Capturing Your Course

Faculty Focus: Steven Keller, Department of Chemistry

The idea of lecture capture (recording audio, and/or video of course content) is not new in academia or at Mizzou. At a panel discussion in October 2009, instructors who were experienced with lecture capture, and those new to using the technology shared their experiences and best practices with colleagues and technology support staff.

Tegrity lecture capture software was released on campus for pilot testing in spring 2009 in which three chemistry professors participated: Steven Keller, Phil Silverman, and John Adams. Steven Keller and John Adams, who attended the panel discussion, explained how they began video taping lectures eight years ago. They taped lectures in the Introduction to Chemistry large lecture courses where the ability to review difficult concepts was useful for students. They explained that lecture capture was not always as easy as it is now with current software. In fact, it was cumbersome and time-consuming.

They hired graduate students to set up video cameras and microphones in the auditorium to tape each lecture. After taping was complete, an additional six hours was spent digitizing and finalizing the video for student viewing. Although the students liked the resource, Steven and John gave up on the idea after the graduate students who knew how to run the system graduated.

After the release of Tegrity software on campus they were able to revive the idea, and the new software drastically reduced the overhead time associated with producing lecture capture video. The video quality was also noticeably improved. Quite literally, the “click-and-go” process on the instructor’s computer, or teacher’s station replaced the need for additional assistance, and the automatic rendering and upload to Blackboard took minutes to complete, not hours. Steven now uses Tegrity to demonstrate chemical reactions, capture the lecture topic of the day, and work through exam questions with the class. In the auditorium where he teaches, he uses a projector splitter cable to connect his computer to the projector and a document camera. When he’s working through exam questions, he writes out the questions and solutions on a sheet of paper that is on the document camera and is projected onto the screen for students to see. The Tegrity software captures the image on the screen and Steven’s voice into a video file.

Steven advises, “I wouldn’t make anything on Tegrity mandatory. Setting it up efficiently takes a little practice, but you can easily set it up in five minutes between classes. Ask your students what other things they might like Tegrity used for; they may have some creative applications.”

At the end of the pilot in Spring 2009 Jacquelyn Sandone, Arts and Science Specialist in Educational Technologies, surveyed students who were enrolled in the courses that used Tegrity. A small group of students were also asked to participate in a focus group. The results of the survey and focus group confirmed Tegrity’s usefulness, and managed to deflate some of the negative opinions surrounding the tool.

Seventy percent of students surveyed found Tegrity to be “very useful” with most students noting that they accessed Tegrity videos an average of once a week during the semester. Over 90 percent of the students surveyed noted that although lectures were available online they were not more likely to miss class. This finding contradicts the opinion of some instructors who are hesitant to use the tool for concern over decreased class attendance. Steven added during the panel discussion the importance of making class worthwhile, “If you make class a value-added experience, students will come. If you don’t, they won’t.”

When students had to miss class, however, those surveyed said they preferred to watch the Tegrity video of the lecture over borrowing a classmate’s notes, or contacting the instructor. The videos are also helpful to student-athletes who may miss classes due to conflicting sports schedules, students whose native language is not English, and students with a disability who might hire a note taker. Especially in the era of H1N1, students who are sick need not rely on notes from another student. Maybe most importantly, all students can benefit from reviewing material throughout the semester. “I am hopeful that long-term retention of material will be increased if students review lectures (and their notes) not only when preparing for exams, but as a general study aid throughout the semester.”

Many students watch the Tegrity videos on their computer as they stream directly from the server. Instructors have the option though to allow students to download the videos as MP3 files, podcasts, and RSS feeds. Instructors can also allow students to download podcasts (podcasts containing audio and video).

To enable Tegrity access in your Blackboard course site, e-mail tegrity@missouri.edu. For more information about Tegrity, contact ET@MO’s team of student technical assistants (the META Team) at meta@missouri.edu or (573) 884-6966.