Adobe Connect for Videoconferencing and Recording Teaching Sessions

connectI have recently used Adobe Connect in a variety of ways to help lecturers record teaching sessions and give their students opportunities to meet and talk to key figures in the industries they are training in. Connect is a videoconferencing platform which allows people to communicate online by watching and listening to each other via webcam, and sharing documents or their computer screen with each other. Participants can also use chat functions to send messages, and answer questions in polls. No software is needed, as everything is done via a webpage. At City, our licence for Connect means that any member of staff can log on to and set up an online meeting room.

My first use of Connect to support teaching and learning was last summer, before the exams period, when a key revision session for the first year undergraduate Sociology students needed to be recorded. A number of students could not attend because they were out of the country. Instead of simply recording the session and giving students access to this via Moodle, we live streamed the class using Connect and over 20 students joined in from several different countries (around 50 students were present in the “real” class). While the lecturer took questions from the students who attended in person, I hosted the online meeting room online and participants used the chat function to ask questions which I relayed to the lecturer (although it’s simple enough for one person to host an online meeting and lead the session at the same time). We got some really great feedback from students during this session. Those watching from home were impressed that we’d gone to the trouble of letting them join the meeting live rather than having to watch a recording.

JOM834 Adobe Connect JOM952 Adobe Connect

Last term, a number of lecturers, particularly in Journalism, organised press conferences during which their students have an opportunity to talk to and question key figures from industry. While a web-based Voice over IP (VoIP) service like Skype could also be used for this, Connect also allows computer screen and document sharing. Sessions can also be easily recorded and stored on the Adobe Connect server, so that students can watch them again later. Access to recordings can be controlled quite closely.

We’ve also used Adobe Connect’s screen-sharing function, combined with the recording function, as an alternative to lecture capture in rooms which aren’t currently equipped with recording hardware, but where a need for specialist software means we can’t use our Personal Capture laptop kits. Connect doesn’t do a perfect job of lecture capture, because the online meeting room and recording have to be set up each time it’s used, and recordings must be retrieved from the system and posted on Moodle manually. Further, the recordings are not perfect quality and since they are Flash they won’t play back on all devices. However, by setting up a meeting room, connecting a microphone (and/or webcam) and recording the meeting, we have the ability to record a teaching session anywhere in the university. For this purpose, no-one else joins the meeting room; we simply record the session and share the desktop of the computer, which means that whatever the lecturer shows on the computer screen will be recorded along with their voice. The recording can either be downloaded as a stand-alone flash video file or linked to on Moodle.

A Case Study – iTunes U in Cultural Policy and Economics

In this video I talk to two lecturers at City who have used iTunes U to publish recordings of their lectures to their students and to the public.

Dr Dave O’Brien lectures on the MA Programme in the Centre for Cultural Policy and Management, and is currently acting Senior Tutor for Research at the Centre. Professor Keith Pilbeam is Director of the MSc Business Economics/International Business Economics in the department of Economics.

Dr O’Brien began self-recording his lectures for Contemporary UK Cultural Policy, a module for postgraduate students, in the Spring term 2012. He contacted the Education Support Team to find out about using iTunes U to publish them. Professor Pilbeam also contacted us in order to record his lectures on Introduction to Macroeconomics, a core first-year undergraduate module.

Both lecturers have seen impressive usage statistics for their podcast series, and suggested that publishing their lectures had not only benefitted their students, but freed up some class time for questions, or reduced their own workload. You can hear more about their experience in the video.

Download Dr O’Brien’s podcast series on iTunes U or as an RSS feed.

Download Professor Pilbeam’s podcast series on iTunes U or as an RSS feed.

Lecture capture pilot project report

With the help of the Learning Development Centre and Information Services, the Education Support Team piloted a small-scale lecture capture project in the Spring term 2012. The project report is  available to read here, including case studies of use, analysis of staff and student evaluations, and usage statistics.

