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Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


The Lecturecast Clinic: Appointments now open

By Katy O Foster, on 6 February 2024

As part of the suite of support for users of Lecturecast available for UCL staff, colleagues from the Educational Media team will now be offering one-to-one consultations via The Lecturecast Clinic.

These one-on-one online appointments can be used to address any queries or topics related to Lecturecast, aiming to assist staff with their teaching needs.

Before booking an appointment, staff are also advised to complete the short online course Getting started with Lecturecast (Moodle) to gain a foundational understanding of Lecturecast.

To book, visit the booking page. New available sessions will be continually added.

Other Lecturecast support resources available:

Dynamic teaching using Active Learning Platform tools

By Janice Kiugu, on 22 November 2019

Active learning refers to any learning activity which involves the active participation of the student and it’s not a new idea – Active learning: Quick guide

Beetham H. (2007) notes that  students learn more effectively when they:

  • are active;decorative
  • are motivated and engaged;
  • can bring their existing capabilities into play;
  • are appropriately challenged;
  • have opportunities for dialogue;
  • receive feedback;
  • have opportunities for consolidation and integration.

There are a wide range of learning technologies that can help support the process of active learning. Among those available to UCL staff are the engagement tools within Lecturecast. Staff don’t need to be using Lecturecast for recording to take advantage of these tools. Existing presentations such as PowerPoint slides can be uploaded, and interactive elements e.g. polling slides easily added.

Before, during or after the delivery of the lecture, students are be able to:

  • Flag confusing content;
  • Bookmark slides they may want to revisit during their revision;
  • Take notes – these are personal and only visible to the specific students. Students can later download these notes;
  • Ask questions and engage in discussions;
  • Respond to interactive question slides.

Staff are able to:

  • Deliver lectures with interactive question slides thus making classroom sessions more engaging;
  • View points in the lecture where students may have been confused;
  • View questions raised in class and respond to these either during or after the lecture;
  • Generate in class discussion while lecturing or after the lecture;
  • After the lecture, view student engagement with lecture slides and recordings;

To find out more or to organise bespoke training for teaching staff in your department/programme team, please contact Digital Education: digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk

Useful links


Beetham, H. (2007) ‘An approach to learning activity design’, In: Beetham, H. and Sharpe, R., Eds. Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: designing and delivering e-learning, Abingdon: Routledge. (pp 26-40.)

Higher Education Academy and Centre for Materials Education, 2008, ‘Active Learning’, Higher Education Academy, available from https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/active-learning-quick-guide , last accessed 21st November 2019

The Lecturecast system has a new interface

By Janice Kiugu, on 23 January 2019

Users of the Lecturecast system will notice that there has been an update to the user interface. The new interface makes finding content and courses easier. It also provides improved search and sort functionality as well a new filtering system.  The change mainly affects staff. Most users may not notice the change but users who frequently access the ‘Library’, now known as ‘My Content’ and who use the engagement tools should familiarize themselves with the changes. The new interface is quite intuitive but if you find yourself wondering where some aspect of Lecturecast functionality now sits, you will find these guides useful.

Note that all content you had access to will still be available.

For any queries regarding this change, please email: digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk


UCL’s new Lecturecast system is live

By Janice Kiugu, on 28 September 2017

This summer the Lecturecast service received a significant upgrade when we moved from our previous lecture capture solution to the latest offering from our supplier Echo360.

For those who have used Lecturecast in the past, you will be pleased to know that the new system offers a more streamlined and user-friendly service that allows you to schedule recordings for your lectures, link your recordings to a Moodle course and manage and edit recordings through the Lecturecast Active Learning Platform (ALP) interface. In addition to upgrading the system, we also have more rooms that are Lecturecast Enabled. Currently, over 110 rooms are online with more being added within the next few weeks.

We believe that the new system will make it much easier for you to schedule recordings and share them with students. There are benefits to be had for both staff and students in ‘Lecturecasting’ events. In a recent survey of UCL students and their use of technology, the most frequent request was for Lecturecast to be more widely available.

The new Lecturecast system comprises three elements:

  • The Lecturecast Scheduler: this allows you to schedule recordings for confirmed CMIS (i.e. UCL’s online timetabling and room booking system) booked events.
  • The Lecturecast Connector block – available on every Moodle course when you ‘Turn editing on’. This allows you to link your Moodle Course to a section in Lecturecast that contains the recordings for your course.
  • Lecturecast Active Learning Platform (ALP) – This is where recordings are hosted. The ALP interface provides functionality that goes beyond just hosting recordings and allows you to create and add resources that include interactive slides and view learner analytics. For students, it allows them to flag and bookmark content as well as take notes, participate in discussions and respond to interactive slides.

