Coursecasting (encompassing lecture capture and screencasting)

What is it?

Coursecasting is a way of recording lectures and other teaching activities and making the recordings available over the Internet. The best coursecasting systems make the entire process as easy as possible, requiring very simple, or even in some cases no, knowledge or actions on the part of the lecturer to make the recording, and automating the entire process of storing  and preparing the recording and placing it on the web or in Blackboard.

lecturer pointing to screenCurrently the most common term for this technique is “lecture capture,” a term which fails to adequately encompass the variety of ways it can be used.  In addition to being a very good way to record lectures some coursecasting systems can also be installed on individual computers, allowing the use of a simple headset to record a narrated screen capture to, for example, create short explanations or talk through assignments while recording what is on the computer screen (screencasts).

We have started to use the term coursecasting instead of lecture capture because it better reflects the range of ways the technology may be used, from an individual academic doing ad hoc recording in their office (view example), to recording classes and seminars using interactive whiteboards (view example), through recording traditional lectures (view example) up to recording and live streaming high profile events using multiple cameras.

A coursecast may be a simple audio podcast, but most often consists of audio plus whatever is happening on the computer screen (e.g. Powerpoint slides, a spreadsheet or stats package, or writing on an interactive whiteboard). Coursecasts may also include video, either from an unattended camera in the lecture theatre, or for higher profile events, more polished video produced by a technician. Coursecasts are usually made available after the event, but some systems also allow live streaming so people in other places can tune into the coursecast as it happens using their computers or smart phones.

Coursecasting at the University of Bristol

The Re/Play Project (UoB login required), (previously known as Mediasite), is a University-wide project to record lectures and replay them via Blackboard. The project entailed the installation of Re/Play hardware in 74 rooms across the University, and the provision of software recorders for office computers or laptops.

The University of Bristol is committed to providing state-of-the-art education, using a rich variety of teaching methods, forms of assessments and feedback, facilitated by the latest developments in technology as appropriate. Lecture capture technology allows staff and students to use a wider variety of teaching and learning methods than currently available.

Recordings enhance the educational experience, from capturing everyday lectures for reviewing and revision purposes to providing us with the technology to explore wider educational opportunities. Re/Play facilitates a more flexible learning experience, allowing us to cater for a diverse range of learning styles and fully support the development of a students' potential.

Other tools

The screen recording package Camtasia is also a very useful tool for individuals to make screencasts or record occasional events. Camtasia is affordable and works well, but requires more set up and user knowledge, and doesn't automate the storing and publishing of the recordings.

The SSL Coursecasting project

In 2009 the faculty of Social Sciences and Law put into place the Panopto lecture capture system  to be used on a test basis by a pilot group of academic staff. This proof of concept ran throughout the 2009-2010 academic year with encouraging results. Based on this experience and the response of users, the project was continued and expanded in 2010-2011. Although the Panopto system can record video in addition to capturing the computer screen, the majority of recordings purposely do not include video.

See further information on this project, and a demonstration.

Legal aspects of coursecasting

The use of coursecasting raises a variety of legal and intellectual property rights issues. For example:

  • Who owns the recordings?
  • How may they be stored and distributed?
  • What consent is required from those who are recorded (particularly students)
  • How is access to recordings which contain confidential, sensitive or proprietary information controlled?

Although many of these issues are far from settled, JISClegal has published a very useful guidance paper on the legal considerations surrounding lecture recording, focusing on the areas of copyright and consent.

What help and information is available?

For more information and advice on Re/Play contact: service-desk@bristol.ac.uk.

For advice on effective educational use of coursecasting contact: digital-education@bristol.ac.uk.