The lecture capture pilot reached approximately 1000 students on 19 modules in the Schools of Arts and Social Sciences, Informatics, Health Sciences and the Learning Development Centre in the Spring term 2012. There were 4,195 separate views of the recordings during this period, and usage reports show that the majority of use was around the exam revision period.

The student evaluation showed that 91% of students reported using the lecture capture recordings. The most popular uses of the recordings were for revision and to review areas that students did not understand the first time. 93% of students reported that the recordings helped their learning. A very small minority of students (3%) stated that they did not find the recordings necessary.

Presentations from the Learning @ City Conference

As Anna mentioned in a previous post, the entire team recently presented at the Learning Development Centre‘s Learning @ City Conference. Anna’s presentation with Isabelle Marcoul and Svenja Erich from the Centre for Language Studies won the prize for best paper.

My presentation, which was appropriately about lecture capture, was recorded using our Echo360 Personal Capture system. Click on the link below to watch it:


Kate co-presented with Gunter Saunders from the University of Westminster on the FeedForward project, which we have piloted in Social Sciences as part of the JISC Making Assessment Count project. They gave a similar presentation at the Cass Teaching and Learning Showcase in May, which you can watch here:

MPG session from City University on Vimeo

Echo360 Community Conference Europe 2012

On 2nd May I attended the Echo360 Community Conference, held at UCL’s Institute of Child Health. This event was organised to bring together people from institutions using Echo360 in the region, although there were also some delegates from further afield, including Finland and the USA.

Sessions at the conference covered updates and product details about Echo360, and case studies of institutions who have used it successfully.

In the afternoon Ilkka Kukkonen from the University of Eastern Finland gave a presentation on student perception of lecture capture. At the Aducate Centre for Teaching and Development (websites are in Finnish – English translations available), Ilkka and his colleagues have been investigating how students use the resource in their studies. They are also conducting a usability study of the Echo360 player using a Tobii eyetracker. One of the most interesting things about Ilkka’s presentation was his conclusion that students don’t yet have full mastery of how to use lecture capture recordings to support their studies, and that use of lecture capture needs to be more fully integrated into teaching. While their study supports many other studies which have investigated students’ use of lecture capture, it also suggests that there is more to implementing lecture capture than just giving students access to the recordings.

I couldn’t attend the whole day, and parallel sessions meant that it was not possible to watch every presentation, but many of them were recorded so if you are interested in watching any of the presentations, keep an eye on the conference webpage.

Lecture capture in Social Sciences: An interview with Dr Sophie Harman

Dr Sophie Harman is Senior Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of International Politics at City University London. Towards the end of the last academic year, having heard about the School’s iTunes U project, she decided to start recording her lectures and hosting them online. Since then, the recordings have been some of the highest ranking downloads on our site. At the time, this involved recording, editing and syncing the video with the slides manually. Ahead of our lecture capture pilot, Sophie gave a short interview on her experience of recording the lectures and students’ reactions.

Why did you decide to have your lectures recorded?

I was approached by Mo and thought as Director of Undergraduate Studies I had a responsibility to set an example to the rest of the Department by trialing them first.

How did you decide which lectures to record?

I decided to begin with first year lectures because I thought they would be more flexible to new technology than some of the older years, the material in the lectures was introductory and thus more easy to understand in the recordings, and first year attendance tends to be quite good so I had less concerns about the impact of the recordings on bums on seats.

Did you have any concerns?

Yes – that lecture attendance would decrease; that the content of the lecture would not translate well in a recorded format – my lectures tend to be quite interactive with students which could appear quite disjointed when edited; that students would feel nervous asking me questions in the lecture or offering opinions when asked in case they thought they looked stupid.

How did you address these concerns?

I informed students that should attendance decline I would stop filming and remove the lectures from iTunes U; I agreed with Mo that I would review all of the lecture content to check for mistakes and flow of narrative before they were uploaded to iTunes – Mo was extremely helpful in doing this; I reassured students that they were not being filmed and any questions or comments they had would be edited out of the final recording.

Was there any effect on students’ attendance?


How do you think your students used the recordings?

Revision, supplement to their lecture notes, clarification for students with English as their second language

Did you get a positive response from students when you suggested it?

