leading institutions to change

I am delighted that we are able to host the Echo360 conference in Edinburgh next week.

I’ll be speaking at the conference about how important it is for leading institutions to change.

The implementation of lecture recording at University of Edinburgh was an innovative project to equip up to 400 teaching spaces and automate the recording of lectures at scale. The University has targeted an improved student digital experience by investing several million pounds in a state-of-the-art lecture recording system that has covered all the campus lecture rooms. Our approach is based on being widely flexible and enabling choices of formats and pedagogy.

The demand for lecture recording at University of Edinburgh was designed to in response to student feedback. The ability to watch lectures again as an aid to revision is immensely popular with our students already, video and audio recordings of lectures supplement the rich set of online resources that already exist to support learning.

The project was managed by a well co-ordinated team and delivered to a high quality specification, on time and in budget. The team demonstrated an outstanding commitment to delivering a high quality service for the institution. Over the last 12 months the team have successfully handled complex academic development, policy implementation and technical challenges with considerable skill and sensitivity. All throughout this time they retained a core focus on supporting an excellent student experience, championing accessibility and inclusive practices.  This work has opened up critical conversations that go beyond technology to discuss the value of lectures, the value of recordings and why we teach the way we teach and has been accompanied by evaluative research into the impact and value at institutional level.

The team has been particularly effective at incorporating research findings to continually improve the service and respond to the needs of users. As an organisation we learned a huge amount from the process: academic insight, student satisfaction, new research, communications strategies, technical know-how and a field-tested working model of how to complete a project of this size and ambition.

The Lecture Recording Project at Edinburgh University is one of the largest upgrades of AV technology in teaching rooms to take place in an educational institution anywhere in the world and it was done across an historical and rapidly expanding estate.  We now have the capability to record close to 100% of lecture activity within the institution. We   offer a consistent experience for all students and support our diverse student community. Many of our students have complex lives and are balancing study alongside caring responsibilities, or the need to work to fund their studies. Recordings of lectures can lessen anxiety about keeping on top of study, and provide a safety net when life circumstances prevail.

The team delivered transformational aspects of lecture recording by:

  • Supporting a programme of evaluation and engagement activities which has opened up critical conversations about the role of the lecture and why we teach the way we do.
  • Running a pro-active communications campaign around opting-out of lecture recording, to be sensitive to concerns raise by academic colleagues.
  • Working with course organisers and professional staff to develop highly usable scheduling software based on timetabling information, to automate the recording of lectures at scale.
  • Equipping 400 teaching spaces, including our innovative camera and recording solution for capturing chalkboards in Maths and Physics.
  • Improving the use of microphones in lecture theatres and increasing awareness of accessibility and inclusion issues.
  • Integrating the new lecture recording service with the University’s VLEs offering safe and secure access to recordings.
  • Training 40 student helpers across the campuses during the first week of teaching in each Semester to provide immediate advice on use of the recording equipment.
  • Offering comprehensive training programme to support academic colleagues to prepare teaching materials for lecture recording.
  • Delivering a system designed to be as user-friendly as possible and to have minimal impact on the presentation and delivery of lectures.

There are many proven benefits to making recordings of lectures available including supporting students for whom English is not a first language and ensuring that our face to face lectures are available in an alternative format for students who require it. Not having to take notes at speed allows students to focus more on what is being said and use valuable contact time to ask questions, knowing that notes can be reviewed and improved later.

This work at Edinburgh has had a wider impact across the sector, we have involved commercial partners, external advisors, learning technologists, academic developers AV specialists, trainers, researchers and staff and students from across all disciplines to deliver one of the most successful large scale roll-outs of learning technology across a large institution with a challenging physical estate.

2018/19 Academic Year: Recordings made/scheduled: 24,000, Student views (year to date): 528,000. Hours watched (year to date): 527,000

We gratefully acknowledge all the colleagues and practitioners in other institutions who have shared their practice with us. Much of our project has been built upon the lessons learned by others. We believe that by considering the widest possible range of technical, academic, policy, and social factors around lecture recording, we have achieved a model for lecture recording, and indeed other learning technology implementations that others could copy. A large part of our ethos has been to work as openly as we possibly can, sharing and reflecting on our practice. With that in mind we have tried to make as many of our guides, training materials, research, evaluation, processes and planning as possible available openly online for the benefit of the wider sector.

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