Sharing is Caring When it Comes to Lecture Capture

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By Alan D. Greenberg

When it comes to lecture capture, sharing is caring.

But I’m not talking about “sharing” in the way that Big Bird or Mr. Rogers encourages toddlers to share their toys. Rather, this is about the different meanings invoked by the idea of “sharing” in the classroom.

The very concept of lecture capture truly is about sharing – taking the drama (or routine) of a moment and giving it a place where all can experience it in digital eternity. It’s literally offering your profs, teachers and learners a new way to take a thought, an experience, a method and then share that in a digital format with others.

Ten years ago the concept of such sharing was anathema to many in education. The fear was that intellectual property might be stolen or that putting a professor’s lecture online might make his / her role obsolete. Since then, though, the growing availability of content via YouTube (as well as other methods of online sharing) has made sharing a welcome word in education.

And as video has gained traction, new capabilities that build upon video’s foundation are fostering even more adoption. Video generates viewership information and other data that enhances our ability to predict a learner’s fate based simply on how that learner interacts with content. That information is then shared with those who can intervene and help influence success.

But sharing can prove its value in other ways, providing institutions with savings and efficiencies not so available in the past.

Consider the advances seen since the earliest days of lecture capture: reel-to-reel audio tapes, or cassette audios or – later – cassette videotapes that would be recorded in each classroom and/or lecture hall on a daily basis. Talk about inefficient!  Every day some work-study student or IT staff person would have to make the rounds, gathering up recordings, getting them copied and distributed and archived as needed.

My how the world has changed.

With advances in just about every corner of technology, from PCs to purpose-built appliances with multiple video formats and camera inputs, there are a multitude of new options for how one can model a lecture capture deployment.

It used to be that each room had to have its own capture appliance or PC along with the standard input devices.  Well, the input devices remain essential in the room: high quality mics, HD or SD cameras, and the A/V “stuff” that makes a classroom or auditorium “livable.”  But because of many of the advances I mentioned above, the possibilities abound now for hybrid or carefully designed client/server deployments where maybe the clients are a bit lighter (equipment in each room) and the server / appliance (or shall we call it a hub?) for recording and/or monitoring and managing classroom capture becomes the brains.

What benefit does this bring?  I see several:

  1. It makes it easier than ever to have a mini-network-operations-center – a place where staff can monitor and manage an entire building or campus of classrooms, and jump onto trouble spots immediately.
  2. There are efficiencies when the hardware / software “brains” are collocated with the human brains
    • lower cost of equipment in each room
    • more productive staff who can do more for your college or university, and
    • faster response times, which translates to a smoother operation.

Having such centralized support on hand does nothing but foster an even greater level of sharing. When users want to share their content, accessible technical support helps them put to work the technology that helps them share successfully. Lest I forget, there are other benefits as well: happier campers are more willing to actually use the technology. And when they do, that lends itself to more sharing.

We must all remember that students and faculty are “mostly” naturally social and well-intentioned beings. They are willing (sometimes too much!) to share away. So think about building on that behavior as you plan your campus-wide or building-wide lecture capture deployment: Sharing resources and managing the capture of content from multiple classrooms simultaneously does nothing but enhance the quality of learning.

It may not turn your technophobic profs around in one day, but you might find a few of them more willing over time to share more and more. Big Bird and Mr. Rogers would be so proud!

Alan D. Greenberg is a Senior Analyst and Partner with Wainhouse Research and can be reached at agreenberg@wainhouse.com

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