Classroom Capture: It’s Good to Have Someone Watching Over Your Shoulder

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By: Steve Vonder Haar

It never hurts to have a watchful eye looking over your shoulder.

This maxim may seem outdated in today’s video-enriched classroom, where lecture capture systems have become so simple that even the most technology adverse professors can easily initiate the recording of an in-class presentation for later viewing.

Video in the classroom has not always been this straightforward. Recall the traditional process of recording video in a learning environment. In a big classroom, a technician would sit in a dark corner, making sure that the audio is working, the lighting is right and that all the technology needed to capture an instructor’s lecture is up and running.

In this environment, video recording evolved into a task seemingly too convoluted to trust to mere mortals. Instructors had been left helpless – from a video perspective, at least – when working in classrooms not staffed with their living, breathing AV security blanket.

Those days are long gone, fortunately. Technology vendors have transformed the “in-classroom technician” into the virtual equivalent of an endangered species. Packaged solutions have massively simplified the video recording process – to the point where instructors almost take lecture capture for granted.

Undoubtedly, instructors’ growing confidence in video-capture solutions is heartwarming. It’s also very hazardous in an environment where students grow to rely on recorded videos to review key lecture material. Even the most technically proficient among us can forget to take the lens cap off a camera or to flip on the microphone. But with just one tiny slip-up, lots of valuable instruction can be lost to the ether.

As a result, the answer for spurring successful collegiate video capture programs may rest in the increasingly popular concept of “remote management.” The idea is that hosted technology solutions can be used to create a central control room where a technician can monitor the video – and associated lecture capture solutions – from multiple classrooms at the same time.

With the right remote management platform, instructors take responsibility for initiating video capture on their own. But – if they do happen to mess up – the technician in the central room serves as a back-stop for fixing video issues as they arise.

It’s an environment that allows classroom presenters to take more ownership of the video capture process, while still working with a safety net.  A technician may still watch over the shoulder of instructors. But – instead of being trapped in the corner of one lecture hall if they do, they can supervise production quality in multiple classrooms simultaneously.

It certainly is more efficient than the AV support days of yore.  As a smaller staff is employed to address the AV issues of a larger number of classrooms, the number of employees needed for AV support will decline in-step. In this way, remote management helps institutions become more efficient and reallocate their support services to other areas.

So let’s tally the benefits: Professors get more confidence in video capture. Video archives swell. Less content is ruined by silly technical mistakes.  Overall costs decrease. It’s proof positive that the maxim is true – it really is good to have someone watching over your shoulder.

Steve Vonder Haar is a Senior Analyst with Wainhouse Research and can be reached at


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