The purpose of this study was to evaluate lecture capture viewings for professional undergraduate pharmacy courses in the Fall and Spring semester over three academic years (6 semesters). A secondary objective was to analyze longitudinally the data for one specific cohort (class of 2020) whose data was available for three consecutive academic years. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study of its kind in the MENA region to investigate the use of this type of TEL for a health program in higher education.
Lecture capture technology offers several benefits to faculty and students including preparing and studying for assessments, support for students who are absent from live lectures and assisting students in understanding difficult concepts (Freeman, Schrimsher, & Kendrach, 2006; Marchand, Pearson, & Albon, 2014; Maynor et al., 2013). Given that university students in this era are a digital generation who have been raised surrounded by technology (Corrin, 2010), the investigators postulated that the viewing figures for a number of courses would be high and consistent throughout the academic years. Overall, this study showed that students view lecture capture only for selected courses, and generally, the views for the first half of the academic year (Fall semester) are higher compared to that of the second half (Spring semester). The courses taken in P1 were the most viewed for lecture capture, with viewing figures declining as the academic years progressed to reach a steady level.
A key finding of this study is that an overwhelming majority of junior students consistently viewed lecture capture multiple times on average with the number of views higher at the beginning of the academic year. However, senior students viewed lecture capture less often with one view per lecture per student on average. A study by Burton et al. (Burton et al., 2017) supports our finding and reports that the percentage of students viewing lecture capture levelled off by the second half of the academic year. A high number of views during the Fall semester may be due to student’s initial motivation at the beginning of the academic year; however, as the year progresses students may perceive the time spent on viewing lecture capture in a less positive manner. Students may prefer to spend more time studying through other methods such as lecture notes and case-based practical problems. Other factors that may influence the number of views include individual or group viewings, with the latter reducing the number of recorded viewings. Changes in the curriculum or instructor may also play a role in the pattern of views witnessed with these courses. Overall, the number of views for the lecture capture program appeared lower than the investigators had expected.
The IC series is a combination of three different courses within the pharmacy curriculum – pathophysiology, pharmacology and pharmacotherapy. These courses are synchronized in time and lectures for each course are delivered sequentially for each topic and the lecture recordings are then uploaded to the VLE as a single file for lectures from the 3 courses for each topic. There was a trend for a decrease in the number of views between Fall and Spring in P2; however, for P3 there was rather a trend for increase. This could be driven by several factors chiefly the nature of topics that might be perceived as harder by students for the P3 level courses. Furthermore, one can speculate that the academic ability of students can also affect the number of views as it has been reported that students who have a lower academic ability tend to view and benefit from the lecture capture more often (Owston, Lupshenyuk, & Wideman, 2011). Of special note, the motivation for viewing the combined lecture recordings for this course may be driven by any of the three courses and hence it is difficult to assess whether it is the overall or the individual course-specific perceived difficulty that is driving these patterns of viewing.
Analysis of viewing figures for the class of 2020 throughout three consecutive academic years showed that P1 (16AY) courses have the most views, when compared to other courses in P2 (17AY) and P3 (18AY), this is in contrast to the findings shown by Chester et al. (Chester, Buntine, Hammond, & Atkinson, 2011) who concluded that second and third year students found lecture capture to be more useful than first year students; however, this study analyzed perceptions without quantitative data on viewing figures. The difference within these findings may also be due to the undergraduate degree program that is being analyzed. Chester et al. analyzed students over seven undergraduate courses; however, our study focuses on one undergraduate program, Bachelor in Pharmacy. Within our setting, we postulate that students entering P1 from pre-pharmacy may have a perception of lecture content difficulty and a transition period moving towards professional pharmacy courses. As a result, students may be more inclined to view lecture capture to grasp difficult concepts or revisit sections of lectures to aid their understanding. Novelty of the technology may also play a role in the initial motivation to view lecture capture. To date, there is no study examining the quantitative usage of lecture capture between junior and senior students and hence our current study provides novel insight on the dynamics of use of this technology across the academic years by undergraduate pharmacy students.
A systematic review conducted by O’Callaghan et al. (O’Callaghan, Neumann, Jones, & Creed, 2017) found that students have a positive perception towards lecture capture and agreed that it enhanced the effectiveness of their learning; however, almost half of all students analyzed in the review suggested that lecture capture should not be used as a substitution for face-to-face learning. Students cited benefits of face-to-face learning including immediate feedback from questions and motivation to learn whilst attending the lecture. At our institution lecture capture does not replace, but rather supplements live lectures, providing a backup option to allow students to view the lecture in sections or in full after the lecture has taken place at their own pace. Furthermore, the availability of archived lectures until graduation allows students to view content delivered for a specific lecture in previous year(s) in advance of the sessions of the current academic year. Altogether, given the benefits of this technology for students outlined here, it was indeed very surprising to observe that the number of views per lecture is in general low and declines over the years of the program. For instance, most of the courses had on average 20 views per lecture, which means that less than one student per class had viewed the lecture (class size in general 24–30 students – Table 2). Therefore, further research is warranted to assess student’s perceptions of lecture capture within our institution to qualitatively determine barriers for a wider use of this technology.
