August 16, 2011 2 Comments
Dr Sophie Harman is Senior Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of International Politics at City University London. Towards the end of the last academic year, having heard about the School’s iTunes U project, she decided to start recording her lectures and hosting them online. Since then, the recordings have been some of the highest ranking downloads on our site. At the time, this involved recording, editing and syncing the video with the slides manually. Ahead of our lecture capture pilot, Sophie gave a short interview on her experience of recording the lectures and students’ reactions.
Why did you decide to have your lectures recorded?
I was approached by Mo and thought as Director of Undergraduate Studies I had a responsibility to set an example to the rest of the Department by trialing them first.
How did you decide which lectures to record?
I decided to begin with first year lectures because I thought they would be more flexible to new technology than some of the older years, the material in the lectures was introductory and thus more easy to understand in the recordings, and first year attendance tends to be quite good so I had less concerns about the impact of the recordings on bums on seats.
Did you have any concerns?
Yes – that lecture attendance would decrease; that the content of the lecture would not translate well in a recorded format – my lectures tend to be quite interactive with students which could appear quite disjointed when edited; that students would feel nervous asking me questions in the lecture or offering opinions when asked in case they thought they looked stupid.
How did you address these concerns?
I informed students that should attendance decline I would stop filming and remove the lectures from iTunes U; I agreed with Mo that I would review all of the lecture content to check for mistakes and flow of narrative before they were uploaded to iTunes – Mo was extremely helpful in doing this; I reassured students that they were not being filmed and any questions or comments they had would be edited out of the final recording.
Was there any effect on students’ attendance?
How do you think your students used the recordings?
Revision, supplement to their lecture notes, clarification for students with English as their second language
Did you get a positive response from students when you suggested it?
Yes. They were quite impressed that we were doing this and that it would be free and easily accessible.
Will you continue to have lectures recorded?
Yes, it was nerve-wracking at first (I immediately assumed that once the camera was on I would forget how to lecture and start babbling gibberish) but Mo was very reassuring that I would have control over what content would be uploaded and after the first five minutes of the first lecture I forgot the camera was there. The students have been positive about it, and as long as it does not reduce student attendance I’m happy to continue with this. If student attendance drops then I’ll stop – I find it a useful supplement to lecture attendance, not a substitute, and I think most of the students recognize this too.