The Gryphon asks: should it be compulsory that lectures are recorded?

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Yes – Edmund Goldrick

A lot of my position on this stems from the fact that it works in my home university, the Australian National University, so why not here? There may be areas where laws and circumstances are different and negate my points in which case I’m happy to be corrected. And yes, this would also mean that attending lectures would be non-compulsory.

My reasons in favour involve equity of access, convenience, and the self-interest of the university. Mostly, my convictions on equity are personal. A close friend of mine is trying to study but has an auto-immune disease. This means that she is unable to attend lectures for weeks or months at a time. On the occasions she does manage to attend, she will immediately leave if anyone in the lecture or seminar is clearly contagious, as it just isn’t worth the risk. Without recorded lectures it would not be feasible for her to graduate. There are similar equity issues for anyone who has other financial commitments that require employment during university hours, or anyone who has sudden illness or personal tragedy befall them. Recorded lectures will make the difference between catching up and having to repeat. That’s six to twelve months of someone’s life and career at stake.
Whilst lecture capture may prove to be an enabler for hungover students to skip lectures, this isn’t fair to the circumstances that affect some students’ lives. Firstly, they’re paying for a service, and if they don’t want to attend then, as an adult, that’s their choice. Secondly, speaking from experience, good lecturers will still have high turnouts as students will want to attend in person because their lectures are fun and engaging; so it’s also a good mechanism for monitoring a lecturer’s performance.
To illustrate the convenience, there’s a man in one of my ANU classes who studies part-time. He works a 9-5, pops in for the seminars during his lunch break, and watches lectures at the weekend. That’s brilliant. Someone who would have otherwise have had to give up his livelihood to study can fit it into his schedule. University should not just be for young people with no other commitments.
This also shows how it’s in the interest of the university. If more part-time students who study primarily online can be drawn in, then that brings more paying students, but with less stress placed on facilities. They might even pass on some of those gains to students.
The worry of recordings being used against lecturers is a fair one, but copyright protection should be sufficient. What lecturers say can – and already does – get used against them. So, in regards to lecture capture, threat of expulsion for violating copyright law would be a good deterrent.
Lastly, with the cancelling of the check in system, I imagine significant IT resources will have been freed up.


No – Nathan Olsen 

Lecture capture: at best, a useful revision tool; at its worst, a disincentive to participate in an educational process for which you pay (at least) £9,000 per year. Though there would be advantages to a blanket policy of lecture capture, these advantages would be considerably outweighed by the possible disadvantages of such a policy.
Firstly, the wholesale adoption of lecture capture would force lecturers to do something which some of them do not want to do. Do we really want to learn in an environment in which professors feel their academic freedom and integrity is constrained? At the very least, academics may feel unhappy about such a policy, which could lead to a decline in the quality of teaching. Alternatively, academics may even reconsider whether they are operating and researching in a suitable environment for themselves, if such an environment fosters a feeling of compulsion rather than choice.
Furthermore, the adoption of a mandatory policy regarding lecture capture is not only harmful to staff, but to students. As can be seen by the amount of students turning up to lectures which will later be available on the VLE, lecture capture has a negative impact on student attendance. It may be argued that lecture capture allows students to access the same information other students receive directly in lectures, yet this is not the case. Academic staff have repeatedly stated during lectures that watching lectures at home and attending lectures in a lecture theatre are different experiences. That is to say, if you don’t attend a lecture you will miss out on valuable discussion with your peers, which can only have a positive impact on your education. Remember, this is your education. You should be making the most of it. This must involve attending lectures.
On a more philosophical note, the adoption of lecture capture as a compulsory blanket policy for all lectures would only serve to demonstrate the further commodification of education. As students, we pay money to learn (and this amount of money will probably increase with the government’s abolition of a cap on tuition fees). This already indicates that we are not engaging in an educational experience, but rather buying into the dominant capitalist culture which obliges us to go to university, get a job, and contribute to the economy. How would lecture capture change this? The widespread adoption of lecture capture would further alienate us from our fellow students and academic staff, thus making a university degree the mark of an atomised individual.
In summary, not all lectures should be recorded using lecture capture. Why? Lecture capture degrades academic staff and their research, devalues the education of students and alienates us from our fellow human-beings.

(Image courtesy of Wessex Scene)

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