Case Study

Classroom Recordings Augment Lectures at U of Alabama

Products that can record a classroom lecture and make it available after the fact sometimes raise concerns that class attendance will drop off as a result. For the most part, that hasn't been the case for Geology Professor Dr. David Brommer, who uses a classroom capture product from Tegrity at the University of Alabama to record lectures in his Principals of Physical Geography course. The course, which focuses on weather and climate, includes PowerPoint lectures, video, and group discussion.

The advantages and potential drawbacks of recorded lectures
Brommer's use of Tegrity Campus 2.0 means that if students miss a lecture, they can now rely on an additional resource--an online lecture that includes an audio recording of Brommer, along with the associated PowerPoint slides, and any internet pages or other visual elements shown on the computer during class--including any notes the instructor may have made.

Brommer, who just started using the product this semester, says he had initial concerns about Tegrity's impact on class attendance, but has since relaxed. While he says he does, in fact, believe that a few students have chosen not to attend some classes because they can view the lecture later, attendance has remained consistent throughout the semester.

"I don't believe students are going to use this as an excuse not to show up all the time," he says. "Those who are not showing up weren't going to show up anyway."

Students who are paying attention and coming to class use the Tegrity recordings to augment what they are learning in class, Brommer says. "I don't really believe a student is going to sit down and watch 10 to 12 hours of my lectures the night before a test."

He continues: "Anytime I have anything on the computer [in class], I'm using the Tegrity system to capture what's on my desktop, as well as what I'm talking about at that particular time." Tegrity is installed on the classroom computer, which is housed in the podium; a microphone in the podium records the lecture. Brommer simply clicks a button on screen to begin the recording, then another to end it.

Integration, implementation, preparation
Students view the captured class in a searchable database, later by clicking on a URL in WebCT, which the University of Alabama uses for course management. As long as they have an appropriately fast Internet connection, students can watch the class afterwards at any time.

Meanwhile, using Tegrity has proven to be simple. After an initial few weeks to get familiar with the program and set it up properly, it now takes Brommer "probably five minutes" at the end of each class to access his recorded lecture through a WebCT connection, rename it, handle any editing, and post it. His editing is limited to removing dead air at the beginning and end of lectures; he typically remembers to stop the recording during any moments in class that he doesn't want to record.

For training on using the product, Brommer attended one or two Web seminars and a session with a Tegrity trainer on product details. All in all, he spent perhaps four hours understanding the product and becoming familiar with it.

Impact and future plans
Student reaction has been generally positive, although the product took some time to catch on. As the semester has progressed, Brommer has shown examples of Tegrity in class, along with how to use it; he thinks word of mouth has pushed its use forward. Two student polls taken at different points in the semester indicate use has jumped from 30 percent after the first exam, to 60 percent after the second. "Most of the students I've talked to said it has helped them in studying, because they can jump around within the lectures if they need to," he says. "They can listen, and watch what's going on."

Brommer also says he finds Tegrity useful for assessing his own performance. Once he got past the discomfort of listening to himself, he said, he's found that the recordings have "allowed me to evaluate how I teach, and the speed at which I present things, [including] my diction… It's been very useful to me."

In the near future, Brommer is planning to use Tegrity to record and then present a prepared lecture to students while he's away at an upcoming conference. He also plans to add podcasting of his lectures, though he's chosen not to make that feature available to students during this first semester of use.

Eventually, Brommer says, he would like to create "virtual field trips" for his geology students. He sometimes chases storms, and by using Tegrity to record his experiences--both audio and video--he can share those experiences with students.

"This is an opportunity for 173 students to join me in the field, without really having the logistical problems of having them there."
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