Yes. They were quite impressed that we were doing this and that it would be free and easily accessible.

Will you continue to have lectures recorded?

Yes, it was nerve-wracking at first (I immediately assumed that once the camera was on I would forget how to lecture and start babbling gibberish) but Mo was very reassuring that I would have control over what content would be uploaded and after the first five minutes of the first lecture I forgot the camera was there. The students have been positive about it, and as long as it does not reduce student attendance I’m happy to continue with this. If student attendance drops then I’ll stop – I find it a useful supplement to lecture attendance, not a substitute, and I think most of the students recognize this too.

Lecture Capture: Evidence from other institutions

City University London’s Schools of Arts and Social Sciences will be piloting a lecture capture system in the academic year 2011-12. Since we will be joining a large number of comparable HEIs who already have a lecture capture system in place, there is a large amount of research evidence from other institutions.

In this post I want to give a short round up of some of the common themes which emerge from this research. Lecture capture is quite mainstream in several other countries, notably the USA and Australia. However, different course structures and admission options, such as ‘external’ and ‘internal’ students enrolling on the same courses, the ability to dip in and out of modular HE courses, and even the long-distance commutes which can be involved, mean that much of the evidence from these countries can be difficult to apply directly to our situation. So here I concentrate on findings from UK institutions offering face-to-face teaching courses. Links to all papers and articles are at the end (some are behind a paywall).

Let’s look first at the benefits of these systems to students’ learning. Two kinds of study have been conducted on the effects of lecture capture on student attainment. Quantitative experiments have looked at students’ test performances, comparing the scores of those who have attended face-to-face classes to those who accessed recordings (Engstrand and Hall 2011; Owston et al 2011; Evans 2007). Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of these studies show little difference in performance. By and large such studies test factual recall only, and so do not give a very accurate reflection of how lecture capture might improve students’ learning more generally. What’s more, they examine the impact of lecture capture as a replacement for traditional face-to-face teaching, when staff and students normally report that they prefer it as a supplement (Roy and Roy 2007; Buchanan et al 2011; ALTC 2008). This echoes findings from other countries (Karakostas et al 2010; Glogoff 2009; Vogt et al 2009; MacQuarie 2009; De Santis et al 2010).

Qualitative studies looking at students’ and staff members’ perceptions, however, demonstrate the benefits of using lecture capture alongside, rather than instead of, traditional teaching. One of the most compelling reasons for using lecture capture is that it offers an easy way to devote more time to difficult ideas or topics. This can be achieved in two ways. First, such systems mean that students don’t have to scribble frantically during lectures, missing the wood for the trees, but instead are free to listen more deeply, contribute more, and make more concise notes (Newland et al 2010; Engstrand and Hall 2011). Secondly, lecturers can create short recap presentations of the most commonly misunderstood topics (the so-called “muddiest points”), saving time in lectures and responding to student needs (Pinder-Grover et al 2011).

Many studies show that students appreciate the facility and feel that it improves their learning. The University of Sussex has installed a system in seven lecture theatres and in a survey conducted in December 2010 found that over 80% of students agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that lecture capture supports their learning (University of Sussex 2011).

Lecture capture is a huge help to students with learning difficulties, or those who have English as a second language (Robson and Greensmith 2009; Bell 2007; Engstrand and Hall 2011). There is also a very clear benefit to all students at revision time. Studies looking at usage patterns for lecture capture systems report that access peaks before exams (Stokes 2008; White 2009). Some lecturers take lecture capture even further, pre-recording the more didactic parts of their lectures and using class time for more interactive discussion and activities (Pinder-Grover et al 2011; QMUL 2010; Palmer 2011).

