Over at The Clutter Museum, Leslie M-B has a great analysis of the moonbeams and sparkleponies of something called “lecture capture.” What is “lecture capture?” It sounds like a digital recording of a professor’s lectures that has all of the pitfalls and no advantages beyond old-fashioned video taping, except that the “product” can be posted on proprietary software. It doesn’t take a technoskeptic like myself to see “lecture capture” as “intellectual capital capture” that can contribute mightily to the further adjunctification of our profession and the dumbing-down of public higher education. Leslie explains:
This past week I received an e-mail alerting me that, because I teach in a particular classroom, I can have access to lecture capture this fall. The e-mail, from the campus’s tech folks, reported that of students with access to this technology, 70 percent watched at least one capture per week, and 78 percent of students said they would like more classes to use lecture capture. The lectures get posted to iTunesU and also to Blackboard (emphasis Historiann’s here.)
Those of you who know me well know that I have been an evangelist for the use of certain kinds of technology in higher ed–particularly blogs, wikis, c0llaborative mapping, and certain uses of mobile devices–but I’m deeply uneasy with lecture capture technology because I think it’s a step backward from the best uses of technology for instruction.
Lecturing and lecture capture are by their nature unidirectional. Yes, both lecturing and lecture capture could be made interactive–lecturing by peppering the class period with questions and activities, and lecture capture by adding some kind of commenting or discussion function wherever the audio and video are posted. I have yet to see anyone use institutionally sponsored lecture capture in this way.
The lectures can be shared most easily within corporate repositories–Blackboard and iTunesU–rather than to open-source, not-for-profit educational repositories. Yes, iTunesU has some fabulous stuff on it, but I’m not ready to share there.
It’s also too easy for the university to repurpose content in online courses that could be adjunctified. I’m not sure what the policy is at my current institution, but I signed away a lot of intellectual property rights at my last one. In an age where people seem to think that education is just a matter of “delivering content” that translates into mad workplace skillz, I’m uneasy about providing the university with any multimedia content that could be aggregated into a enormous-enrollment course taught by a grossly underpaid and underinsured Ph.D.
Just go read the whole thing. (I would just reprint it all here if it weren’t for my pesky respect for Leslie’s intellectual capital, my disinterest in “capturing” it for my own profit, and for Fair Use doctrine.) In particular, instructors considering a flirtation with Satan Hirself should read this part:
There also may be a misunderstanding or miscommunication on the part of tech folks and their student workers that faculty should be driving this bus. A colleague was teaching in a classroom where a student was in charge of running the technology. She was going to review answers to a quiz they had taken in class, and she asked the student worker to turn off the lecture capture for that time period. The student refused, saying she’d need to check with her boss. Because the lectures can be posted automatically, the instructor wasn’t certain she’d have the opportunity to edit out that portion of the class (nor should she have to, I might add–the lecture capture should be at the instructor’s request).
There definitely was a gap in understanding between me and the technologist with whom I communicated about lecture capture. I asked if the system could capture students’ portions of class discussion, and I was told that the system captures only the instructor’s audio, and thus–and I’m quoting here–”we train faculty to REPEAT all questions before answering them, so that they are on the capture.”
Ah, yes. Any technology that must be served rather than serves us seems to me fundamentally corrupt, if not also fundamentally pointless. In the end, Leslie’s objections boil down to the fact that “lecture capture” feeds the fiction that 1) lecture is simply a delivery of “content,” and 2) that student questions/interactions with faculty are interruptions of that content delivery and are therefore unworthy of being recorded. I’d like to add another point of objection, namely, that “lecture capture” feeds the popular idea among college students that going to class is optional rather than necessary to a college education.
Take a look at a key sentence in that first paragraph of Leslie’s that I quoted above: “The e-mail, from the campus’s tech folks, reported that of students with access to this technology, 70 percent watched at least one capture per week, and 78 percent of students said they would like more classes to use lecture capture.” Well, 85% of my students think I assign too much reading, 75% resent the weekly essays I make them write, 60% think my grading standards are “ridiculous,” and 90% would prefer that I never asked them questions or demanded answers back during my lectures. I’m sure your students are pretty much the same, unless you teach at Moonbeam Sparklepony University, where the students think they need to do more critical thinking on their feet, more reading, and more rigorous analysis in more essays throughout the semester, and demand more contact with faculty both in class and in office hours.
Where is the demand by faculty for “lecture capture?” Why doesn’t that seem to matter to universities and their IT folks?