We have developed new training resources including video and step-by-step guides to get you started using the new system, and are currently developing more advanced guides which will be available soon. These are available via the Lecturecast Resource Centre

Training and guidance on using the additional functionality will be phased in over the next 12 months.

If you are looking for inspiration and on how you might incorporate the use of Lecturecast into your teaching, have a look at some of the case studies from institutions around the world using Echo360 (the developers) behind Lecturecast.

Below are a host of links to get you started in using the new Lecturecast system at UCL.

If you have any queries or need support, please email lecturecast@ucl.ac.uk

Talking heads – How much are they really needed?

By Matt Jenner, on 13 March 2013

This is me, climbing up a tree in Buxton, UK.

This is me, climbing a tree.

What are you looking at?

Earlier today I was reminded of a topic I’ve wanted to explore more ever since I worked with Carl Gombrich from UCL’s BASc Arts and Sciences programme. In conversation about his flipped classroom model he mentioned, in passing, that people ‘can close the talking head’ and watch the other video feed, make notes, browse the web or simply walk around and listen. This instantly raised several questions:

  • What’s the value of the talking head?
  • Why do they close the talking head?
  • Is there something happening here we have not explored enough?
  • Why did Matt put his picture on this blog post?

I was reminded of this today, in a meeting with an external group I noticed most of the people around the room starred into the conference phone. Most did it when they were talking, others for listening – those who looked to be thinking of complex mathematical formulas and the science of life (or lunch) gave a mixed set of data. Without any research backing whatsoever (hold tight), Carl is right. When watching a recorded lecture, people can close that talking head at their discretion. For lecture capture we’re talking about a camera fixed to the back of the room, a pixellated academic  who goes in and out of shot but does have their best tie on. The other thing to consider is that  focusing on the captured display device might be a preference anyway – as it’s showing the projected content but this is a bigger video, centered to the screen – it’s more dominant.

So what is the value of the talking head?

Value (y) of talking head over time (x)

Value (y) of talking head over time (x)

As indicated by my very technical graph made from assumptions alone (yikes) I’d expect to see it starts really high, peaks around a muddy spot, point of clarification or unexpected event and then finally towards the end. Otherwise I’d expect it drops to very low levels the rest of the time. What does this head add? Perhaps initially we want to see who’s talking to us, but I’d expect most people may know the speaker and instead want to know other questions. Previously these have ranged from:

  • When studying from non-class/campus locations I like to see who’s talking to me
  • I’m a social being, I like to see others
  • Checking the speaker isn’t doing it in their pants from home
  • And so on.

I am sure there’s better reasons, but ultimately we’re generally a social animal and perhaps it’s as simple as ‘I like to see them, at least for a bit’.

Why do people close the talking head?

Perhaps once we’ve confirmed how nice their office / home is and checked weather they are indeed wearing clothes we’re less attracted by this face and we close it off. A real study here would be fascinating. Imaging the same recording to thousands of people and all your measuring is when the talking head is closed/opened. With large classes or a MOOC this is easy or longitudinally over the same service and many, many different videos and viewers  (i.e. Lecturecast) it’s also easy and the data should show measurable results.

Is there something happening here we have not explored enough?

I think so. If anyone out there has done more on this it would be interesting to see it. There’s something in here about clearly highlighting the level of human to human face-exposure. It’s higher than zero but I’d expect lower than 100%. But where does it sit? If anyone’s got more research/data do let me know. For distance learning or massive online courses, I think this information could be very interesting.

What did you look at at the beginning of the post?

Answers below please 🙂

Guardian Article on Lecture Capture

By Jason R Norton, on 18 January 2011

I saw this article “Will video kill the lecturing star?” by Jon Wolff about the use of Lecture recording in higher education. What makes this one different is that it isn’t about how good or bad lecture recording is, but is about how the academic experienced the system, his reaction to seeing himself in playback. What made this even more of an interest is that when I reached the end of the article I saw that he is a UCL academic. So as a follow up I have emailed him to find out if his experiences relate to Lecturecast or another system.

Will video kill the lecturing star?