On record: CET's recording kit, now in 15 venues around campus.
It's the bane of many a students' existence - scribbling down as much of a lecture as possible while still absorbing and understanding often complex content.
Enter UCT's Centre for Educational Technology (CET).
In line with its stated mission to "promote and investigate the integration of learning technologies in teaching and learning at the University of Cape Town and in higher education", CET has been recording lectures at venues around UCT campuses since early 2011. But it's not merely a simple audio recording - the CET approach also incorporates video and a stream of any multi-media presentations the lecturer might want to run alongside the recording.
What inspired this development?
Roger Brown, operations manager of CET's learning technologies team, explains that while a number of lecturers have had good results by making their own recordings, UCT needed an automated solution which any lecturer could use without needing additional software or technical skills.
Brown says students will benefit from being able to learn and review material in their own time and in a comfortable space. He also noted that while some academics fear that recording lectures would lead to a drop in attendance, international research suggests that the availability of recordings can actually increase student engagement in the classroom.
Students learn that the time in the lecture venue can be spent paying attention to what the lecturer is saying, while listening to a recording afterwards is a handy way to revise.
"Lecture recordings provide an additional learning resource, and act as a safety net for students," he says. "But it is all about the learning strategies that students follow." Studies show that students who review recordings regularly benefit the most, while those who use them as a substitute for in-person attendance or try to catch up just before exams are likely to lose out.
"We believe that being able to review lectures, in your own time, your own comfort, with your friends, on your own device, is a real benefit to students," notes Brown.
Fifteen venues around UCT campuses, including in the Leslie Social Sciences Building and the Health Sciences campus, are currently fitted with recording equipment. Students registered for courses that make use of the facility can access the recordings through the Vula course site.
With CET possibly looking at expanding operations in 2013, keep an eye out for the new service.
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