Despite the great efforts to ensure the systematic availability of Echo360 lecture capture technology across all courses in our pharmacy program, our current study has identified a gap in the use of this TEL tool. Therefore, additional research is required to fully understand the reasons behind this gap and to implement remedial actions to ensure full advantage of this process to enhance learning experience and teaching at the college. One way forward to encourage the use of this technology is to implement development sessions for both students and faculty. This is particularly important because the College of Pharmacy was the first Health College at Qatar University using this technology to enhance students’ learning experience.
A development session highlighting the benefits of lecture capture and how to maximize the benefit of using of the Echo360 system may increase the number of lecture capture viewings. This could apply more importantly to P1 students who may have never used the lecture capture system before. The impression students receive when starting the pharmacy degree will last throughout the academic years; therefore, an early curriculum development session showing the key learning benefits of the system may incline students to use lecture capture more frequently throughout the program. A development session will also allow students and faculty to comfortably navigate through the possibilities offered by the system. Faculty development, especially for new members, may encourage use of this educational resource that is already widely available. For example, the lecture capture resource can be beneficial if faculty are taking a ‘flipped-classroom’ approach thus having an effect on student engagement (Marchand, Pearson & Simon, 2014). In addition, the system can be used by new faculty to review past lectures and develop their own teaching skills. Furthermore, existing faculty can also benefit from the system by reviewing their own previously delivered lectures as a professional development tool to revise lecture content (e.g., review material and explanations to difficult sections), monitor body language and improve communication skills in the next cycle of lectures.
Another benefit of this system that should be highlighted is for peer-observation of teaching; a faculty member can benefit from the input and guidance of experienced faculty members after they have viewed samples of previous lectures (delivered spontaneously) instead of the traditional peer-observation process that requires observer(s) to physically attend a selected lecture(s). Furthermore, promotion of lecture capture by faculty members may encourage students to spend time viewing previous lectures. From an equal opportunity and widening participation point of view, this system can provide an advantage to students who are unable to understand an instructor’s accent or those with special learning needs such as students who may be hard of hearing. This is particularly important especially that some students with certain special needs do not always disclose them to the student learning support office. To fully utilize the system, the introduction of captions may help overcome some of these barriers (Dommeyer, 2017). This is now facilitated by the availability of automated tools and software to introduce closed captions.
Student attendance in class is a concern raised by faculty members when using lecture capture (O’Callaghan et al., 2017); however, within our institution at Qatar University, class sizes are small (less than 30 students per class) and attendance to all professional pharmacy courses is mandatory, a policy set by the University. If a student fails to attend more than 25% of classes for a specific course within one semester, the student will receive a failing grade for that course, thus ensuring optimal student attendance. A multitude of studies have been conducted in this regard and many studies have concluded that lecture capture does not affect student attendance, whereby students use the recordings to supplement or enhance lecture material rather than replace live lectures (McLean & Suchman, 2016; Copley, 2007; Traphagan et al., 2010).
The findings of this study should be considered, however, in light of some limitations. The system does not permit tracking of individual use so we cannot distinguish multiple downloads/views from a single user. The number of views for each course is a collective figure including students and faculty, although we may speculate that the majority of views come from students. Furthermore, we cannot determine which subsection or the length of time an individual viewed the lecture capture. The integrated series data is a combination of three courses (pathophysiology, pharmacology and pharmacotherapy); therefore, conclusions cannot be made for the number of views on each individual course delivered in these integrated series. A number of courses were excluded from the study due to the nature of delivery resulting in no lecture capture data, these included courses that require group discussion or lab work. Courses that had missing data (more than two academic years) were also excluded. There can be multiple reasons for missing data, the instructor may not have turned the microphone on to allow for recording, or the audio may be distorted due to improper placement of the microphone, and technical issues can result in the lecture capture system being shut down (updates, classroom schedule changes, battery replacement issues) etc. These issues can be addressed in development sessions aimed at faculty members and staff involved in the coordination of the process. Overall, while we consider that our experience in the use of video capture technology is quite unique among other internationally-accredited pharmacy programs in the MENA region both by its systematic and long history of use, it is also fair to consider that our experience can also be extrapolated to other pharmacy programs across the world owing to the close and long-term collaboration of the pharmacy program at our institution with CCAPP and the stringent implementation of its international standards for pharmacy education.