Friday, April 07, 2017

Some thoughts on lecture recording

One of the things that came a couple of times at our learning and teaching conference last week was lecture recordings. At the close of the conference the Students Representative Council VP for education emphasised that students want all lectures recorded, however the part of the keynote that talked about lecture recording maybe didn't really support this idea. Rather than bowing down to student demand, perhaps we should first look at the evidence about whether lecture recordings support learning.

There is some evidence about how students use lecture recording videos, however it is far from clear cut whether it is positive use. In his keynote Simon Lancaster told us about a study that looked at when students watch lecture recordings. Maths students appear to repeatedly watch sections of a lecture soon after the lecturer had taken place, which to me suggests a very positive use of the recordings, with the students watching them to understand more difficult concepts covered. Life sciences students binged on lecture recordings just before the exams, so this seems like a rather more negative use, and maybe not something that we would wish to encourage or support.

It is interesting to look at the fairly recent history of medical education in relation to this. About 20 years ago there was major shift towards problem-based learning in medicine, which seemed to lead to much improved learning outcomes with deeper understanding and better problem-solving skills. However, it was also unpopular with the students, showing that what students like is not necessarily what is good for education.

Perhaps before we start recording all lectures we need to do some proper investigation, and find out if lecture recordings are actually useful part of education. It could well be that short Kahn Academy style videos of the difficult mathematical concepts would have been a better solution for the maths students who used lecture recordings in a positive way, and maybe decent summary notes are a better solution for the students who are panicking before an exam.