Lecture Capture Gathering Momentum

"One small step for lecture capture, one giant leap for Royal Holloway." VP Education Jack O'Neill reports on the progress being made in our fight for lecture capture.

At Academic Board last week, a small step was taken towards securing lecture capture for all students – but this is a giant leap for Royal Holloway.

For years, this debate has dragged on with discussions not involving the right people, with the same excuses and with no progress. Now, some of these obstacles are certainly still in place, but there is hope that we are heading in the right direction and for the first time ever, we have some momentum behind us.

What happened at Academic Board?

With Academic Board being the highest College Committee for academic matters, with all Heads of Departments and College Senior Management present, a paper was submitted from a College Vice Principal on the ‘accessibility of lecture content’. The paper proposed that any lectures that were deemed ‘content-heavy’ should make the lecture content accessible to students.

This certainly isn’t a bad proposition, but surely it is a given, right? And there were also some fundamental concerns that we had with the paper:

  • Who defines ‘content-heavy’ – surely all lectures have content in? The term is so subjective, in my opinion, anything on a Monday morning is heavy in content!
  • Making lecture content accessible doesn’t necessary provide the lecture recordings – these are the simplest way to make lecture recordings available, and are what you as the student body have overwhelmingly told us you want.
  • The paper was also based on discussions that didn’t involve all of the necessary people, therefore, it didn’t address all of the technical hurdles that some are still placing in the way of reliable lecture recordings.
  • The paper didn’t provide a structure around the monitoring of lecture capture – this means that it would be difficult to know when lectures were being recorded, why they weren’t being recorded and ultimately, disabling you as students on holding the College to account on these questions!
  • The paper didn’t reflect the reasons that we heard directly from you on the use of lecture capture. In our lecture capture survey, 98% of students said that would benefit from lecture capture. The reasons for this ranged greatly, but primarily you told us that you would use lecture capture for revision and to recap work – the suggestion in this paper didn’t reflect that.
  • And we still heard the same excuses. Consistently, obstacles such as declining attendance, are preventing lecture capture from taking off. These constant myths are a barrier that has been put up time and time again.
  • It still didn’t go far enough. Royal Holloway promises to provide a high-quality education for all students, from all backgrounds. At the moment, the lack of a proficient lecture capture service means that you as students of Royal Holloway aren’t getting the support that students at other universities are getting.

What is happening now?

A Project Board has been convened in order to establish whether concerns over technical capability are legitimate. If this Board finds that there aren’t any issues with the technology, then we will be pushing for the full implementation of a policy that ensures lecturers are recording their lectures. I am confident that we have gained the necessary support on this issue, and it is encouraging that this Project Board is going to be led by a Senior Vice Principal, we have put this issue on the agenda.

Indeed, since Academic Board, I have had encouraging meetings with members of College staff who are keen to act on the issue of lecture capture as soon as possible. Recent events have, therefore, proven that our actions at Academic Board were effective – and I believe have paved the way for success on lecture capture.

There are still hurdles that we must get beyond, not least, facing the continuous battle against the myths that stand in the way of lecture capture. However, I remain hopeful that with the full lobbying power of the Students’ Union (that includes you!) we will be able to successfully increase the usage of lecture capture at Royal Holloway.

The power of the Students’ Union lies in your hands. With lecture capture featuring so widely in the recent Sabbatical Officer elections, you have already had a say and given us the ammunition to get this kickstarted. I believe that we are heading in the right direction on this issue, but it is only with the whole student body pressing on this issue that we can drive it forward!

Jack O'Neill // Vice President Education