  it is available as undergraduate module, Masters programme and doctoral concentration. The field has a dedicated journal, Mind, Brain and Education, and a professional body with the admittedly inauspicious name of IMBES.

    This summer UCL explored the intersection of MBE and lecture flipping – the latter a practice which, pioneered by Carl Gombrich with ELE (E-Learning Environments)  and CALT (Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning) is rapidly establishing itself at UCL. One of Ecuador’s leaders in MBE, Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa  (Universidad San Francisco de Quito and Harvard), visited for a fortnight as an incoming UCL International Teaching Excellence Bursary recipient.

    An early and major contribution to MBE during her doctoral research, Tracey convened an international expert panel to reach a consensus on the tenets of the new field. Out of these delphi rounds an important discovery emerged: some research findings which the panel agreed were unreliable or untrue persist as myths in education today, including damaging assumptions about the effects of age, socio-economic status, and other individual differences on the ability to learn. A good introduction to MBE is this presentation by Tracey which we recorded at UCL in July.

    Flipping as an inclusive practice

    During her time at UCL Tracey carried out a number of engagements, including an Engineering Learning Lunch, a seminar with Brain Sciences, a visit to UCL’s academy, and a public lecture on MBE tenets across the human lifespan – but the focal point of her visit was a workshop titled ‘The Flipped Classroom’. Here Tracey brought her MBE disciplinary knowledge into play with the flipping initiative already underway at UCL, encouraging participants to examine the workings of flipping and make informed decisions about teaching.

    Over two days 16 participants familiarised ourselves with the most important principles of flipping, put them into practice, exchanged experiences, and considered each others’ work. The first section of the workshop was dedicated to principles of learning, drawing on MBE research and posed as a series of provoking questions. We discussed backwards design (which UK educationalists such as Biggs refer to as ‘constructive alignment’) of activities and assessment, always based on learning objectives which do not change. We then discussed the need for inclusive teaching practices which arises from these unchanging objectives, and how flipping can, if well-conceived, enable students with individual differences to reach the levels of knowledge they need to progress and succeed in that discipline. Based on MBE principles, we expect flipping to work in some key ways. Where flipping allows students the time to familiarise themselves with core concepts and pursue their own questions before the lecture (which we should perhaps start calling a ‘plenary’), they are more confident asking questions – as a learning activity, asking questions is more demanding than reproducing knowledge from memory because good questions depend on bringing prior knowledge into play and building from it. A flipped lecture can set out the boundaries of what is expected of a cohort at a certain level, and it can act as a reference.

    You might ask, doesn’t this actually boil down to the age-old problem of student motivation to read their set texts? If students won’t do the work, then why should they expect to succeed? Tracey responds that teaching is best judged by the success of those students who are least likely to succeed, rather than most likely. Flipping doesn’t present itself as an alternative to the texts and so poses no obstacles to engaging with them; rather it exploits newly available verbal and non-verbal forms of academic communication, and recognises that many students experience particular barriers to ‘the work’ when ‘the work’ is reading. MBE science indicates that students benefit from signposts, encouragement and other ways in. Tracey discussed the expressive power of video (and I had a side discussion with my neighbour Anne about the Gutenberg parenthesis) and its ability to engage by introducing change, texture and emphasis. She expanded on the MBE basis for variation in teaching: the human brain is alert for and pays particular attention to change. She acknowledged that many lecturers have taken measures to introduce the variety into their presentations and that recordings which don’t exploit that medium can be equally flat and homogenous – perhaps more so. Flipping isn’t a religion, she points out, but a tool.

