Learning at home with TUcapture

At Temple since 2003, TUcapture is being expanded to record more classes than ever. The videos are on Blackboard.

For some students, mornings might now mean rolling over and watching your economics class instead of hurrying out of bed to make it a lecture. It’s possible now through increased usage of TUcapture.

TUcapture has been at Temple since 2003, but professors have been using it more often. The system records and webcasts classes, which students can play back on Blackboard. Classrooms in Alter Hall will be equipped with the technology for TUcapture.

“Blackboard is the wrapper, and TUcapture is the candy,” said David R. Feeney, director of digital education.

Its purpose is mutually beneficial for both students and teachers. For students focused on writing notes in a professor’s lecture, they can watch and listen to the lectures again to ensure accuracy.

TUcapture allows students to view, pause, rewind and replay previous classes, which “provides reinforcement for lectures,” said Marc Sobel, a professor in the Fox School of Business.

Its improvement has been constant. Last year, it merely showed the content that a professor had opened on their computer monitor. Now, if a professor simply walks into a room, a camera will automatically turn on and off, send content to Blackboard and even follow the teacher if he or she moves around their classroom.

“We strive to make it literally task-free for the teacher,” Feeney said.

Within the first year, only 1,500 minutes were captured on Blackboard. A year later, more than 150,000 minutes were captured and stored. There are now more than 1 million minutes of footage from 35 classrooms.

Although the cameras are placed in classrooms throughout Temple, Alter Hall is the first building that has been architecturally designed and constructed with TUcapture in mind.

The new building will have cameras in every classroom and breakout room. Classrooms without the technology can still use it via mobile units.

Feeney said TUcapture allows teachers “biofeedback,” which he said will allow people to view their behavior in private.

Marketing professor Mary Conran began using TUcapture as a way to record her students’ presentations in class.

“When they get to hear my feedback along with watching themselves present, it becomes a powerful tool,” she said. “The system is able to also pick up class discussions and student comments. This helps me to step back and assess how I handled the classroom dynamics.”

Although it may seem attendance would be minimal if students could view their classes online, freshman marketing major Jonathon Heberlig, who has TUcapture in his Honors Calculus for Business class, said going to class is imperative “to get questions answered.”

He said viewing class online is “not the same as actually being there. It’s easier to get questions answered in class, but is still really helpful” because he said it adds to the learning experience, he said.

“I expect to continue and even expand my use of this technology in the future,” said Jim Portwood, director of Temple’s Center for European Studies. “I can reduce the amount of lecture time, allowing me to add additional experiential elements.”

“We have not yet begun to capture,” Feeney said, because less than 5 percent of classes, presentations, seminars has been captured.

In the future, his hopes are high for a completely recorded scholastic environment.

“If it is worth having,” Feeney said, “it is worth capturing.”

Matthew Petrillo can be reached at mattp@temple.edu.

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