Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Recording lectures on a larger scale

Today we (a number of people from Utrecht University, Amsterdam and Maastricht) visited the Eindhoven University of Technology to see their approach for recording lectures. It was a very valuable and interesting talk. Many thanks to Michiel Schok for giving us some of his scarce time.

There were a number of interesting lessons I recognised from the approach in Eindhoven:
  • There are a lot of different parties that need to be involved (just have a look at the slide Michiel is showing off here ;-)
  • In Eindhoven they have chosen to go for a broad approach: they are managing to capture 50 hours of lectures every week using three capture sets. Respect!
  • Try to work with fixed sets, this saves a lot of hassle and allows for easier recording. This does mean you have to take the assigning of specific lecture halls into account.
  • A discussion arose regarding the pedagogical implications of recording and broadcasting lectures. Interestingly the main arguments for the present use of recording lectures at Eindhoven is to allow the current student to review their lecture, view a missed lecture and to get new groups to be able to view lectures they were otherwise unable to attend.
    The discussion arose whether this was a bad thing. Personally I do not believe this to be a bad approach at all. This does in fact mimic the adoption pattern of VLE's over the past years. New technology is being used as an extra facility to enhance learning and few teachers are using this as a substitute to a lecture itself, yet.
    I believe that teachers need the chance to get used to this new technology with all the advantages (and disadvantages) it has to offer. There are bound to be a few early adopters who will pick up on the possibilities and innovation will grow from there on. For a widespread innovative use of this technology I believe the use will first have to become 'economical' for the teacher. In this calculation I would include cost (hours invested by the teacher) versus output (learning outcomes and time saved).
    So for now I would strive for a broad adoption at a basic level. If I see the enthousiasm with which students are responding in Eindhoven (and to our small scale pilot) it definitely makes it worth while.
  • Eindhoven is using the Mediasite hardware and software. As I had already learned from earlier quotes, this is by no means a cheap solution. However, the manual operation of the recording sets is also an expensive part of the financial picture. This encourages me further to work towards an operator free recording of lectures. Only in that manner can you manage to cost effectively record a lot of lectures. The quality of the camera work will be less, but you can also offer customers the option of paying more for a lecture which has been recorded by an operator.
  • I was wondering how important the features Live Streaming and Editing where. I was interested to hear that these were not being used much at all in Eindhoven.

So all in all a very interesting visit. Many thanks again to Michiel.

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