Have you ever been ill, had an appointment, or struggled to keep up in class? Every student knows what it is like to get behind for reasons outside of their control, the stress it can cause, the worry that you will never catch up. Some of us have found our grades suffering or having to reach out to the ever-pressed Student Services for help.
The opt-out lecture capture campaign is founded on the idea that no student should face this stress when something can be done about it. While every student knows what it is like to struggle to keep up, it is, unfortunately, true that some students struggle more than most. Disabled students, students with English as their second language, or commuting students, for example, struggle with accessing the same level of education as others due to issues like absences, struggling to understand lectures or keep up with writing notes.
As a disabled student, I have to miss many of my classes due to illness and appointments. I also frequently find myself unable to keep up when I am there because my hands are too painful to write or brain fog makes it difficult to understand. Disabled students like myself make up over 15% of the student population, with students from other disadvantaged backgrounds adding up to even more. I already spend hours a week managing my disability and I don’t have the time to chase up every individual lecturer every time I miss a class (indeed, some of us face great resistance doing so).
The already overworked lecturers and Student Services surely don’t have the resources to help the 1400+ of us every time we have an absence or cannot keep up with notes. Lecture capture offers us equal access to an independent education and takes minimal resources. But it is not just us that benefit from lecture capture. Having lecture capture available to every student means no one’s education suffers due to unexpected circumstances like illness.
Even if you’re immune to freshers’ flu, we all need to revise, and lecture capture is the tool to do so. Often, people worry that an increased uptake in lecture capture means that students will no longer attend lectures. Lecture capture will never be on par with in-person lectures: you can’t ask questions, pick up notes, or socialise with your peers. People don’t refuse to attend their lectures because they can read the notes on Moodle, pick up a textbook in the library, or ask their friend what happened, but they do miss out on valuable comments from their lecturer when their circumstances leave them unable to attend.
Research on attendance and lecture capture tends to be mixed. A reduction in attendance could be caused by a variety of legitimate reasons. Right now, people struggle to do things like make doctors appointments or speak to Student Services because they cannot fit it around their classes, or they attend lecturers when they are really ill because they’re worried they won’t be able to catch up otherwise. Lecture capture allows people to put their wellbeing first, even if that is a reduction in attendance. At the end of the day, we would all have been better off if those of us with mumps had felt able to take a sick day.
We support an opt-out policy over a mandatory one because it takes into account the concerns of lecturers, while ensuring we all take the decision not to use it seriously with an understanding of the negative effects that it can have on students from disadvantaged backgrounds. We recognise that there are some classes that are not suitable for recording, but they don’t make up the majority of classes, most of which still go unrecorded. Students like myself have a right to know why our education suffers. Education is our priority.
A significant reason that most lecturers oppose lecture capture is the worry that it could be used for practices like performance review. We want students to have as great an opportunity to benefit from their education as possible, and so we support a policy that excludes these practices if that improves the uptake of lecture capture and our ability to access our education.
It is for these reasons that the lecture capture campaign has the popular support of students across the university: 87% of respondents to our survey agreed that they would benefit if more of their lectures were captured, and 89% agreed that lecture capture should be opt-out rather than opt-in. Opt-out lecture capture policies exist at many universities across the country. St Andrews should keep up with the level of support available at other institutions and follow suit