    You might also question the need for interactivity and participation during the lecture – isn’t it sometimes the case that students simply want to know what the academic knows? You might point out that the lecture itself is a way in, preparing students to contribute to their seminars or tutorials.  Tracey emphasises that the person who does the work does the learning – in their prevailing form lectures make it easy for everybody to relax except for the sweating lecturer. Accordingly, the best flipping practices make students work hard. Another factor is contact time – it’s debatable whether an event at which people sit together in silence, watching and listening to a presentation in which they are unlikely to intervene, can accurately be called ‘contact’. This observation isn’t restricted to higher education – at a recent HEA event, Power in Your Pocket, Mary Oliver (Head of the Performance Research Centre at the University of Salford) introduced us to the work of Jacques Rancière. In his 2009 dialectic The Emancipated Spectator, Rancière advances a radical view of the theatre not as a site for spectacle, but for community participation. While I’m convinced that the vast majority of students and academics would (even if pragmatically) defend the current separation of academic and student role, I also think most would subscribe to this view of learning (p11):

    ‘The distance the ignoramus [Rancière's term for somebody who knows little] has to cover is not the distance between her ignorance and the schoolmaster’s knowledge. It is simply the path from what she knows to what she does not yet know, but which she can learn just as she learnt the rest; which she can learn not to occupy the position of scholar, but so as better to practise the art of translating, of putting her experience into words and her words to the test; of translating her intellectual adventures for others and counter-translating the translations of their own adventures which they present to her.”

    What is best to flip?

    Since recording and uploading a lecture is different from flipping, we then tackled the question of what to flip – or to put it a better way “What is the best use of my face-to-face time with students?” Some activities such as practice, inquiry, or experimentation work particularly well when they are face-to-face but are squeezed for time in the curriculum. With that in mind, there’s a strong case for putting delivery of material into pre-session activities including (though not limited to) recordings. Noting that all learning depends on memory and attention, Tracey suggested principles for identifying material from existing lectures which would work better in pre-session videos. To summarise, flipping is most useful where there is a huge variance in prior knowledge, for concepts which students struggle to understand, or key concepts without which students cannot progress.

    How do we recognise a good video?

    This question exercised us for some time, and yielded a list of attributes of a successful flipped video, which Tracey digested into an evaluation framework, or ‘rubric’, by which to recognise – and so create – a successful video. UCL staff and students can access this on the Flipping the Classroom – Resources Moodle area. To give a flavour of the rubric included the qualities of ambition, sustainability, engagement, quality and orientation.

    Next, during the three intervening days, each participant created their own short video intended to enable their lecture to become a dynamic plenary.

    Like students, teachers have different needs

    Few Flipped Classroom participants had experience of recording themselves in this way – they faced different constraints and used a variety of different audio-visual recording devices and platforms. Unless they had other preferences, we encouraged them to use UCL’s EchoCapture Personal service to both record and host their video. This allowed them to capture camera, voice and screen from their personal computer. For those who preferred to create and edit outside Lecturecast, we enabled Media Import within Lecturecast as a way of sharing externally-produced video with selected others. Using UCL-hosted software resolves issues of accessibility, service continuity and contingencies and intellectual property, and also provides an optional discussion thread and finer-grained statistics on use than third-party service providers.

    As each participant showed their video it became clear that inexperience and relatively low-end technologies were not a barrier to a high standard of video – this was an exciting and motivating discovery. Understandably, not everybody is prepared for their first attempts to be shown and, unless you hear otherwise from their author, those which have been shared need to be approached as proofs-of-concept rather than fully honed learning resources.

    Here’s Anne Welsh (Department of Information Studies) on Nox: an Artist’s Book by a Poet:

    Here’s Graham Roberts (Department of Computer Science) on Classes and Types:

    If you have a UCL account, you can log into Lecturecast to watch Malcolm Galloway (Medical School) introduce astrocytic tumours.

    We’ll collect others on the aforementioned Moodle area.

    Some of your practical and technical questions answered

    How to compose a video recording of yourself.

    ‘Frame yourself’ by Dr Mike Howarth

    CALT is active in supporting and promoting flipping and recently held a two-day workshop titled The Media Savvy Academic – Paul Walker summarises the event on UCL’s Teaching and Learning Portal, including some very effective hand-drawn slides – one of which is pictured here – on preparing teaching videos by one of the course leaders, Dr Mike Howarth.

