Alexandra Mauceri, a communication intern for The Wheel, wrote the following piece exploring lecture capture at UC Davis.
Alexandra Mauceri is a recent graduate of UC Davis, with a major in Psychology and a minor in professional writing. When she isn’t working for the Wheel, she’s practicing her guitar skills or reading a good book under the sun.
The alarm blares at 7 a.m. sharp to wake me for a Chemistry lecture. I know attendance is mandatory, yet a 104-degree fever prevents me from getting out of bed. My skin burns to the touch; my throat feels like sandpaper. With dismay, I accept that I can’t make it to class— again.
My health, and subsequently my class attendance rate, was poor during my freshman year of college. At the time, I went to a small liberal arts school outside of California, where the teaching style was labeled “hands-on and personable.” Professors didn’t make it a priority to post materials online, making it hard for me to keep up with the curriculum from home.
I would have appreciated the lecture recording systems we have here at UC Davis, which make information easily accessible for both students and teachers.
While there are several types of video technologies on campus, lecture capture is perhaps the most well-known. Mainly used as a video-capturing system, it easily and reliably records classes and uploads them to UC Davis Canvas for student use. The system is expanding rapidly throughout campus, now available in close to sixty classrooms, including most of the large lecture halls. It’s simple for teachers to use, even if they’re not technologically savvy— all they have to do is turn their microphones on and go!
When professors are given the opportunity to use lecture capture, “reactions are generally positive,” says Joey Van Buskirk, an instructional technologist with Academic Technology Services (ATS). “Some faculty get really into it,” he smiles. They’ll buy compatible equipment (like digital laser pointers) to increase video quality. Professors can use the footage however they want in the future (such as for upcoming classes or personal portfolios).
Nevertheless, some faculty members still have reservations about the system. They worry about attendance — if students have access to lectures at home, will they still come to class?
While ATS acknowledges this valid concern, Joey claims it’s “relatively fixable.” Using participation points can motivate students to attend class (usually accomplished through iClicker questions or in-class Canvas quizzes).
However, Joey wants people to keep in mind that with the rise of the internet, attendance is not solely a lecture capture problem. “There are a lot of things you can just learn online,” he says, especially with the growth of video platforms like YouTube. Students are responding well to lecture capture, and he feels that its positives outweigh its negatives. Some “students [are] really using it and learning from it,” he argues.
With a diverse student population at UC Davis, lecture capture ensures all students— English Language Learners, athletes with hectic schedules, students with health problems, and students with learning disabilities — have the opportunity to learn.
“I really like watching videos of lectures because it lets me control my own learning,” says Beverly Loo, a third-year Animal Science major. She enjoys moving through the material at her own pace and re-watching complicated concepts. Furthermore, she feels that her focus on the subject is sharpened when she has both audio and visual stimuli. Simply listening to a podcast or reading through notes doesn’t provide enough context for her to fully grasp a scientific concept.
Despite the existence of lecture capture, most students interviewed still expressed the need to attend class. Catherine Chen, a fourth-year Pharmaceutical Chemistry major, says that going to lecture increases her morale in difficult courses. The camaraderie offered by those around her, coupled with direct attention from the teacher, keeps her motivated to succeed.
Overall, the future use of video in universities looks bright. Joey Van Buskirk hopes video systems become more standard in schools, and continue to evolve. As they do, we will see them in more and more UC Davis classrooms.