Lecture Capture – What does recent literature say?

Lecture Capture technology has been widely adopted by universities worldwide over the past decade, with around 75% of UK universities now using it to provide students with recordings of taught sessions. Despite this wide adoption, it is still seen as somewhat controversial so it is no surprise that there has developed a body of research covering many different aspects of the technology and its use. There are several different ways that lecture capture technology can be used, including supporting flipped classroom practices and recording student presentations and demonstrations, but here we’ll just look at the simplest use – recording taught content as it is delivered so that it can be watched again at a later time by students.

There are four clear themes that emerge from the literature and we’ll take a brief look at some of the recent research for each of them in turn. These are: Impact on Attendance; Impact on Learning; Student Benefits and Perceptions; and Staff Benefits and Perceptions.

Impact on Attendance

Perhaps the major concern from academic staff regarding the recording of their teaching is that students will watch the videos rather than attend the live lecture and so miss out on the opportunity to interact with the lecturer and other students, ask questions, etc. As a result, a large part of the research on lecture capture has been around this issue, and while the results aren’t entirely conclusive, the consensus appears to be that, while there may be a slight, constant decrease in attendance at live, didactic teaching sessions it is generally from those students who are least engaged during these sessions with no significant effect on the rest of the students. For example, Nordmann et al. (2019) found “no strong evidence that students who fail to attend the lecture are doing so because they are accessing the recording as a substitute” rather than for other reasons (p. 1079). This may be explained by Wood, et al. (2018) findings that even with lecture capture, students still highly value attending the live session, partly as it is an expected part of a university education and partly for the opportunity to interact with peers and lecturers. This resulted in students continuing to attend in person wherever possible, with the recordings enabling them to manage competing demands on their time while still being able to ‘experience’ the lecture first-hand. This view is supported by Edwards and Clinton (2019) who identified a significant decline in attendance at particular points during a module compared to the same point in the year preceding the introduction of lecture capture, however from the data it isn’t clear whether the prior attendance was untypically high or whether other factors, such as activity in other modules or events external to the course, might have had an influence.

Within the literature, a picture develops of lecture capture having a minimal overall impact on attendance at taught sessions. However, the causes for the potential effect on less engaged students clearly needs further investigation as these are likely to be students who would benefit greatly from the live experience supported by the ability to recap their learning.

Impact on Learning

The ways in which students make use of the recordings has also been a subject of research. Ebbert and Dutke (2019) performed an analysis on student use of lecture recordings and identified 3 distinct patterns of use, Repetition (watched recordings in full), Consultation (watched parts of recordings), Absenteeism (recordings used in place of live attendance), with the first 2 being further divided into Frequent (watched most recordings) and Selective (watched only some recordings) subpatterns. Whereas, Morris et al. (2019) identified five common ways in which students use recordings: catching up on missed lectures (60.7% of students surveyed), revising for exams (52%), recapping content not understood at lecture (46.2%), while writing assignments (40.5%) and note taking after lectures (36.9%). These different ways of using the recordings make identifying the impact of lecture recordings on learning somewhat difficult as students may be using them in a variety of ways, or combinations of ways. This is shown in the contradictory results found by researchers. Edwards and Clinton (2019) report no direct effect on attainment from students viewing lecture recordings, while the lower attendance observed in their study meant that the average attainment following the introduction of lecture recordings was reduced. In contrast, cluster analysis of students on four concurrent, first-year modules by O’Brien and Verma (2019) found a slight increase in the average mark across all modules for students who used the lecture recordings when compared to those who just attended the live lectures. Yet, Meehan and McCallig (2019) suggest that there is little difference in learning gain between attendance at lectures and solely watching recorded lectures.

Another question frequently raised is regarding the effectiveness of recorded teaching sessions on student learning, in particular whether there is sufficient impact to justify the costs for the institution (e.g. financial and support), staff (e.g. time spent making the recordings available), and students (e.g. time spent watching the videos). Luttenberger et al. (2018) identified the same patterns of use as Ebbert and Dutke (2019), but further found that the students who watched the recordings in full had the highest achievement, while those who only watched parts of the recordings were lower achieving. The authors attribute this to more engaged students watching the videos completely while undertaking other deep learning techniques to aid understanding, such as making summary notes, testing knowledge, etc. whereas the students who only watched parts of the recordings were engaged in surface learning and used recordings in place of actual understanding. While this is largely speculation, it raises the question of whether it is effective use of recordings results in greater learning, or whether those higher achieving students are more likely to make effective use of the recordings, and if the former, how other students can be supported in making more effective use of them too.

Student Perspectives

In addition to the more quantitative research, there has also been a smaller effort to understand the student perspective on the value of recordings. This has broadly confirmed the qualitative findings of Scutter et al. (2010) who identified, through interviews with students, four purposes for which students used lecture podcasts (which, while not quite the same as more recent lecture capture practices that also record at least the screen, they are functionally equivalent). These purposes were: clarification of presented material; ability for non-native English speakers to replay as an aid to understanding; use as a revision tool; and as a substitute for attending the live lecture. An additional purpose, though in practice very close to the second purpose above, is that students with specific learning differences or physical disabilities use the ability to pause and rewind recordings for note-taking (Williams, 2006). O’Callaghan et al. (2017) found that students particularly valued the flexibility with which recordings enable them to perform these tasks, such as reviewing only personally relevant sections and skipping others, while Leadbeater et al. (2013) describe being able to revisit content at their own pace as being highly valued.

These findings suggest that certain student demographics are likely to benefit to a greater degree from the availability of recordings of their taught sessions. Non-native English speakers and students with a range of disabilities are explicitly identified in the literature, however there are other groups who would also benefit from the flexibility and ability to recap taught materials, including commuter students, students with work and caring responsibilities outside university, students with short- and long-term illnesses, and students who need to temporarily study at a distance from the university.

