Change in academia tends to occur gradually, but the University of Missouri- Columbia turned that conventional wisdom on its head when it implemented a lecture capture system that students and faculty alike embraced with unprecedented speed.
The search for a lecture capture system began in the spring of 2009, after several faculty members approached the technology department saying they wanted to implement lecture capture for their classes, said Danna Vessell, the university's director of educational technologies.
Less than a year later, the university's lecture capture system, by Tegrity, is being used by 105 instructors, with recorded lectures being viewed more than 40,000 times. "It's a testament to the system's ease-of-use for professors and its value for students," Vessell said.
The key to fast-tracking a lecture capture implementation at the 30,000-student campus, said Vessell, was planning. The first step was defining the features of a lecture capture system that were most important to stakeholders. "We were looking for scalability so we could grow quickly," Vessell explained. "But probably most important was that the system would be easy and useful for our faculty."
Vessell and her team compared competing systems and quickly ruled out those that required installation of special audio or video recording equipment. "We have a lot of classrooms, so buying that kind of equipment would be very expensive for us," she said. Tegrity's system, which records lectures right from instructor's laptops and automatically uploads and indexes the recorded lectures for easy searches, quickly emerged as the winner.
The next step was promoting the system to the school's faculty. Vessell and her team alerted instructors about the availability of Tegrity via meetings, email blasts and internal newsletters, seeking volunteers to be early adopters. "We wanted our innovators and early adopters to lead the way and become champions of the technology," she said.
In her meetings with professors, Vessell didn't just tell them about the availability of a new lecture capture system. Instead, she said, she emphasized the different ways that lecture capture could be used for instruction. "We told them they could use it to capture their classes, of course, but we also told them they could record supplemental content, such as lessons or assignments, from their offices or homes," she said. "And we always told them that they didn't have to record lectures with video, because not everybody's comfortable in front of a camera."
After getting early buy-in from influential professors, including several who were not particularly tech-savvy, the next step was promoting the system to students, which began at the start of the fall semester. That turned out to be easy, Vessell said, because students embraced Tegrity immediately. She added that the heaviest use of the system by students occurs when students are preparing for exams.
"The feedback we've gotten from students is that they really appreciate Tegrity's search feature because they can search through an entire semester's lectures to find the particular topic they're interested in."
As use of the Tegrity system spread during the year from class to class, instructors found that early concerns about a lecture capture system's affect on class attendance were unfounded. "We really have seen no evidence of any decrease in class attendance," said Vessell, who praised the university's faculty for embracing the Tegrity system so quickly.
"It's really a compliment to our faculty, because they were willing to try something new in their teaching that would help students learn," she said.
For more information about Tegrity's lecture capture system, please visit www.tegrity.com.