Why We Should Be in Favour of Recording Lectures

Maria Vint argues pro-technology.

How many times have you been completely lost in a lecture and are left desperately trying to look at the previous slide on the person in front of you’s laptop, just to jot down that last point in desperation

Sometimes it all moves really fast. If your lecturer steers clear of particularly wordy power points, you can’t always go back over it afterwards. I will admit, there have been times in lectures where I’ve ended up so behind it’s not even worth taking notes anymore, and just prayed that the readings would clear everything up. Often when you realise you’ve passed this point of no return, looking around the room you are met with a sea of faces looking just as confused as you. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just watch that lecture again?

In response to my colleague’s article opposing the recording of lectures, I am going to argue that, in fact, this would be a fantastic resource for students, allowing them to consolidate their knowledge even further. Because even if if your notes are as incomprehensible as Latin written backwards, I think you should be forgiven, and provided the materials to catch up to the best of your ability.

Firstly, I think that this kind of material would be invaluable for revision. When you’re going back over something that you learned three months ago, although scribbled lecture notes are an important part of familiarising yourself with the material, watching the lectures again before moving on to your written work could only be an advantage. This also provides students with the opportunity to experiment with a variety of learning styles. Going through the visuals alongside a verbal explanation gives much more information than quickly flicking through an old power point in fifteen minutes, despite the fact it took fifty minutes to impart the information contained in it.

Also, many students suffer from disabilities that impact upon their experience of a lecture (ex: English being a second language, or having physical problems that impede efficient note taking). Although there are procedures in place allowing students in this position to record lectures for themselves with authorisation from Student Services, it would arguably be much easier if this material were already there, organised for them rather than students having to record and store all material themselves – which technological nightmares can always jeopardise, like if your phone breaks, and all your lectures are gone. Also, when students face a temporary issue, such as a broken arm, rather than have to go through the process of fulfilling the requirements for permission, the materials will be ready available for them to rely on.

It is also argued that if they know they are being filmed, lectures may lose their personal touch, holding back on what they say. However there is no reason to jump to this conclusion with regards to all lecturers, as they already all know that quite possibly, in a crowd of up to 400 people, they are already being recorded by someone. The University employs them because they believe they are qualified and effective at carrying out their job. Quite presumably if lecturers are comfortable expressing certain opinions and telling personal stories to an audience of 400, it’s not something they are concerned about hiding anyway!

So whether you’ve self-certified having a “medical migraine” for the third time this week to miss a lecture, or you didn’t really process all the information the first time round, technology can now work as a digital time machine to help you. People may complain about laziness and argue that this would cause nothing but empty lecture theatres, but I seriously doubt that. Most people try to attend most of their lectures, and do not deny that they certainly add an important dimension to your academic experience. There will always be people who habitually dodge lectures, but it is by no means universal. At the end of the day, when students understand the material, the system can be considered a success.

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