Lecture Capture

Lecture capture software allows instructors to record lecture audio and syncs this recording with the on-screen display of your computer or laptop. Recording using a web camera is optional. The U of T-licensed lecture capture software is TechSmith Relay (formerly Camtasia Relay). In addition to recording and syncing, Relay also offers simple editing tools that allow you to excerpt portions of the recording. Resulting videos are stored in and shared from the Library’s MyMedia streaming server. Techsmith Relay does not record classroom video or images from a document camera.

Lecture capture can be made available on full teaching station installations and as a download for use on a personal desktop or laptop computer with camera and microphone. Download TechSmith Relay version 5 software at https://tsr.lc.utoronto.ca. TechSmith Relay version 4 recordings are not supported.

The version installed on a desktop or laptop can be used to record numerous types of content other than pure lecture, for example: lecturettes, assignment instructions, demonstrations, guest lectures, student presentations and many other possibilities. Please find instructions on how to use TechSmith Relay at http://portalinfo.utoronto.ca/content/techsmith-relay.

At many institutions, lecture capture is regularly used in a variety of classrooms and at other educational events.  For example, lecture capture can be used:

  • As an alternate means of delivering lectures for absent or ill students.
  • For students to use as a review tool before tests and exams.
  • To transmit course content prior to class time so that class sessions can be used for interactive activities and formative assessment.
  • To share lectures and other educational events with a larger audience (for example, Stanford University records many of its Continuing Education sessions and provides open access to the videos on YouTube – see their channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/stanforduniversity).
  • To capture special events for later viewing (for example, you might record a guest lecture and show it to future classes in subsequent years).

Its intended purpose is to allow students an alternative means of access to course lectures.  This document will focus on strategies and considerations in employing that use, but if you are interested in using lecture capture for other means, please book a consultation with CTSI.


Teaching and Technology: Usability Testing using Lecture Capture software
See how Prof. Colin Furness used Lecture Capture software to help students develop their collaboration skills while learning about usability testing. Students worked together to design tests, interpret results and reflect on the meaning of the system interactions they observed.

How Students Use Lecture Capture
In the context of student illnesses, the primary use of recorded lectures will be to allow students to view recordings of regular class sessions.

When lecture capture is used more broadly, students report using it primarily to review for tests or assignments. Students also say that recorded lectures make them less anxious about copying information during lectures, allowing them to focus on listening and identifying questions instead of taking comprehensive notes during class sessions.(1)

Potential Challenges & Caveats
Many instructors express concern that the availability of recorded lectures will lead students to attend class less frequently.  Even if the content of the lecture is the same in person or in a recorded format, some faculty are concerned that remote viewing may inhibit opportunities for interaction between students and between students and instructors.  If lecture capture is employed in a limited context (e.g., in response to student illness) this may not be a concern, but could become a consideration if lecture capture is used frequently or widely.(2)

Intellectual Property & Privacy
While lecture content is the intellectual property of the instructor, the ability to easily duplicate, upload, and share digital copies of lectures may concern some faculty.  Uploading lectures to YouTube and other video sites may also compromise your intellectual property. Using the Library’s MyMedia service ensures that your multimedia content is restricted to the University of Toronto community. Please contact portal.help@utoronto.ca for strategies to make your digital lectures more secure.

The incidental recording of students in a course may also raise privacy concerns. While TechSmith is unlikely to reveal students’ identity, other methods of lecture capture may require additional privacy safeguards. Please review the CTSI tip sheet on Audio & Video Recordings of Lectures and Class Sessions for additional information on maintaining you and your students’ privacy. This tip sheet also includes a sample syllabus statement to outline limitations on the reproduction and distribution of recorded lectures.

Additional Resources

Seven things you should know about lecture capture.  From the Educause Learning Initiative.  Available online at http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7044.pdf.

Teaching college math.  Available online at http://teachingcollegemath.com/.  The blog of a lecture capture devotee, with strategies and activities for and demonstrations of the use of lecture capture.

Please also note the resources identified in the footnotes below.

(1) See http://ccblog.typepad.com/weblog/2008/11/a-relatively-short-literature-review-of-lecture-capture-on-campus.html for additional information about student use of recorded lectures.
(2) While a number of studies claim that students in courses that employ lecture capture attend almost as frequently as students in courses without recorded lectures, many of the courses studied include those with additional incentives (e.g. interactive activities or participation grades) to attend regularly (http://ccblog.typepad.com/weblog/2008/11/a-relatively-short-literature-review-of-lecture-capture-on-campus.html) or have surveyed students in-class, not capturing those who attend less frequently. In another study, 40% of lecturers at an Australian university noted a 25% or greater decline in attendance (http://www.alt.ac.uk/altc2007/timetable/files/1064/2007_AltC_Williams_Attendance.pdf)