Worried about Student Attendance?

The Great Concern

By far the most commonly voiced concern about Replay and recording lectures is that students will simply stop attending the live lectures. After all, if the lectures are available online, why bother travelling to the lecture hall to attend the live session?


No Cause for Alarm

In fact, whether or not a lecture is recorded seems to have no impact on student attendance at lectures. The vast majority of Oxford lecturers interviewed noted that there was no change in the number of students attending their lectures after they began recording them. Surprisingly, one professor believes it is possible that clever use of lecture capture can increase lecture attendance. She notes that students who miss one lecture due to illness or some other reason are disinclined towards attending subsequent lectures, as they fear they have fallen behind and won’t be able to understand. However, by giving them access to a recording they can catch up with their classmates, and be encouraged to return to classes.


The Science

This widespread concern about possible negative impacts of recorded lectures on student attendance rates has led to a plethora of papers on the subject. Several studies have shown that lecture recordings do not impact negatively on lecture attendance; indeed Franklin et al. (2011) found, like the aforementioned professor at Oxford, that in some cases it actually improves attendance rates. Karnad (2011) discovered that “students use lecture recordings to reinforce their understanding of lecture material, rather than … as a replacement for attending lectures”. This finding is supported by the studies of Soong et al (2006), Traphagan et al (2009) and Gosper et al. (2008), which all found that students use recordings to prepare for assignments and catch up on lectures they missed. Massingham and Herrington (2006) found that the cause of missing lectures was generally illness or overlapping lecture times, and not the availability of recordings.

Ultimately, the evidence is overwhelming that students will not be dissuaded from attending lectures by the existence of recorded lectures. Students regard recordings as a supplementary tool, an aid to their revision, and not as a replacement for live lectures.


Franklin, D. D., Gibson, J. W., Samuel, J.C., Teeter, W. A. & Clarkson, C. W., 2011, Use of Lecture Recordings in Medical Education, in Medical Science Educator, 21(1), pp.21-28.

Gosper, M., Green, D., McNeill, M., Philips, R., Preston, G. & Woo, K., 2008, Final Report: The Impact of Web-Based Lecture Technologies on Current and Future Practices in Learning and Teaching, Sydney: Australian Learning and Teaching Council.

Karnad, Arun (2013), Student use of recorded lectures: a report reviewing recent research into the use of lecture capture technology in higher education, and its impact on teaching methods and attendance,London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK, at http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/50929/.

Soong, S.K.A., Chan, L.K. & Cheers, C., 2006, Impact of video recorded lectures among students, in Proceedings of the 23rd annual ascilite conference: Who’s learning? Whose technology?, Ascilite 2006, Sydney, The University of Sydney. Sydney, pp. 789–793.

Traphagan, T., Kucsera, J. V. & Kishi, K., 2009, Impact of class lecture webcasting on attendance and learning, Educational Technology Research & Development, 58(1), pp.19–37.

If you have questions, comments, complaints, or anything else relating to the lecture capture project, then please contact replay@it.ox.ac.uk.

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Human Rights and Replay

The Oxford Human Rights Hub Meets Replay

Amongst the many reasons to start using Replay are the innovations in teaching and communication it facilitates. The Oxford Human Rights Hub (OxHRH) is based in the University of Oxford Faculty of Law, and, although Oxford staff and students form its core, it has a broad network that incorporates practitioners and policy makers from across the globe. The OxHRH holds several seminars every year, but it is next to impossible to get people from such a broad range of locations to meet in Oxford at the same time and so the OxHRH decided to experiment with webinars.

Webinars are seminars that have both a live “in-room” audience and are simultaneously broadcast over the internet. This allows them to reach a global audience, which is ideal for the OxHRH. So a webinar was the solution to their needs; leaving only the small issue of how to actually set up and conduct a webinar.

Seeking a solution, they approached the Educational Media team in IT Services. IT Services offers several options for hosting webinars, and advised the OxHRH on this occasion to use the Replay lecture capture system.


