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Lecture Capture in Loyola Science Center

Did you ever wonder what your students see while you’re giving a lecture? Do your students ever wish they could “hit pause” on your lecture so they could finish writing notes before you move on? Well, now we can.

Two classrooms in the Loyola Science Center have recently been outfitted with state-of-the-art lecture capture cameras: LSC 334 and LSC 434. These cameras can record any or all of a professor’s lectures throughout the semester. Not only that, but they accommodate even the quietest talker or the smallest board-writer: the cameras track the professor, following him/her as he/she walks around the room; the camera zooms in so it can see the board clearer than someone sitting in the front row. Have slides to show on a projector? Captured. On a second video feed. That’s right, the students will see both you and the slides in two separate but synchronized video feeds. Want to use your laptop instead of the computer in the room? Captured. Need to show something with the built-in overhead camera? Captured. Want to switch between any/all of these on the fly? Captured. When viewing the videos later, you can see both feeds simultaneously on the same computer screen.

That’s great. But what can you do with it?

In the Fall of 2012, I piloted this lecture capture facility with two sections of the same introductory physics class. What I did was simple: I recorded every lecture that I delivered and I posted them on Angel for the students to view. The initial goal was just to use this as a resource for students who may have been confused at a certain spot in lecture, or wanted to rewatch a problem solution that they didn’t fully copy in their notes. Plus, a link to the videos functions as an excellent answer to the perpetual question “I missed class yesterday, can you tell me what you covered?”

There were some worries when I started, though. The big one being: ‘Would students stop coming to class and just watch the videos online?’ Thankfully, they didn’t. Students came to class just as much as before, even when they had the videos available.

The unexpected result, though, was the students who did watch the course videos, just not their own. They would specifically watch the other class’s lecture video to get a different perspective on the material. Since I don’t give a pre-written speech every class, each time I teach the material it’s slightly different. A few students found this to be a useful and effective way of studying for exams.

It’s actually a big help when being self-reflective as an educator as well. You get to see exactly what your students see when they sit down in front of your class. After I got over the initial fear that stems from being too self-consciousness, I learned a few things about my teaching. Like I talk really loudly. And I laugh at ALL of my own jokes. Even the bad ones. OK, especially the bad ones. But once I got past that, I could use the videos evaluate my own teaching, or even send them to a colleague to critique. It makes “classroom visits” even easier for those going up for tenure or promotion.

For those interested in privacy/FERPA: fear not! There are no microphones on the students (which can be frustrating at times, I’ll admit), and the camera points well above all their heads. There are no recordings of students in the videos so they can even be shared from year to year if necessary (though this isn’t something I would recommend doing on a regular basis).

And there’s plenty more than can be done with them. I’d like to experiment with having students tag the videos for useful spots. Let them post questions based on certain video segments, starting an online dialog about the course content on the course video itself. This can help clarify things for the students and help the professor improve his/her lectures for the next year. There are a lot of great tools available, and a lot of potential in this system.

Have any other good ideas for using the videos, or would you like to know more? Email me: jeremy.sepinsky@scranton.edu.

Jeremy Sepinsky
Physics