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SJC Lecture Capture Program Enhances Classroom Learning

by William McAllister

fc bill mcallister main

Mathematics and Computer Science Professor William McAllister

Over the past 15 years, advances in technology have transformed the ways in which course material is conveyed to students. We have replaced chalk and blackboards with electronic pens and computer-recorded whiteboards, paper handouts with electronic Web-based postings, overhead projectors with computer-driven projections, and our Wi-Fi-available network has transformed our two campuses into one integrated computer laboratory. Our students can attend courses online, or attend intercampus courses, through which they can fully interact with their instructor and fellow students without leaving their home campus. The most recent venture into educational technology at St. Joseph’s College is lecture capture.

Lecture capture gives instructors the ability to record audio, video, projected materials and board writings during a lecture, and then post the recording to a cloud-based storage system. Students can “attend” the lecture using any computer connected to the Internet, their smart phones or any other Internet-enabled mobile device. The lecture can be attended remotely as it is being recorded, or at a time more convent to the student.

The advertised benefits of this technology are to permit students to “attend” a lecture they missed, to review parts of a lecture until they master the material and to increase classroom learning by reducing the distractions associated with note taking. In addition, the incorporation of recorded lectures into online courses brings so-called distance learning closer to the traditional classroom-based experience.

Our venture into lecture capture began during the 2011-2012 academic year with a pilot program aimed at identifying the commercial system that would best suit the needs of our academic community and, most importantly, assessing its ability to improve the educational experience of our students. The features and cost of four systems were compared, and two systems were selected for evaluation during the spring 2012 semester. Eleven faculty members and 200 students participated in the evaluation phase of the program, which included the capture of lectures in health, education, mathematics, management, business, communications and computer science courses. Some of these courses were taught online, and some were taught in the traditional classroom venue.

Surveys conducted after the evaluation program was completed indicated that 82 percent of the students felt that lecture capture helped them understand the course material; 92 percent of the students and 100 percent of the faculty who participated in the program recommended that the College adopt the technology. Furthermore, quantitative evaluations of the technology’s effect on the learning outcomes of students attending traditional classroom-based courses revealed that the average midterm grade, B, improved by 4 percent to a B+ when compared to a control group taught by the same professor in which lecture capture was not used. For students participating in online courses, the effect on the learning outcomes was more pronounced, in that their average midterm grade increased by 10 percent (C average rose to a B average).

Based on these results, the College adopted a lecture capture system designed by the Pittsburgh-based software company Panopto at the beginning of the 2012-2013 academic year, and our instructional technology training staff developed faculty-training modules in this technology. (The simplicity of the Panopto system eliminated any need to train students in the use of its Web-based lecture viewer.) Instructors can record lectures given in their classrooms on both campuses, as well as in their offices or homes. Recorded lectures are archived in cloud-based storage, which permits instructors to incorporate them into future online course offerings.

During the fall 2012 semester, several instructors used the technology to record and deliver lectures that were canceled during the recovery period after Superstorm Sandy. Our most recent surveys indicate that 86 percent of the students who attended courses in which lecture capture was used during the fall 2012 semester reported that they did view the recorded lectures. In addition, 89 percent of these students and 100 percent of the participating faculty felt that viewing recorded lectures help students understand the course material.

Consideration is being given to expanding our lecture capture ability into the rooms in which we conduct our Liberal Arts Colloquium lectures and our Presidential Lecture Series so these educational experiences will be archived and available to students, staff and faculty on both campuses at a time convenient to them. In addition, a plan is being formulated to expand the incorporation of captured lectures into more of our online course offerings, and to expand use of lecture capture in the traditional classroom setting.


Mr. McAllister is a professor of mathematics and computer science on the Long Island Campus.


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