Replay Rises to the Challenge

Replay is capable not only of recording lectures, but also of streaming a presentation to a global audience in real time. The technology also allowed for distant viewers to interact with the participants in the OxHRH; polls were conducted, viewers were encouraged to send in questions, and the webinar altered and took shape around these questions and responses. This interactivity enhanced the online viewers’ experience beyond what would have been possible with a simple recording of the presentation.

Initial expectations were that about 40 people would attend each webinar. However, more than 70 people participated in one session, and over 100 in another! Feedback from the viewers was overwhelmingly positive.  Moreover, the OxHRH event organisers were impressed by the professional feel of Replay’s output, and the broadcasts ran smoothly, without technical issues. All in all, this was a very successful outing for Replay!


Carrying On

Emboldened by the successful implementation of webinars thus far, the OxHRH is planning to conduct more such sessions. However, this unrestricted service is not something that IT Services is likely to offer across the entire University in the long term. The University is charged for each individual hour of viewing, so large online audiences would run up hefty viewing fees. Nevertheless, these webinars showcase one of the potential applications of Replay, and hint at other innovations that may grow from it. (Note that IT Services offers a separate service – WebEx – a web conferencing service that gives participants the tools to seamlessly collaborate and share information.)

If you have questions, comments, complaints, or anything else relating to the lecture capture project, then please contact replay@it.ox.ac.uk.

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The Case Studies of 2014, Where to Find Them and What to Expect Next

The Departments

During summer 2014, case studies were produced about the departments which were participating at that time in the technical trial; they make for interesting reading, and when read alongside the 2015 reports it is evident how far Replay has developed and been improved. They also reveal how overwhelmingly happy participants have been with the system over the course of both lecture capture projects. The 2014 case studies are as follows:

Cyber Security

Digital Humanities

English Faculty

History Of Art



Said Egrove Park

Please click on the links above to view the snapshots (short summaries of the full reports), which are available in both Microsoft Word and PDF formats in the WebLearn site – the case studies folder is publicly available, so you won’t need to log in.


Coming Soon on this Blog

A further collection of case studies has been produced over summer 2015. Both the full reports and 2-page snapshots will be linked to in an upcoming post.

If you have questions, comments, complaints, or anything else to discuss relating to the lecture capture project, then please contact replay@it.ox.ac.uk.

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Surprise at Professor Simon’s Statistics

Predicting the Future

In preparing for the lecture capture pilot project (now branded Replay), a great deal of thought went into anticipating problems that may arise, how to make the recording process as unobtrusive as possible for lecturers, and how the students will want to use the system. While many of the predictions have been proven accurate, that does not mean there haven’t been a few surprises.

Professor Steve Simon is a lecturer in the Department of Physics, who offers a popular series of lectures during Hilary Term on condensed matter. He was among the first lecturers to begin using lecture capture software, and 2 years worth of his lectures have now been recorded and made available to students. The students have put this to good use, but while many of the predictions concerning their use of the recordings proved true, an analysis of the related statistical data revealed something rather unexpected.

Steve Simon Viewings Chart

Peaks and Valleys

Examining when students viewed the recorded lectures shows that, as expected, there was a spike from the end of April through to June 2014; confirming that students used recorded lectures as a supplementary tool to aid their revision, and to revisit difficult topics just before exam season. Similarly, October witnessed a second spike, as conscientious new students prepared for the year ahead by watching the previous year’s lectures.

Also impressive was the extent of viewing. This lecture series alone received 47 unique visitors in one week, and garnered a total viewing time of 1,545 minutes in another!

The Big Surprise

Yet, the biggest surprise was the revelation that viewing of the Hilary Term 2014 lecture series saw a third spike during Hilary Term 2015. This was in spite of the fact that Professor Simon was giving an almost unaltered version of the same lecture series, and that a recording of this newer version was also available to students. Puzzling as it first seems, it transpired that the students were watching the previous year’s lecture before attending the corresponding one in person. They were using the recordings to prepare for the lecture; apparently conscientiousness is not limited only to students in their first term!