    As mentioned above UCL staff can either create video within Lecturecast – UCL’s own service  – using EchoCapture Personal, or create externally and upload it to Lecturecast. Why choose Lecturecast? Lecturecast compares well to third-party hosting options – like most it allows commenting and different levels of quality, but in addition it offers finer-grained reporting including hotspots (the parts of a video people are looking at most), and enables you to meet responsibilities and needs related to privacy, security, making sure students can access your recordings, and intellectual property. And not least, ELE knows how to support you using it.  If you decide to do the video-making outside Lecturecast, there are a number of freely-available editors available. For Linux OpenShot has been well-received, MovieMaker is Microsoft’s basic and straightforward editor, Apple has the very popular iMovie, and Clive lists a number of tools particularly for narrating and displaying what’s happening on your screen. That’s just a few of the many authoring and editing tools available. If your video has been created outside Lecturecast you just need to contact ele@ucl.ac.uk and ask for Media Import to be enabled on your account.

    To do the recording you can use your computer’s inbuilt video and microphone or (if you need a conferencing mic to record an encounter, for example) buy them separately for a modest outlay. It’s not currently possible to directly upload from your mobile phone – but it’s just a few extra steps to download from phone to personal filespace and (assuming you’ve asked for Media Import to be enabled as mentioned above) upload it to Lecturecast from there.

    You’ll probably want to edit your video. Originally oriented towards lectures, Lecturecast allows for minimal editing – cutting, basically – for 30 days after upload. In the case of flipping, it may work better for you to create your video outside Lecturecast so you can work on the original editable files when you need to. Alternatives include exporting your video from Lecturecast and incorporating it into other material.

    If you’re just recording your screen, do you also need to record your talking face? If you’re really uncomfortable with this, don’t worry – it’s not critical – but some studies indicate (pdf) that the speaker’s visual presence does have a positive effect on students’ attention and affect. Can Lecturecast and Personal Capture stream my video at a sufficiently high quality? Yes, you should be able to get high quality video stream – experiment with the menu to see if it satisfies the level of detail you need.

    You’re bound to have other questions – and in any case, things change. So make your first port of call the Lecturecast Resource Centre on UCL’s Wiki, and do get in touch with us (details below).

    Find out even more

    Tracey has provided some resources including rationale, examples, bibliography, which you can access via the Flipping the Classroom – Resources area on Moodle. There you will also find the evaluation framework (or rubric) for videos which we developed together. If you’re teaching at UCL and interested in experimenting with flipping, E-Learning Environments will be delighted to work with you. Contact us at ele@ucl.ac.uk,  020 3549 5678 (extension 65678). Alternatively drop in for a chat – we are located in the The Podium building (1 Eversholt Street, in front of Euston Station, nearest entrance is on the west side).

    During Tracey’s visit we reviewed the evidence supporting flipping. Another aspect of ‘finding out more’ is the much-needed research into flipping. CALT and ELE would love to work with you on evaluating your flipping initiatives – ELE has a dedicated Evaluation Specialist, Dr Vicki Dale, who is waiting to hear from you.

    Lastly, we’ve concentrated on video here – audio-only has some distinct benefits – contact ELE to discuss these.

    Thanks Tracey!

    As things stand, Tracey is now somebody who now knows more about flipping hopes, fears, opportunities and barriers at UCL than practically anybody else. She will be passing this knowledge back to us over the coming weeks and we will disseminate it. We’re very grateful to Tracey for a stimulating, invigorating – and for many, transformative – visit. Her influence at UCL will certainly outlast this brief fortnight.



    The rise and rise of screencasts

    By Clive Young, on 16 June 2013

    screencast_001Over the last few years we have seen a remarkable growth in the use of screencasts at UCL. A ‘screencast’ is simply a dynamic video recording of live computer screen activity. Unlike a screenshot, which is basically a static image, screencasts capture video sequences of clicks and screen changes often enhanced with an audio explanation. The audio can be captured ‘live’ or added on later.

