More classes should offer lecture recordings

Hannah Lopez

Six years ago, Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services introduced UT’s automatic lecture recording system, Lectures Online. The automatic program offers professors an efficient way to easily record their presentations and upload them to Canvas for students to review. In a survey later done by LAITS, a combined 91% of students either agreed or strongly agreed that Lectures Online helped them learn.

The only problem? It’s only available in 21 classrooms. 

Recorded lectures are an invaluable resource that allow students to easily play back any part of the lesson they need clarification on or missed in their notes. Students who rely on auditory learning and aren’t enrolled in a class with recorded lectures are at a severe disadvantage compared to their peers. 

In order to provide students with all the necessary tools to succeed in their education, UT should expand the amount of classrooms used in the Lectures Online program.

Michael Heidenreich, director of studio operations in the College of Liberal Arts, said classrooms are picked based on the size of the class in order to reach greater amounts of students. Due to these standards, only about 70 classrooms with a total of 6,500 students are able to use the service. Compared to the almost 52,000 students that attend UT, the outreach of this program is falling significantly behind. 

“For the College of Liberal Arts, we looked at what were the larger auditoriums that have the most students enrolled,” Heidenreich said. “When we first started doing this we also tried some smaller rooms, and … it just wasn’t as valuable.” 

However, even though a smaller class means fewer people, it is no less important. Every class, no matter what size, should have the option to offer students the Lectures Online system. 

Additionally, an increase of Lectures Online classrooms would help students who do not necessarily need accommodations through Services for Students with Disabilities, but learn better through sound. According to biology junior Sara Morakabian, the reason for her success in some of her classes is due to the option to listen to recorded lectures.  

“Especially in a STEM environment, my grades and GPA would not be where they are right now if it weren’t for recorded lectures,” Morakabian said. “As students, I think we should understand that the funds and resources of UT are not unlimited … but I think (UT) should invest more in recording equipment for the classrooms.” 

Individual recordings on students’ phones isn’t enough. Not only is there a difference of quality in sound recording, but it also limits the amount of people who are able to listen to the lecture. According to UT policy, “recordings, when permitted, are for personal use only and may not be uploaded to the internet or otherwise shared, transmitted, or published.” Since recordings on phones cannot be shared, the Lectures Online system would allow everyone to have access to review lecture material. 

While some professors are concerned that recording lectures would diminish class attendance, there are simple ways to avoid those kinds of scenarios. Instead of giving consequences to force students to attend lecture, create incentives encouraging students to come to class. Offer extra credit through in-class activities or participation points. Do not punish a group based on the actions of a few individuals. 

For a program that is so invaluable to student learning and comprehension, there needs to be more than 21 classrooms offering this service. UT needs to increase the number of classrooms using the Lectures Online system in order to help students reach their greatest academic potential. 

Lopez is a rhetoric and writing sophomore from Nederland, TX.