Staff Perspectives

As with the research covering the student perspective, qualitative research has also been undertaken to analyse lecturers’ views on lecture capture. Beyond issues such as the effect on attendance and student attainment covered above, many studies have found similar concerns and benefits being reported by staff.

A common concern is that ‘Lecture’ recording encourages a didactic style of teaching because it is the style that best lends itself to being recorded as a combination of screen and voice (MacKay, 2019), while research has frequently stated that such an approach is less effective for many students (Sharp, et al., 2019). MacKay (2019) also noted that lecturers were concerned that changes to the way that students would ‘engage’ with recorded material might encourage lectures to be more ‘entertaining’ in order to grab attention, leading to an ‘edutainment’ style that encourages students to be consumers rather than learners – though this was not mentioned as a concern by the interviewed students. While some lecturers elsewhere stated that the session being recording can stifle students’ contributions during lectures, others reported that the ‘safety net’ of the recording capturing the detail of the content allowed students to be more actively engaged during the sessions (Joseph-Richard et al., 2018).

Lecturers have also expressed concern that a recorded lecture becomes ‘canonical’ in a way that the more ephemeral nature of an unrecorded lecture does not, specifically, the situation where students repeatedly watch recordings to the point that they can quote them verbatim rather than having true understanding (MacKay, 2019). This is a particular concern when erroneous information is given spontaneously and requires later correction (Joseph-Richard et al., 2018).

Prior to, and immediately following, the introduction of lecture capture, a major concern from lecturers is that the recordings might be used for purposes other than teaching – principally performance monitoring. However, Joseph-Richard et al. (2018) found that the opportunity for lecturers to use the recordings as part of reflective, self-observation resulted in a greater sense of self-confidence in their practice and a corresponding reduction in this concern.


The literature related to lecture capture has been growing in line with the increased use of the technology, however due to these having to-date been mainly small-scale studies and a clear picture of impact has yet to fully emerge. What is more clear, though, is the value that students place on the flexibility provided by Lecture Capture to allow them to study in ways that work best for their learning methods and wider commitments.

Recommended Further Reading

For a more comprehensive review of the pre-2016 literature relating to relating to these issues, see O’Callaghan et al. (2017). The general findings of that earlier review are broadly consistent with the more recent literature covered here, suggesting that the specific technology is less of a factor in the effectiveness of lecture capture than academic staff and student attitudes towards it and practice related to its use.


Ebbert, D., & Dutke, S. (2019). How do students use lecture recordings? A cluster analysis of evaluation data. Presentation at Media and Learning 2019.

Edwards, M.R., & Clinton, M.E. (2019). A study exploring the impact of lecture capture availability and lecture capture usage on student attendance and attainment. Higher Education, 77, 403–421. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-018-0275-9

Joseph-Richard, P., Jessop, T., Okafor, G., Almpanis, T., & Price, D. (2018). Big brother or harbinger of best practice: Can lecture capture actually improve teaching? British Educational Research Journal, 44(3), 377-392. https://doi.org/10.1002/berj.3336

Leadbeater, W., Shuttleworth, T, Couperthwaite, J., & Nightingale, K.P. (2013). Evaluating the use and impact of lecture recording in undergraduates: Evidence for distinct approaches by different groups of students. Computers & Education, 61, 185-192. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2012.09.011

Luttenberger, S., Macher, D., Maidl, V., Rominger, C., Aydin, N., & Paechter, M. (2018)  Different patterns of university students’ integration of lecture podcasts, learning materials, and lecture attendance in a psychology course. Education and  Information Technology, 23, 165–178. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-017-9592-3

MacKay, J.R.D. (2019). Show and ‘tool’: How lecture recording transforms staff and student perspectives on lectures in higher education. Computers & Education, 140. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2019.05.019

Meehan, M. & McCallig, J. (2019). Effects on learning of time spent by university students attending lectures and/or watching online videos. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 35(2). https://doi.org/10.1111/jcal.12329

Morris, N.P., Swinnerton, B. & Coop, T. (2019). Lecture recordings to support learning: A contested space between students and teachers. Computers & Education. 140. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2019.103604

Nordmann, E., Calder, C., Bishop, P., Irwin, A., & Comber, D. (2019). Turn up, tune in, don’t drop out: the relationship between lecture attendance, use of lecture recordings, and achievement at different levels of study. Higher Education, 77 , 1065–1084. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-018-0320-8

O’Brien, M. & Verma, R. (2019). How do first year students utilize different lecture resources? Higher Education, 77, 155-172. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-018-0250-5

O’Callaghan, F.V., Neumann, D.L., Jones, L., & Creed, P.A. (2017). The use of lecture recordings in higher education: A review of institutional, student, and lecturer issues. Education and Information Technologies, 22 (1). 399-415. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-015-9451-z

Scutter, S., Stupans, I., Sawyer, T., & King, S. (2010). How do students use podcasts to support learning? Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(2), 180–191. https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.1089.

Sharp, J.G., Hemmings, B., Kay, R., Sharp, J.C. (2019). Academic boredom and the perceived course experiences of final year Education Studies students at university. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 43(5), 601-627. DOI: 10.1080/0309877X.2017.1386287

Williams, J. (2006). The Lectopia service and students with disabilities. In Proceedings of the 23rd annual ascilite conference: Who’s learning? Whose technology? Paper presented at ASCILITE 2006, Sydney, Australia.

Wood, A., Bailey, T., Galloways, R., Hardy, J., Sangwin, C., & Docherty, P. (2018, November 12). Lecture capture as an element of the digital resource landscape – a qualitative study of flipped and non-flipped classrooms. Unpublished report.  https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/824hv