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)

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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

replay_oxford

Re-branding

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!

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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).

label-156637_640Equipment:

  • 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.

FTP_cableProcesses:

  • 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.

Support:

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

Conclusions

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!

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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

podcasts

More information is available from these sources:

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Panopto is a presenter’s best friend

As part of the IT Service internship, all interns are required to present on their respective projects. Discovering I was going to be away at this point seemed like a fun opportunity to reverse the typical use of Panopto – instead of no viewers present at the live session seeing a recording later, I was absent and my pre-recorded speech was shown.

The setup was very simple: the presentation laptop already had Panopto installed. I selected to record in a small conference room in an attempt to imagine how it would feel if I was actually a lecturer delivering. A member of the Lecture Capture team set up a video feed and showed how to upload my PowerPoint into Panopto – and we were away! With a click of the mouse, I performed my entire presentation. 6 minutes later – done. And all thAT remained was to chop a few minutes of paper shuffling and unappealing facials from the end.

Despite having never used the software myself, I found it very straightforward. It was very easy, and I particularly liked the fact that with my Panopto login, I was able to do the editing elsewhere – I was not tied to a fixed location or PC.

The only issue was that the presentation computer was very slow, and unfortunately the PowerPoint was very jerky. This was reflected in the video, and this couldn’t be edited. For this reason, my own recommendation would be make sure all the feeds are exactly as you wish, and use a computer that runs quicker than a snail!

The reception to the presentation from those who saw it was very positive.

How my presentation appears to a viewer through Panopto

How my presentation appears to a viewer through Panopto

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How does Oxford University’s trial compare to the Russell Group?

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Lecture Capture begins to take flight…

As the IT Services trial has progressed, more and more departments are expressing interest in capturing lectures. Hopefully Michaelmas Term 2014 will see the following departments joining the trial:

nuffield photoSeminar Videoing: Nuffield Department of Population Health

A post-graduate department within the Medical Sciences Division, there is strong interested in recording the Richard Doll Seminar series through the year. The seminar is presented weekly by invited speakers. The department is currently in the planning stage and acquiring recording equipment.

light-virus-1Pedagogical Innovation: William James, Professor of Virology

Professor James is experimenting with producing 10 minute snapshot lectures of key ideas, then integrating with WebLearn for small formative tests to ensure understanding. This would be a supplement to live sessions, and would be ideal for medical students who, in later years, often face an erratic schedule that makes it difficult to attend full sessions.

parisLecture Capture and Recording Discussions: Modern and Medieval Languages

The sub-department of Medieval French has began discussions into capturing a series of lectures given on commentary, as students attend these lectures and then do not revisit the text until final exams. Furthermore, several lecturers are interested in recording a panel discussion.

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