Students miss a class? No worries. Lecture-capture software has it covered


When students at the University of Florida miss a lecture, it’s no longer a problem. Thanks to the university’s enterprise-wide lecture-capture system, they can go online and watch a video of it whenever and as often as they want.

The university is using the Mediasite Enterprise Video Platform from Sonic Foundry to capture and manage classroom-recorded videos. Mediasite lecture-capture software runs behind the scenes, either in a college’s data center or in the cloud, managing recording schedules, equipment, cataloging and publication.

Brian Smith, manager of video services for Florida’s Academic Technology unit, said use of the platform has increased at a steady rate annually. In 2013, Florida deployed the My Mediasite personal video capture tool, and viewership shot up by 215 percent, he said. My Mediasite lets users record, upload, manage and publish their own videos with a laptop’s built-in camera.

At Ohio State, there was no unified system to capture and manage lectures before 2013, when officials implemented Mediasite in a move to benefit faculty as well as students.

The platform’s “powerful video analytics provide faculty with a complete picture of student engagement,” said David Hooker, innovation lead for the university’s Office of Distance Learning and eLearning. “Viewer data shows instructors who is watching what content and when.” Instructors can then use that information to design courses accordingly to best benefit students, he added.

“The big picture of lecture capture is that it’s caught on,” said Sean Brown, senior vice president of education at Sonic Foundry. “Students want there to be ubiquitous lecture capture. They have the expectation that they get to watch the lecture again.”

Another plus for users is Mediasite’s optical character recognition feature, which lets them search for words or phrases in lectures. “When we record classes, optical character recognition goes in and indexes every single piece of legible text that’s captured in the video without the faculty member having to do anything,” Brown said.

The latest addition to the platform is Mediasite Catch software, which the company just released. It is designed for podium-based PCs with web cameras wherever fixed video cams may not be installed.

“Sometimes I don’t want drill into ceiling and put a camera in but I do have a PC already in the faculty podium,” Brown said. “There are lots of simple rooms [on a campus] that have a PC in the podium. It allows you to create an automated device out of your podium that knows how to do things and participate in the system. And instructional-technology managers are able to get coverage in more rooms.”

At the University of Leeds in England, the Mediasite platform captures lecture videos from more than 230 classrooms, he said. “It runs like clockwork all day long automatically, according to a schedule,” he said.

Brown said the new frontier for academic video is capturing two-way communications technologies, such as Skype, which are increasingly being used as part of instructional methodologies.

“We’re studying what do colleges and universities use the most for two-way video collaboration,” he said. “We think online collaborative learning is the new frontier to capture versus the standard, leader-led lecture.”

A second frontier is student submission of video, he said. “What we see is students turning in homework that they created in video,” he said. “It’s more common in graduate schools and graduate schools of business.” As examples, a student might be assigned to do a presentation about his or her experience in a lab, or to do a video presentation on marketing, he said.

“Collaborative learning and student submission of video are two frontiers and our engineers are working in those directions,” Brown said.