Worries have been voiced that recording lectures and making them available online will encourage students to miss the live lectures; however, the aforementioned spike was not accompanied by any noticeable drop in attendance rates. It would seem that students see recorded lectures as a supplement to, rather than a substitute for, their actual lectures; as a means of revising; and as a chance to re-confirm their grasp of the more difficult aspects of the subject.

If you have questions, comments, complaints, or anything else relating to the lecture capture project, then please contact replay@it.ox.ac.uk.

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Come Fly With Us: Pilot Project Departments

The Pilot Project

Several departments and faculties participated in the 2014 lecture capture trial and continued using the system during the 2015 pilot project. The list of all participants is below:

Biomedical Services
Cyber Security (Centre for Doctoral Training)
Department of Computer Science
Department for Continuing Education
Department of Economics
Department of Physics
Department of Statistics
English Faculty
Faculty of Classics
Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages
Faculty of Philosophy
History of Art Department
Law Faculty
Oxford Human Rights Hub
Saïd Business School
School of Pathology
School of Public Health (Nuffield Department of Population Health)


The Good News

As might be expected, departmental needs and usage of the lecture capture system vary. Some use it merely as a means of recording lectures, while others employ it to facilitate innovative pedagogical approaches, such as a lecturer recording 10-minute ‘podlets’ in their office to support student learning. The lecture capture team has been able to test the system in a variety of situations and as a solution to several different learning needs. The results are positive – all the departments will continue to use lecture capture, and most plan to expand their use (by recording more courses or employing it in different ways) in the coming year.

If you have questions, comments, complaints, or anything else relating to the lecture capture project, please contact replay@it.ox.ac.uk.

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The Rise of Replay



The pilot lecture capture service at Oxford has been branded as ‘Replay’. A lot of great ideas were put forward, but ‘Replay’ ultimately won out. This does not signal a massive overhaul of the software or lecture capture project, but it is an effort to give the project, and the associated recordings, an easily recognisable name and to emphasise the benefit to student learning by being able to replay lectures to support study and revision.

Having decided upon a name, the lecture capture team approached the Design Studio in the Public Affairs Directorate, who produced some excellent designs to use in presentations and on web pages. There are a couple included in this blog post. Look out for them around the university!


If you have questions, comments, complaints, or anything else relating to the lecture capture project, please contact replay@it.ox.ac.uk.

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The Journey So Far

The Technical Trial

The 2014 lecture capture technical trial has ended! Throughout 2014, the lecture capture team worked closely with several departments to explore the uses and challenges of lecture capture. The general experience of the system has been positive, but, as with all trials, there were challenges to overcome. Resolving these taught the lecture capture team much about what to expect, and, perhaps most importantly, how to prevent such issues from arising once the system is rolled-out more extensively. Students aren’t the only members of the university learning!

Lessons Learnt

Staff and Skills:

  • Coordinators  Appoint a coordinator within each department, who will be responsible for:
  1. ensuring lecturers can use the software without issue.
  2. ensuring files are uploaded correctly and in a timely fashion.
  3. acting as a reference and contact point.
  • Labelling  Make certain lecturers know how to correctly label lectures (incorrectly labelled lectures have proven to be a massive source of frustration for students).


  • Fixed Equipment  Use a fixed microphone and camera, making sure they cannot be unplugged or removed, to maintain consistency and ease of use.
  • Hardware Tests  Run hardware tests beforehand whenever possible, just to be sure there are no technical issues.
  • Echo  Beware of echoes in large spaces, and be sure a lecturer does not stand too close to a speaker.

Network Connections: 

  • Wired Connection  Make sure there is a stable, wired connection. Erratic connections can cause files to only partially upload, and wired connections are more reliable than wireless ones.


  • Preparation  Ensure that there is a well-planned, well-organised, and efficient setup in advance.
  • Existing Infrastructure  Where possible, make use of the existing infrastructure (cameras, microphones etc.) to reduce the cost and time needed to install the system.
  • Course Materials  If there are other course materials, uploading these alongside the lecture recordings is a boon for students who were unavoidably prevented from attending the live lecture.
  • Simplicity  Keep things simple. Start by recording one lecture series, then roll out slowly as familiarity and expertise with the software increases.


