During the COVID pandemic, UAB launched a state-of-the-art system for live capturing and recording classroom lectures. The system currently operates automatically in over 150 UAB classrooms and posted in each of these classrooms is an official notice alerting students and instructors that the system is in use. No action by the instructor is necessary as the system is set to automatically record, beginning at the official start time of the class and ending at the official end time. Recordings are automatically uploaded into the Canvas course shell and show up in Canvas in My Media. The video recordings will automatically come with machine transcription (a sophisticated speech recognition software that yields 85-93% accuracy).

Instructors have sole capability and responsibility to make these recordings available to students by selecting “Publish” in the list of action items. Instructors can easily edit the video recordings prior to publishing. If the instructor ‘publishes’ a recording, it shows up in the student’s course-specific Media Gallery in Canvas. The Division of eLearning & Professional Studies have 3-4 minute instructional videos available to instructors for guidance on this. You may contact eLearning for additional training and assistance.

Students have enthusiastically accepted these new features afforded by UAB’s recent investment in classroom technology. Research in higher education shows that all students benefit from being able to listen to lectures more than once, whether they were live originally or not. When a recording is available to a student in his/her Canvas course, the student can replay it at different speeds, search the machine transcript for key terms, add close captioning, optimize visual layout of the classroom and projection screen (PowerPoint, etc.) feeds, etc.

Another major advantage of the new classroom recording technology is the ability to better serve students with accommodations from UAB’s Office of Disability Support Services (DSS). DSS has discontinued the COVID-related temporary academic adjustment request process but this technology may be used to provide an accommodation for students with disabilities and it will be taken into consideration as part of the normal DSS process. As a result, beginning in Fall 2021, DSS may offer use of recorded lectures as a “reasonable accommodation” when a student requests that they not attend class due to a confirmed disability. In certain cases, an accommodation may be for “livestreaming,” such as on Zoom. As always, instructors will be notified by DSS of such accommodations promptly after they are approved by DSS, and professionals from both DSS and eLearning will be available to instructors to provide guidance on facilitating the student’s class attendance accommodations, especially as they pertain to optimal use of the lecture recording system.

Briefly, the steps will be as follows:

  1. In class recordings will appear after the class periods end in the instructor’s “My Media” folder in Canvas
  2. Instructors may edit, or ask eLearning to edit, the recording (for example, to trim first few minutes of class time or eliminate sensitive material)
  3. Instructors may edit the Machine Captioning text to eliminate errors. If a professional transcription is needed (which is the case where a student in the course has submitted an accommodation request for captioning), instructors can submit the need via the DSS Captioning and Transcript Request Form, which has about a 48-hour turnaround time for such requests.
  4. Instructors may make the recording available to students in their class by selecting “Publish” in the action menu.
  5. To optimize course content organization, instructors may wish to make the recording available in a specific Module or other location in a Canvas course shell, other than the default location for students, which is Media Gallery.

UAB’s new classroom technology is a way to enhance the learning experiences for all of our students, including students with disabilities, and provides better comprehension of material presented in class by facilitating later review of material presented, often in a rapid-fire mode. While the availability of lecture recordings offers powerful benefits for our students, it is not meant to negatively impact a student’s in-person class attendance. All instructors have full authority to set attendance policies that require in-person attendance in some way. The Division of eLearning can also recommend a variety of attendance-taking options, such as Poll Everywhere, a web-based audience response system that is fully integrated with Canvas. As always, if an instructor receives an accommodation request they believe is unreasonable for the course, the instructor should contact DSS directly.