Lecture capture has been around for some time, and software like Camtasia, Snagit, iShowU, and ScreenFlow are all somewhat effective at capturing whatever is happening on screen. The problem with user created recordings is managing all that content. Basically the instructor ends up copying files somewhere or other where they get transcoded into a web friendly form, and then hosted for students. Sometimes these recordings get stored behind access controls so only students from the course get their recordings. Other times the recordings end up on Youtube for all to watch. Scaling this single user workflow to cover an entire department or college is an IT nightmare.
Departments around Ohio State responded to this problem by purchasing a variety of Lecture Capture systems including Mediasite, Camtasia Relay, Panopto, and Tegrity. Although these systems all work at various levels of quality, this muddied field of tools is not the ideal state for faculty, support staff, or our students. Following the ‘One University’ model, Mike Hofherr asked me to gather a committee from across the university to look at lecture capture solutions, select the most promising option for our campus of 50+ thousand students, and test that system to make sure it will work. The result of six months meetings and evaluation is our pilot of Mediasite’s lecture capture system which will be operating during spring semester for around 40 instructors during spring semester. Our hope is to fill these 40 slots with instructors willing to record their lectures, evaluate the tools, and pass the survey link to their students so we can gather their feedback as well.
Content that is recorded during the pilot can be either publicly available or protected behind Carmen / Shibboleth authentication. Lectures can be viewed live while the recording is being made if desired, or the lecture can be watched later from a web browser. A mobile .mp4 version of the recording can also be automatically created for students, and the same mp4 file could also be submitted for hosting on iTunes U for broader reach to public audiences.
Two recording options are currently available; a hardware recorder for large rooms and a software recorder for small lecture spaces or use on laptops or desktops in offices. The hardware recorders can be scheduled to start and stop automatically, or manually controlled with the podium Crestron control panel. Hardware recorders will be installed in three locations during the pilot and OCIO Learning Technologies is currently reaching out to faculty teaching in those spaces in collaboration with the faculty member’s college.
The software recorder solution will be available to pilot participants from an instructor website where faculty can log in, create and edit recordings, and host them for their students. The Mediasite solution avoids file management issues of early software recorders by copying the recording back to the server, either automatically as the recording is made, or when a network connection is available.
When the Mediasite server receives a file it performs Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on screen images. Search results are tied to the time in the lecture or lectures when the term appeared, and searches can be made across the catalog of recordings for that course. This search function makes the Mediasite system a valuable review tool for students. Another popular tool for studies is the ability for students to play back recordings at up to a 1.5 times slower or faster speed. Students can also send their instructor a question from a specific time during a lecture and their email includes a link to that specific point in the video.
Analytic data showing the number of views at various times in the lecture is available to faculty with this system, so faculty can see if a portion of their lecture was reviewed many times, and then offer subsequent help about the confusing material, either as a new recording or during regular class.
The server for this pilot has been sized for around 40 instructors. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to participate. Training will be offered over break, and the pilot will kick off on January 7th.