In 2008, I began my undergraduate degree in psychology, and as with most degrees, students attended a number of large lectures and small practical workshops.
Since then I have completed a master’s degree which contained only a small number of fellow students, and I have also had the opportunity to attend many large public lectures as part of my PhD. I believe that attending a diverse range of classes has helped to shape my own teaching today and has helped me to try and make my teaching more interesting.
One of the things I have noticed since the days of my own lecture attendance is that of an increased use of technology within higher education.
When I attended lectures to study towards a BSc in Psychology back in 2008, students simply turned up to the lecture and if we were lucky, we had the opportunity to print off the slides before the lecture. This was, of course, not a bad thing and there were some really interesting lecturers who taught psychology, but since then, as technology has advanced, so has the increased use of technology in higher education.
As I am currently a teaching associate in Psychology, one of the aims of my role is to deliver lectures and smaller practical workshops to a diverse cohort of undergraduate students.
In my own lectures, I tend to use a piece of online software called Vevox to challenge the students during lectures and to enable the students to receive feedback as they are progressing through the lecture content. My most recent module evaluations do suggest that students appreciate the use of Vevox and that students do find that this helps with revision (of course this is just an evaluation of my most recently classes and not every method I have ever used).
Vevox allows the teacher to present multiple choice questions and word-cloud activities to the students and this then gives the students the opportunity to anonymously respond to such activities. When I teach smaller classes, I have found this method to be less effective, therefore I try to use more discussion topics and practical activities instead as I know that sometimes technology is not the answer.
As I have progressed through multiple higher education teaching roles within the UK, I have noticed that some universities use technology in the way of recording lectures, and some do not.
Now as an academic, I’m not really sure if I’m supposed to have a view on this (the use of Lecture Capture) but in all honesty, I do think that the benefits of recording lectures can outweigh the criticisms. I am therefore quite happy to record my lectures if the students are going to find this beneficial.
When I first started recording lectures, I was concerned that attendance would decline, however, the research states that this is not the case. As with any lecture class, attendance will decline over time as students progress with the semester, but this is normally not due to the use of lecture recordings.
In today’s higher education environments, we have an increasing number of students who find it difficult to attend large lectures and this is primarily one reason why I would always opt to record my lectures. For a student who may be anxious in a large lecture situation, having the opportunity to watch the lecture in a more comfortable environment could make the difference between staying in a degree and leaving.
I’ve recently come across a paper from Dr Emily Nordmann and colleagues which has been accepted in Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology. I do find this paper very interesting as it highlights the practical recommendations of lecture capture for both lectures and students.
The paper also provides academics with practical guidelines for the effective use of lecture recordings and this resource is now widely available. The paper suggests that effective note taking, and lecture attendance should be used in conjunction with lecture capture and therefore it is not seen as an alternative resource for attendance. Again, I completely agree with this.
In my years of university education and employment, I have had the opportunity to see lectures both with and without the use of lecture capture. While I have seen the advantages of not recording lectures (it will not encourage lecture capture to be a lecture replacement, for instance), I have also seen the disadvantages.
One key disadvantage being in the sense of missing content if you have a genuine reason for not being at a lecture. Because of this personal experience, I now do believe that the benefits of lecture capture can be seen in higher education today and I will continue for use lecture capture as long as I am teaching.
Laura Jenkins, PhD is a Teaching Associate in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University.