Opinion: Don’t let ideologues take lecture capture hostage

I’ve seen some educators use it to have their students assemble material–for instance, to show how they would solve a math problem or explain a scientific matter–to great effect. I’ve been working with universities and statewide networks for years on adoption issues, and understand faculty fears about intellectual property.

But I’ve never seen its availability lead to eliminated faculty positions.  (By the way, that same fear existed when videoconferencing came along for distance learning in the 90s.)  If anything, I believe lecture capture enhances the educational process and connections between educators and students.

Much has been made about academic fears concerning the intellectual property and ownership of captured lectures, or the fact that wide variance exists between IT officials’ attitudes and faculty attitudes.

eCampus News as recently as September 2010 published the results of an Intercall survey that suggested that students might use availability of recorded lectures to skip class, and to “free up more time for napping and hanging out with friends.”

That same article quoted a CDW-Government survey that suggested that six in 10 IT staff support lecture capture technology, while only two in 10 instructors are in agreement.

Other negatives often cited are that some faculty are uncomfortable on camera; that faculty in some fields, such as medical education, fear that a procedure captured today may come back to haunt them years later if improperly performed by a graduate; or that students will skip class.

I have news for all of you: students do skip class, with or without technological alternatives.

The availability of lecture capture need not drive up absences if a simple thing called policy and protocol is established at the outset. And I have seen campuses where lecture capture actually drove classroom attendance, for the simple reason that captured lectures meant to support remote, distance learners were being used by local campus-based learners, and leading them to spend more time in class.

As to the other fears I mention above: policy, training, and support can help faculty overcome resistance to being on camera. And the same criteria exist whether education is delivered in person, in a textbook, or in an on demand, recorded fashion.

Thus how often do we see graduates or “injured parties” years later coming back to sue professors for something said or taught in the classroom?  You know the answer.

A compact exists between educator and learner.

Professor: “I’ll give you my all if you pay attention and work hard.”

Student: “I’ll give you my all if you help make this course interesting and help me reach my educational goals.”

Alan Greenberg is a senior analyst and partner and distance education and eLearning practice manager at Wainhouse Research. Author of the three-volume Distance Education and e-Learning Landscape and numerous other reports and articles, he covers web conferencing, interactive whiteboards, lecture capture, and visual technologies and consults to universities and statewide networks on technology adoption issues for Wainhouse Research.  Alan holds an M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and a B.A. from Hampshire College.  He can be reached at agreenberg@wainhouse.com.