This term, we are trialling a lecture capture system. When a speaker comes along to the IT Learning Programme to give an interesting talk or course, it seems a shame that people miss out because they can’t be in the audience in person for the event. So we are trying out a system for recording and web‑casting.
We talk to each speaker about it, beforehand (and they do need to sign a permission form), and for some the idea of being recorded is daunting. But in practice it’s not so hard.
The Panopto software (http://panopto.com/) turns out to be easy to use and not intrusive. Our technician, Mark, queues up the recording session in advance, and he has found that it’s efficient to set up a whole batch of events well beforehand. This generates a unique web address that I can cite in each event’s publicity and support literature. If anyone happens to follow the link in advance of the actual event, they see a polite message with a link to see other related videos.
A discreet microphone sits on the desk, so the person speaking doesn’t need to wear extra technology pinned onto them. The good news is that there are no cameras watching the speaker or the audience. The slides are captured, along with anything else the presenter chooses to show on the front computer, and their sound is captured as a voice-over.
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While the event is in progress, the sound and visual channels are bundled together and simultaneously “webcast”. This means that anyone who can’t be with us in the room can follow along in real time. They can view and listen using their own computer, laptop or hand-held device.
As soon as the event finishes, the bundled video with voice-over is available as a recording for anyone who missed the date.
Mark, our diligent tech, likes to review each recording shortly after the event, and he tidies up the start and finish, but he says the editing is usually minimal.
So this has turned out to be a low-stress way of capturing events and talks. Administration is simple and quick. The process of recording is not intrusive at the live event, and it provides opportunities for people who cannot be with us in person to take part, either at the same time or later.
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We are always looking for ways to broaden the scope of the IT Learning Programme, and it’s great to offer colleagues from all over the University this opportunity to give a talk or demonstration.
This benefits us – it brings in a breadth of material and perspective that our own team couldn’t hope to provide – and it provides a way for people to develop their presentation and teaching skills. Researchers aiming for a career in academia need to show that they have teaching experience, and almost anyone’s PDR is enhanced by good presentation skills. When their event has been recorded, the speaker can include the recording as part of their personal portfolio.
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Of course there is no substitute for live teaching by an experienced practitioner, and for many of our courses “you just had to be there” to participate fully. But “webcasting” in this way extends the reach of a talk or event, both by time and by distance.