Replaying highlights from the last year

This is largely a paper that I wrote for our September 2017 Learning and Teaching Committee. The paper is available as Paper K here. Just in case anyone wants to know what I’ve been working on for the last 12 months…


Information Services Group has been working to launch a centrally-supported lecture recording service for the start of the academic year 2017/18 and to scale up the service over 2 subsequent years to provide a highly integrated, highly automated service in 400 general teaching spaces across campus.

Lecture Recording Programme Phases

Lecture recording rollout is spread over 3 phases, recognising that there are limited windows of opportunity during the academic year to equip many of our teaching spaces, and to allow the programme sufficient time to take feedback and adjust plans to ensure the service delivers the required benefits for all.

For the start of academic year 2017/18 the focus has firmly been on transitioning those users who currently rely on lecture recording into the new service.

Phase 1 timeline

One of the biggest challenges has been the length of time that a public procurement process requires. In this project it took 9 months to complete what was a complex and highly competitive procurement. The willingness of our chosen supplier – Echo360 – to work with us on rolling out the service even whilst we were finalising terms and conditions has been vital to achieving a service for the start of 17/18.

Phase 1 Service

The new service is called ‘Media Hopper Replay’. The service was made available to staff from 5 September to allow VLE courses to be linked to the new service in good time, and for staff to familiarize themselves with the Replay software.

All courses that relied on the previous Panopto lecture recording service have been contacted personally to ensure they are transitioned over to the new service. Additionally, where possible, a small number of additional courses have been included in the service. Typically this has been where they are already scheduled into an enabled room or are being taught by someone already using the service on another course.

For the start of term 17/18 the service will be available in 114 general teaching spaces across the campus. This includes all of our largest lecture theatres. Commissioning of rooms will take place right up to the end of Welcome Week, reflecting the use of many teaching spaces in the Central Area by the Fringe Festival, and the more general programme of refurbishment of our estate.

Along with lecture recording equipment, additional cameras and microphones have been installed. In larger spaces we have also doubled up the number of microphones. Each room has an indicator light that is used to signal when recording is taking place. The light also functions as a button to allow recordings to be easily paused. 50 ‘Catchbox’ throwable microphones will be in larger teaching spaces to aid recording of questions from students.

New room signage is being installed to clearly indicate which rooms are equipped. Telephones are being installed in teaching spaces as part of the rollout to allow issues to be reported to support more quickly.

Media Hopper Replay has been integrated with the Learn and Moodle VLEs. Academic colleagues will be able to manually start and stop ad-hoc recordings as per the previous lecture recording service. Additionally around 75 courses have requested to be part of a pilot for scheduling of recording. This process has been defined and documented and tested with colleagues in the Timetabling Unit.

Several lecture theatres in Kings Buildings have been equipped specifically to record chalkboards. A significant amount of effort has gone into this activity, led by a cross-College Technical Special Interest Group. A number of courses in Maths and Physics have signed up to pilot the service in 17/18.

Examples of recording light and new room signage

Phase 1 Support

Equipping our academic colleagues and students with the appropriate digital skills to make best use of lecture recording technology has been integral to the programme and we have taken a broad approach based on early School feedback.

To support the new service two new training courses have been developed and are being delivered both face to face and via webinars:

  • “Preparing for Lecture Recording” covers accessibility and copyright topics – these were identified by academic colleagues as areas where more guidance was needed.
  • “Delivering Lectures using Lecture Recording” explains how to use the Replay system itself and how it links to the Learn VLE.

Feedback from training courses so far has been that the service is simple and easy to use. A series of drop-in sessions are scheduled for w/b 11 September and w/b 18 September to give academic colleagues an opportunity to try out a ‘hands-on’ recording process in an equipped teaching space.

Online help materials for staff have been published on the ISG website, including demonstrations videos. Similar materials for students will be published during Welcome Week. An extensive set of FAQs are also published online, and are being regularly updated as the service rolls out.

Operating procedures inside Information Services Group with key support teams such as the IS Helpline have been agreed. Preview sessions for School IT and learning technology colleagues and teams within Information Services Group have been held. Staff who support teaching spaces, both in ISG and in Schools have been trained on swap-out procedures and spare lecture recording boxes are being held at several points across campus for rapid response. IT and learning technology colleagues in Schools who have devolved administrator roles have been identified and trained. The programme has benefitted enormously from both the support and advice of School colleagues who have been supporting the previous Panopto lecture recording service.

Student helpers are being recruited to provide hands-on assistance in lecture theatres for the first week of teaching.

The Timetabling Unit have worked to ensure that courses that require lecture recording are booked into appropriate spaces. This has been challenging in so far as the rollout of lecture recording has begun after final room requirements data is normally required by the Timetabling Unit. The working partnership between ISG and the Timetabling Unit within this programme has been absolutely key to success.

Phase 1 Communications

An extensive communications programme has underpinned all of this work, with a monthly newsletter, plus regular key messages information distributed to comms colleagues in Schools, Colleges and EUSA for inclusion in local newsletters or emails. Articles have appeared in Bulletin and BITs, the student newsletter, and on the IS News pages. An article will be also be published in Teaching Matters in September. Comms has also been distributed through College IT and academic representatives on various projects boards, steering groups and task groups. A student intern has been working with us over the summer and has created a series of videos featuring student and staff perspectives on the service, along with developing a flyer to go in the welcome pack for all new students, and marketing materials. This is key to managing student expectations as we rollout over several years.

Academic Champions

The Academic User Group has been formally convened, chaired by Professor Susan Rhind. Heads of Schools have been contacted to provide the name of a Lecture Recording champion in each School. 14 nominations have been received so far. The next User Group meeting will be on the 2nd of October.

Professor Sarah Cunningham-Burley will lead the Engagement and Evaluation Group, which will meet for the first time in October. Three PTAS projects have been funded so far to evaluate lecture recording ( and a further call is open until 26 October for projects starting in 2018.

MVM Timetabling

Recognising that use of the central Timetabling system was key to allowing the service to scale, the programme also includes work to assist the College of MVM to migrate over. Migration of the Vet School to central Timetabling is on track for September 2017 although some work is still needed to define the ongoing support model. A review of the Medical School timetabling/room booking requirements has been presented and a review report will be delivered in October 2017.

Next Steps

Once the first 114 rooms are operational for the start of term the programme will move on to focus on the delivery of automated Timetabling integration. This will allow courses to signal whether they need a lecture recording enabled room, and whether they would like their recordings automatically started and stopped as part of the annual Timetabling scheduling process. We are recruiting additional resources during September to assist with this work so that it begins quickly. We will also continue analysis and development work with the Medical School to help integrate them into the Central Timetabling System.

Phase 1 has focussed on supporting the core recording use cases for lecture recording. As we move into the next phase of the project we will develop and rollout further training courses to support more advanced use of the service. We have recruited additional resource to support this and input from the Academic User Group champions will help ensure this activity aligns well to academic needs in Schools. We also continue to make sure that lecture recording training is complimented by the wider training offered in within ISG and the Institute for Academic Development by cross-marketing relevant events (Flipped classroom; lecturing skills etc).

Additionally we will continue to install AV and IT equipment into teaching spaces across campus. During Phase 1 we have also identified several areas where front-line support for teaching spaces could be improved either by new processes or with additional staffing resources.

By the start of 2018/19 the service will be installed in around 300 teaching spaces, along with a more automated and integrated process for booking rooms and recording lectures. This will complement the new lecture recording policy being developed by the LTC task group.

((c) University of Edinburgh All rights reserved.)

((c) University of Edinburgh All rights reserved.)

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