    The method was first popularised in the 90s via the Windows tool ScreenCam (formerly Lotus ScreenCam) designed for software demonstrations and tutorials. Like all modern screencast tools, ScreenCam allowed various visual effects such as zooming, highlighting and labelling to be added. Its main advantage was ease-of-use, requiring no knowledge of video editing and soon became widely used by teachers as a way of converting of PowerPoint presentations to short movies in the the Adobe Flash format.

    In the last decade there has been an rapid growth of screencasting tools, some downloadable like ScreenCam to a PC, Mac or mobile device but many others now recording directly to the cloud so that they can be published via social media. UCL’s institutional system Echo360 (Lecturecast) includes a screencast facility as part of its lecture capture tools, allowing academics to create short videos without needing a live lecture setup. This has provided a logical ‘next step’ for colleagues inspired to move beyond conventional lecture capture, and many use cloud-based services such as YouTube and Vimeo in addition to publishing via the lecture capture system.

    Such recordings are currently being used at UCL in a number of ways, for example:

    • To ‘flip‘  lectures – i.e. pre-record a lecture, publish this material along with an associated feedback channel e.g a Moodle forum or the Lecturecast systems inbuilt discussion facilities and  use  face-to-face time to clarify and discuss issues picked up through student feedback.
    • To produce supplementary materials to live lectures.
    • To record  talks introducing and contextualising areas of study – e.g. talks to students that help to inform choices regarding their direction of study.
    • The production of materials for distance learning.

    In an earlier blog post I reviewed Davis and Hardman’s 2012 report on how short Echo 360 screencasts (up to 10 minutes) could supplement ‘conventional’ teaching such as lectures and labs. They found a number of uses, contextualisation (associated with ‘flipping’), assessment preparation and cohort-level feedback. The approach seemed to be time-saving,  students were happy with the  ‘rough and ready’ production values of scfreencasts and the project identified some difference in marks when students used the the contextualisation screencasts.

    How can you get started? For UCL academic staff with an account on the Lecturecast service the EchoCapture Personal installer can be quickly downloaded for Mac OS X and Windows 32 systems. Recordings are easy to make and edit and can then be uploaded directly to the Echo System Server (ESS) where they can, like recordings made in LectureCast equipped theatre spaces, be made available as streamed and downloadable versions.

    Other screencasting tools: For those happy to go ‘off-piste’ there are lots of screencasting tools out there, e.g. 18 Free Screencasting tools to Create Video Tutorials Some of the more common ones seem to be Camstudio, Jing, Screentoaster, Screenr and Screencast O matic. Screencasting iPads is much less easy but Screencasting Smackdown – Videos in the Classroom  lists several tools. For example the Explain Everything  app provides a useful recordable whiteboard used by several UCL colleages for freehand drawing of diagrams and equations.

    Tips and tricks: Although technically simple, good screencasting needs just a little forethought. A sensible general introduction is is Screencasting 101 – Fundamentals of Screencastin. As a follow up I rather like an amusing 10′ video by Dan Nunez, The 10ish Commandments of Screencasting.- the first of Dan’s Commandments is Hide the Goods! For a more educational focus try Quick start guide to flipping your classroom using screencasting or lecture videos . Screencasting Variety Showcase is a highly recommended recorded JISC conference session on the possibilities of screencasting by Phil Ackroyd (City College Norwich). Finally JISClegal podcasts about Recording Lectures and Screencasts  is a practical ‘how to’ also covering some of the legal, technical and accessibility issues.

    For lots more information on lecture capture innovation visit my Scoop.it site REC:all (recording and augmenting lectures for learning).

    Image by Manuela Hoffman http://www.flickr.com/photos/pixelgraphix/153725264