If you record in-class lectures and make them available online, why would students still come to class? If they don’t—but can pass exams—does it matter? While faculty have mixed feelings about recorded lectures, a combination of new technologies makes it possible to allow ONLY students who attend class to access recorded lectures online, for the purposes of review (not discovery).
For several years, UMBC has been providing a lecture-capture taping service whereby student videographers are paid by professors or departments to trek across campus, set up tripods and cameras, capture a variety of lecture content (and formats), and bring them back for light editing, digitization and distribution online through open and (sometimes) closed access websites. While the process doesn’t scale particularly well, it is relatively unobtrusive to the faculty member, who can go about the process of lecturing pretty much the way he or she has always done.
In recent years, lecture capture demand has grown as have a variety of solutions that include dedicated, wall-mounted, pan/tilt video cameras with remote control and automated, scheduled recording. These are attractive (and expensive) solutions, but still don’t address faculty concerns about whether students will come to class if the lectures are available online.
|A view of the lecturn at the start of Mendelson's Spring 2008 Biology class.|
Last spring, after seeing a photo of 15 personal digital audio recorders aligned along the podium of a large biology class, we talked with the instructor, Tamara Mendelson, who explains her rationale for allowing them: “Everything I say is fair game for a test, so I tell the students ‘If I were you, I’d record it all.’ And they do.”
Just like our labor intensive lecture capture service, Mendelson didn’t have to do anything and apparently the students were content to have only her PowerPoint presentations online and their own audio recordings. When we suggested she could make the recordings herself and post them on Blackboard, Mendelson wondered if she could limit access to only students who were in the class. In other words, she wanted to provide the online, recorded lectures for review by students who were present, not for discovery by students who were absent.
Combined with our own lessons learned about simple screencasting software solutions, clickers and the use of a function called “adaptive release” in Blackboard, we realized it is possible to use a daily record of attendance collected by the clickers as a "precondition" for who can access recorded lectures that the instructor posts to his or her Blackboard site.
While we are using MP3 digital audio recorders only, the same process can be used for recorded screencasts made with Camtasia and published in Blackboard, which we have been supporting for years.
Essentially, any faculty member can adapt this cookbook “recipe” to use clickers to control access to any file or function in Blackboard:
- Record the audio of your lecture with an MP3 digital recorder (we’ve found a good one for $80) accompanied by a powerpoint; or make a screencast which combines audio and any actions or screens on the instructor’s vga display into one synchronized file (we like Camtasia).
- Ask at least one clicker question during the class period or (ideally) the lecture yourself so you don't get clicker-only "drop ins" (you might even want to ask questions at the start & end of the period/lecture).
- Upload your clicker grades into your Blackboard gradebook.
- Create a folder where your lecture materials (e.g., PPTs & audio or screencasts) will reside; make it unavailable to students so you can take your time uploading lecture materials.
- Upload your lecture materials
- Use Blackboard's "Adaptive Release" function to limit access to only those students who have ANY score (e.g., activity) for that day's clicker question(s)
- Make the lecture folder available.
- Send and/or post announcement that the day's lecture materials are available for REVIEW to students who were present and "clicked."
For more information, DoIT has prepared a help sheet, which also uses short screencast videos to "show and tell" the process Mendelson will be piloting this fall:
Posting/Controlling Access to Recorded Lectures