Before using the technology, many people are concerned that lecture capture will harm student attendance. Most people’s initial assumption would perhaps be that recording lectures would reduce students’ motivation to come to class. While there is some evidence of such an effect in countries such as Canada and Australia (ALTC 2008; Buchanan 2011), however, the clearer distinction between external and internal students (i.e. distance learning and non-distance learning) in the UK means that the effect of lecture capture on student attendance is quite different. Here, lecture capture can in fact often have a positive effect on attendance and student engagement – when the technology is properly harnessed (EDUCAUSE 2008). As mentioned above, many studies report that students appreciate the ability to review lectures, but much prefer the real thing. This goes some way to allaying concerns among staff that recorded lectures encourage a passive approach to learning and discourage conversation and (ALTC 2008; McGee and Diaz 2007). Although students see the benefit of lecture capture, they actually prefer the real thing. They must therefore recognise value in face-to-face teaching which they do not get from lecture recordings. In an article on podcasting lecture recordings, Bongey et al (2006) suggest that in this respect, lecture capture is no different from other learning technologies such as PowerPoint slides:

Before iPods, and before the dawn of podcasting in 2004, college professors provided (and continue to provide) students with various other forms of online resources including audio and notes. Similar to the debate surrounding podcasts, these supplements were said to have a potentially counterproductive effect of decreasing student attendance.

It may be, therefore, that the key to maintaining attendance and engagement while adopting lecture capture is to emphasise the aspects of teaching which do not make it on to the recording – thereby creating incentives to come to class, even while giving students the chance to review things they missed or need to revisit.


ALTC, 2008. The Impact of Web-Based Lecture Technologies on Current and Future Practices in Learning and Teaching. Australian Learning and Teaching Council.

Bell, T. et al. 2007. Podcasts as a supplement in tertiary education: An experiment with two computer science courses.

Bongey, S. et al. 2006. Explorations in course-casting: Podcasts in higher education. Campus-Wide Information Systems, 23 (5).

Buchanan, W. et al. 2011. Student perception of on-line lectures within a blended learning environment for Security and Digital Forensics. Paper presented at Edinburgh Napier University Staff Conference, Craiglockhart.

De Santis, L. et al. 2010. Lecture capture – an emerging and innovative technology with multiple applications for business schools. Business Education Innovation Journal.

Engstrand, S. And S. Hall. 2011. The use of streamed lecture recordings: Patterns of use, student experience and effect on learning outcomes. Practitioner Research in Higher Education, 5 (1).

Evans, C. 2007. The effectiveness of m-learning in the form of podcast revision lectures in higher education. Computers and Education (50).

Glogoff, K. 2009. Podcast your lectures: Or, why students will still attend class.

Karakostas, A. et al. 2010. E-lectures to support blended instruction in multimedia programming course. In Proceedings of ITiCSE’2010.

MacQuarie, 2009. Making the most of lectures through iLecture.

McGee, P. and V. Diaz. 2007. Wikis and podcasts and blogs, oh my! What is a faculty member supposed to do? EDUCAUSE, September/October 2007.

Newland, B. et al. 2010. Enhancing the student learning experience with captured lectures. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2010.

Owston, R. et al. 2011. Lecture capture in large undergraduate classes: Student perceptions and academic performance. Internet and Higher Education. May 2011.

Palmer, J. 2011. Touchcasting digital lecture notes. Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges, 26, (4).

Pinder-Grover, T. et al. 2011. The efficacy of screencasts to address the diverse academic needs of students in a large lecture course. Advances in Engineering Education.

QMUL, 2010. Law lecturer turns his lecture material into podcasts.

Robson, N. and J. Greensmith. 2009. Educational podcasts: Some early evidence and thoughts. International Journal of Management Education, 8 (3).

Roy, A. And P. Roy. 2007. Intersection of training and podcasting in adult education. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 47 (3).

Stokes, C. et al. 2008. Does podcasting make a difference? An account of podcasting use in teacher and student-led teaching in two faculties at the University of Sheffield.

University of Sussex. 2011. Echo 360 lecture capture.

Vogt, M. et al. 2010. The impact of podcasting on the learning and satisfaction of undergraduate nursing students. Nurse Education in Practice, 10.

White, B. 2009. Analysis of students’ downloading of online audio lecture recordings in a large biology lecture course. Journal of College Science Teaching, 38 (3).