Student Voice

Disruption and Transformation via Lecture Recordings

By Sheik Abdul Malik

More Than Just a Tool of the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has precipitated a surge in lecture recording by higher education institutions. Now more than ever, providing students, particularly those operating in different time zones, the flexibility they need to consume and digest lecture content on-demand. However, this practice is not new. The Open University has been employing lecture recording as part of distance learning since the 1960s [1] Often viewed as a disruptive technology for its potential ability to supersede existing pedagogies, recorded lectures offer students a perceived ‘safety net’ [2] and a prized tool to improve the learning process. In contrast, some teaching staff felt that the performative aspect of lecturing was lost and that there was the danger students would become overdependent on this particular teaching style. In a 2018 study [3] conducted in a UK Russell Group institution the use of lecture recordings was analysed, with detailed accounts from over 10 staff members and 159 first-year undergraduate students free-text responses documented. This paper was published in the journal Computers & Education where it was recognised that lecture recording has the capability to revolutionise the existing teaching landscape – a highly promising prospect in today’s pandemic era. Of course, this study was carried out prior to coronavirus sweeping the globe and the researchers involved would have had little idea just how relevant the ideas discussed in the paper would go on to become.

Disrupting the Traditional Methods of Teaching

There are several arguments put forward as to why lecture recording has the ability to rattle the well-established pedagogical cage. Take student attainment as one example. Lecture recording by nature allows for deeper learning. Recordings can be paused, played back multiple times and studies [4] have shown that this can allow students to learn more effectively. This can be especially beneficial in cases where English is not the first language of the learner. A 2013 study by Leadbeater et al [5] found that of those students who did utilise the recordings, there was no observable difference in attainment measures. Further work could be conducted looking at those with additional learning needs or for whom, as mentioned, English is not their native tongue to establish if there were statistically significant differences between these groups and those who attended live lectures.

There is a reluctance from lecturers to adopt lecture recordings as standard stemming from the belief that they will see a noticeable drop in engagement and interaction [6] [7]. However, several studies [8] [9] have shown no statistically significant effect on attendance if lecture recordings were provided and this was seen in a variety of learner settings.

Other issues have been raised by teaching staff such as IT quality and the associated resources required to deliver clearly audible recordings. This may also be seen as an additional burden on the time of lecturers and lack of training could be considered a potential barrier to uptake from teachers.

Another potential concern surrounds the intellectual property (IP) and ethics of lecture recordings as shown in a 2016 paper by Kwiatkowski & Demirbilek [10]. Teaching staff may feel uncomfortable having a recorded account of their lectures as it might make their delivery style more restrained and less natural. However, this might simply lead to stricter adherence to copyright law and a deeper understanding of ethical and IP laws which could be of benefit to both staff and students.

Constructivism at its Finest

In MacKay’s paper ‘How lecture recording transforms staff and student perspectives on lectures in higher education’ staff members from all academic levels were invited to participate with 13 being involved in the study and agreeing to be interviewed to provide their thoughts and experiences. Separately, a cohort of first-year students from across the institution were recruited via email which included a survey allowing them to respond to predefined questions in a free-text format on the implementation of lecture recordings. The analysis of the responses was carried out using constructivist grounded theory methods [11] and these methods as well as their interpretation of the findings was shared with diverse committees of academics, student representatives and support staff to name a few and widely agreed upon.

Analysis of the results showed that the concerns surrounding lecture recordings could be separated into two main sets of issues: proximate and ultimate.

The former described the use of lecture recordings as a useful tool for students with some commenting that it was a useful ‘revision aid’. Whereas teaching staff remarked that the entertainment factor that an in-person lecture brings was lost in the recording.

The latter concerned the recordings being used as a safety net and this is particularly true of students who are, for example, carers and for whom attending lectures at the prescribed time is a challenge. This was also true of students with disabilities for whom regular attendance might be a challenge. However, for some teaching staff there was the sentiment that recording lectures would make students over dependent on recorded content and it would become almost canonised.

A Blended Approach to Teaching and Learning

It is clear from this study that there are aspects of the disruptive ability of lecture recordings that staff were highly uncomfortable with. Equally, there were great benefits for a wide range of student communities that would make lecture recordings not only beneficial but for some, essential. Reflecting upon the rapidly advancing digital age we live in, many institutions who aren’t engaging in creating material and resources accessible for all are in danger of being left behind. Whether the issue is a proximate or an ultimate one, the certainty is that a blended approach to learning and teaching may not just be an obvious outcome of the pandemic era, but it will in fact become a staple of the post-pandemic era too.


[1] Zawacki-Richter, O., & Naidu, S. (2016). Mapping research trends from 35 years of publications in Distance Education. Distance Education, 7919(July), 1–25.
DOI: 10.1080/01587919.2016.1185079

[Source Paper] [2], [3] [11] Jill R.D. MacKay, Show and ‘tool’: How lecture recording transforms staff and student perspectives on lectures in higher education, Computers & Education, Volume 140, 2019, 103593, ISSN 0360-1315,
DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2019.05.019

[4] Dey, E. L., Burn, H. E., & Gerdes, D. (2009). Bringing the classroom to the Web: Effects of using new technologies to capture and deliver lectures. Research in Higher Education, 50(4), 377–393.
DOI: 10.1007/s11162-009-9124-0

[5] Leadbeater, W., Shuttleworth, T., Couperthwaite, J., & Nightingale, K. P. (2013). Evaluating the use and impact of lecture recording in undergraduates: Evidence for distinct approaches by different groups of students. Computers and Education, 61(1), 185–192.
DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2012.09.011

[6] Chang, S. (2007). Academic perceptions of the use of lectopia: A university of melbourne example. ICT Providing Choices for Learners and Learning Proceedings Ascilite Singapore, 2007(2003), 135–144.

[7] Kwiatkowski, A. C., & Demirbilek, M. (2016). Investigating veterinary medicine faculty perceptions of lecture capture: Issues, concerns, and promises. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, 43(3), 1–8.
DOI: 10.3138/jvme.0615-090R1

[8] Toppin, I. N. (2011). Video lecture capture (VLC) system: A comparison of student versus faculty perceptions. Education and Information Technologies, 16(4), 383–393.
DOI: 10.1007/s10639-010-9140-x

[9] Zhu, E., & Bergom, I. (2010). Lecture capture: A guide for effective use. CRLT Occasional Papers, 27.

[10] Kwiatkowski, A. C., & Demirbilek, M. (2016). Investigating veterinary medicine faculty perceptions of lecture capture: Issues, concerns, and promises. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, 43(3), 1–8.
DOI: 10.3138/jvme.0615-090R1

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