Lecture capture technology has gone live at Durham University, as of 10th October 2018.
However, the University’s English Department have already opted out of the programme.
The new technology programme, Encore, enables students to re-watch lectures. Certain lectures will be recorded and students will be able to access the audio and digital content after two working days on DUO.
The technology promises to benefit students in a number of ways by allowing students to re-visit specific parts of a lecture, aiding revision, assisting students who do not speak English as their first language and providing support for particular education conditions.
The University have released a research summary to explain the benefits of Encore Technology.
Citing a handful of resources on Durham University’s website, the justification for introducing the technology is a mixture of student demand, the step towards more inclusive learning and the prediction that it will have an overall positive impact on the progression of learning.
By Spring 2019, the University hopes the Encore technology will be available in 111 teaching rooms
Durham University becomes the latest to use the technology that has been in place in other universities, such as Sheffield, who introduced a similar technology in 2017.
The treatment of lecture capture material will need to be explained to avoid breaches of the University disciplinary regulations. Students will not be able to share footage online.
Moreover, although the technology will be available in over 100 rooms around the university, individual lecturers still have the option to opt-out of the technology entirely. Teaching staff in this position are required to give an explanation for their withdrawal.
In some cases, lecture capture will not be available at all. Durham University’s English Department has withdrawn from the programme completely.
In an email sent to English students, Alistair Renfrew, Head of English at Durham University, stated that the department had made the decision not to make any English classes available on the new lecture capture platform.
Listing the motivations behind this decision, the email stated concerns about “material and undesirable changes in the teaching relationship; an implied misunderstanding of the nature and purpose of the lecture” and “a lack of credible evidence that lecture capture improves academic attainment.”
The email also stated “the danger of falling attendance at lectures; intellectual property and the question of re-use of the captured material” and “potential compromise of the classroom as a safe space, in which difficult or controversial material can be discussed without prejudice or fear” as reasons for not making lectures available in this way.
However, Ted Lavis Coward, third year English Literature student at St Aidan’s, voiced their concerns about the department’s decision:
“At a university where disabled students face so many difficulties, from overcrowding in study spaces to the continual lack of investment in mental health services, lecture capture was a way for the university to start backing up its claim that they care for those studying with disabilities.
“I sincerely hope the English department come to understand why disabled students have fought for lecture capture for so long and overturn their insulting decision.”
Durham University’s Undergraduate Academic Officer Saul Cahill has commented:
“I’m excited by the opportunities this presents to enhance students’ learning experience and improve the accessibility of lectures for all students”
Cahill stated that he expects “teething issues as staff and students get to grips with the system” but remains confident in the “tried and tested” Panopto system that is being used.
Photograph: Tom Fenton