Northwestern's Next Normal #4

It's ten minutes before the start of her Wednesday morning lecture and Dr. Roberts is unpacking her laptop at the classroom podium. She chuckles at the sight of the yellow post-it note with the word "MIC" written in big letters that she stuck on her laptop after forgetting to turn on and wear the lapel microphone for the first few classes. She's kept the note there weeks later as a reminder, though at this point in the quarter she feels much more confident going through the steps to queue up a new lecture recording. After meeting with a member of IT to set up her Panopto class folder so that videos automatically upload when she’s done, she's also confident in knowing her videos will show up in Canvas. Grabbing the mic from the podium, she turns it on and checks the batteries before attaching it to her shirt.

Dr. Roberts chats about the weather with the first of her students filtering into the classroom as she double-checks the small monitor on the podium that shows her what the cameras in the room are capturing. Satisfied that her PowerPoint and the area where she usually paces during her lecture will be recorded, she turns off the "confidence monitor," as she doesn’t want to be distracted by her own image during class. Although she's become much more comfortable being recorded after several quarters of teaching on Zoom, she'd still rather pretend the camera isn't there during lecture.

A student who couldn't attend class in person last week due to a family emergency comes up to thank her for the previous lecture recording and asks a follow-up question. The student is grateful to not have missed a lecture that covered one of the more complicated concepts in the course. As the clock ticks down to the start of her lecture, Dr. Roberts does a rough count of the students in the hall. Class attendance has held steady, even though she worried that having the lecture videos available would lead to more students choosing to sleep in. She calls the room to attention. The self-consciousness brought on by the cameras recedes as she settles into the familiar feeling of leading her class through the lecture.

The Next Normal series from Teaching & Learning Technologies is designed to showcase creative ideas and adaptive approaches to course design. Your department, program, or college may have specific expectations on making recordings available to students. Please refer to the Provost's Policy on Recording Classes page for important information on what can and cannot be included in recordings.

What Are Instructors Saying?

Associate Professor of Instruction
Department of Economics
Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences

"I record everything to the best of my ability, but I don't worry about making it perfect. When everything works, it works well, but sometimes the quality or existence of a recording isn't there for a myriad of reasons. The big takeaway for me is that students are happy just to have a recording so that they have a resource they can go back to and review on their own time. Even more important, I haven't seen any dip in attendance as a result of offering these recordings. Students seem happy to be back in the classroom."


Assistant Professor of Instruction
Computer Science
McCormick School of Engineering

"The first benefit everyone thinks about when recording their lectures is as an alternative for students who cannot make it to class (e.g., because they're quarantining). But the largest benefit I've seen is as a supplement: students coming to lecture and then reviewing it when they're working on an assignment and need to review a concept.

My big fear was that by offering recordings, students would stop showing up to lectures. That fear turned out to be largely unfounded. Sure, some of my students prefer to skip lectures and watch the recordings. And sure, there's been a gradual decline in attendance as the quarter goes on. But both of those were already the case before I offered recordings, and I haven't noticed a significant increase in either. The difference is that whereas before, these students would just read the textbook and the slides I posted, now they also have lecture recordings available; more tools they can use to succeed!"

How to Get Ready for Winter Quarter

The General Purpose Classroom Directory page on the Office of the Registrar website is a helpful resource that can quickly tell you whether the room is enabled for lecture capture or if the equipment is needed to be brought in to enable it. Use the drop-down menus to find the room and look for "Lecture Capture" in the Features column.

Not seeing "Lecture Capture" listed as a feature of your room?

You can work with the Registrar or your department administrator to request that your class be moved to a room equipped for lecture capture if you plan to record regularly. If you will record occasionally, ask that a mobile Zoom cart be brought to your classroom.

Assigned to a lecture capture-enabled room and know in advance you want to make a recording?

Contact Northwestern IT's Media and Technology Innovation group to schedule the Panopto lecture capture system in the room to make a recording and place it into the Panopto folder of your choice. Please note, at least three days advance notice is required for this service.

Request Lecture Capture Service ›

You can also request an orientation for any lecture capture-enabled room to help familiarize you with the technology and build your confidence in advance of a recording.

Request Orientation ›

Support is also available for on-campus events. Costs may vary—support for complex or large events may incur additional costs to the hosts for services rendered. Contact Media and Technology Innovation to discuss options.

Request Event Support ›

If you have questions or need help, reach Media and Technology Innovation by calling 847-467-7666 or 7-ROOM from any on-campus telephone.