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November 10, 2011 / compassioninpolitics

What are the advantages and disadvantages of video lecture capture?

I think there are 4 advantages to lecture capture for universities:
1. Freedom and Flexibility. Allow time shift and flexibility for students
2. Educational Asset Development. Create a enduring digital video asset. $25 is a small price to pay for a lecture–much less a saved version which can be viewed again based on the students needs or future students needs.
3. Blended Learning. Recorded lectures have the possibility of being used as the lecture component of a blended learning experience. This is a way to up the game and disrupt existing practices. (think the Khan Academy)
4. Choice Creates a Market. Present the possibility of creating a market (ie the students now have a choice to watch the lecture with a degree of flexibility.) If they aren’t coming to class, perhaps your classroom experience isn’t anything beyond a lecture. Admittedly, this is less than perfect because students may be pre-disposed to not wanting to come to class, but it might give professors a challenge.

Should the Stanford Business school shut down video operations? Should Harvard? Should MIT? Should any other school?

The economics of lecture capture (based on rudimentary guest-i-mation):
Lectures are knowledge assets. Based on a rudimentary guess, universities teachers make between $250 to $300 to give a lecture on the low end ($35k-$40k)–realize this doesn’t capture the other roles they provide–but does probably speak to the professors investment in their education for 25 years which goes into an hour long lecture. To pay $10 to $20 to capture and save that seems like a very reasonable investment (or perhaps even up to $50). I think they have $10k+ systems which automatically record and shift based on the position of the teacher, which is a net savings over paying someone at $10 to $20 per hour.

Also, if you know that 3 to 5 students will watch the video that wouldn’t have attended the lecture, it seems the system pays for itself. Sure, they’ve missed some of the value of the lecture/classroom experience. However, perhaps now the onus is on the teacher to actually make the classroom experience transformative.

Disadvantages of Lecture Capture
Mark Smithers makes the case against video capture here, but I think the above reasons trump the the reasons he gives. To me the largest two disadvantages are 1) lack of human interaction–which includes in class and out 2) that students might opt out of asking professors questions, interacting, and getting feedback (however I guess this is still available via digital means).

Reflections & Observations About Digital Video Capture:
Ultimately, its a question of how a university strategically 1) records 2) uses the video assets as well as 3) culture and policy of accountability set up by the professor or the university. As I outlined above, video capture offers 2 disruptive possibilities (3 and 4) in addition to providing flexibility for students. I do worry, however, that students may opt for flexibility even when learning could be optimized in the classroom context.

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