  • Local Support  Establish a local lecture capture support network by collaborating with the local IT Services, Networks, local AV team, and WebLearn coordinator.


The technical trial produced positive results, and while there were some issues, these were small and easy to resolve. The lessons learnt during the technical trial have been helpful in ensuring the smooth roll out and running of the 2015 pilot project.

If you have questions, comments, complaints, or anything else relating to the lecture capture project, please contact replay@it.ox.ac.uk.

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The New Intern

An Intern’s Footwear

Last summer this blog was maintained by an intern working closely with the lecture capture team, and the team has elected to employ a summer intern again this year. That’s me. I’m going to be taking over the blog for the next couple of months, attempting to fill the shoes of last year’s intern.

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Who Am I?

I am a student at Oxford (St Anne’s College), and have just finished the first year of a two year MPhil program in Traditional East Asia (essentially I study premodern East Asian history and languages) at the Oriental Institute. I did my undergraduate degree in History and Japanese at the University of Sheffield, so, although I do study the entire East Asian region, my focus is geared more towards Japan, and particularly its medieval period. However, I have also taken some courses on different education systems around the globe, which sparked my interest in e-learning and its impact upon students. That’s the main reason I applied for this internship; it gives me the chance to get hands-on experience with technology around the university, and maybe, in some small way, to contribute to the improvement of the University’s use of technology in classrooms and lecture halls.

What Will I do?

Aside from the blog, I’ll be speaking with academics, IT staff, and students to get their praises, grievances, and recommendations concerning lecture capture. Plus, I’ll be investigating innovative and unexpected uses of the software. As I gather information I will report my findings here. I hope you will all enjoy exploring the pilot project, both the good and bad, together with me!

If you have questions, comments, complaints, or anything else relating to the lecture capture project, then please contact  replay@it.ox.ac.uk.

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Lecture Capture Continues Onwards

We Never Left

We’re back! It may have been a few months since this blog was last updated, but the lecture capture project has continued unabated. The technical trial, that took place in 2014, was completed, and provided the lecture capture team with valuable knowledge on how to improve the system and address any issues that may arise during further implementation. These lessons are detailed in an separate post.

The Pilot Project

A university-wide pilot project was implemented from the start of 2015. This involved more departments, more courses, and more students than did the technical trial (a list of participating departments is available in a separate blog post). Many departments indicated their interest in lecture capture and began trialling it, some more extensively than others. Some made use of the software for recording lectures, and so helped students prepare for essays and exams. Others employed it in innovative ways, creating new teaching approaches or making material available to ever broader audiences. Many of the departments involved with the technical trial, obviously impressed with the results, have chosen to roll out lecture capture to new courses this year, expanding their use of the system and trying to ensure more students benefit from it. Meanwhile, students have made use of it in ever greater numbers, and proven enthusiastic adopters of this new tool. It has been a busy and interesting year!


The Results Are In!

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be speaking with those who participated in the pilot project and gathering feedback from student questionnaires. I’ll post the results here and detail the most interesting and innovative uses of lecture capture.

If you have questions, comments, complaints, or anything else relating to the lecture capture project, please contact  replay@it.ox.ac.uk.

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Exploring the learning benefits of lecture capture – recorded presentation

On Monday 24 November 2014, the team presented a talk as part of the IT Learning Programme’s ‘Engage’ series, on the topic of ‘Exploring the learning benefits of lecture capture’. Debra Garretson (Head of Account Management at Panopto) gave an overview of Panopto and how it is being used by some universities. Jill Fresen (Lecture Capture Project Manager) described the current Panopto trial (2014 calendar year), including the departments using the system, and how some lecturers are already pre-recoding ‘podlets’ (coined by Prof William James) to record ‘nuggets’ at their desk, to augment the learning resources available to students.

True to form, the talk was recorded using Panopto (integrated audio and slides – no video on this occasion), and is available to listen to: https://oxforduniversity.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Sessions/List.aspx#sortColumn=1&sortAscending=false&folderSets=7


More information is available from these sources:

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