See UAB's lecture-capture tech in action

Written by 

Editor's Note: The information published in this story is accurate at the time of publication. Always refer to for UAB's current guidelines and recommendations relating to COVID-19.

Throughout the summer, more than 150 classrooms at UAB have been outfitted with cameras, microphones and other equipment to enable hybrid learning for the fall semester. While some students in each course attend in person, others will attend remotely, watching live video from the classroom and interacting directly with the teacher and fellow students.

Scott Phillips, Ph.D., director of the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), demonstrates the technology from Heritage Hall Room 102 in this video.

Different spaces, different tech — same interaction

The automated tracking camera demonstrated by Phillips above is an ideal solution for large classrooms such as Room 102. What about smaller spaces?

Medium-sized rooms will have a similar camera that does not auto-track but is focused on the front of the room and can be changed by choosing one of the presets, Phillips explained.

Small classrooms do not have a camera feed as part of the lecture capture. The lecture capture video will record what is projected on the classroom screen and audio only. These rooms do have small webcams that can be used in the Zoom meeting and that meeting can be recorded (to the cloud).

Tech check

Find out which technology is installed in your classrooms with this searchable directory on the UAB eLearning site. eLearning has also produced graphics illustrating the technology in large, medium and small classrooms. Those same pages include a list of technology in the rooms and answers to frequently asked questions.

There are a few small classrooms where the solution will be a "huddle cam" — basically a portable web cam with a wide-angle lens, a microphone and a speaker — for capturing lectures.  IT support staff received their own huddle cams this week that can be used as a workaround in case of technical difficulties.

All rooms have been outfitted with microphones, if not already present, so that students participating remotely can hear and join in classroom discussion.

"There are different types of technologies for our different teaching spaces on campus, but ultimately it is the same interaction," Phillips said. "Most remote teaching will be happening through Zoom. Faculty have become quite good at using Zoom over the spring and summer semesters." The cameras and microphones in the classrooms will appear in the Zoom sessions faculty set up for their classes. "They can select those and run their Zoom meetings in the same way they have been doing in spring and summer," Phillips said.

Training — in-person and virtual

Faculty can get hands-on experience with this technology with in-person, small-group training at the CTL's new space on the fourth floor of Lister Hill Library. Register here to sign up for a 30-minute training session Aug. 18, 20, 24 or 26. Registration is required to participate; participants will receive an email with instructions on entering the building.

"We're encouraging people who are participating in the trainings to look for their classrooms on the eLearning site before they come so they can ask specific questions about the technology available in their rooms," Phillips said. "We will have the various kinds of configurations that faculty will see in their classrooms in our space in Lister Hill Library. We will talk about the general things to know in all classrooms and we then can do specific training and answer any questions."

Virtual training in lecture-capture and classroom technology also is available. UAB eLearning and IT are offering one-hour workshops on these topics 5:30 p.m. Aug. 17 and noon Aug. 19; eLearning also has a workshop offering a Zoom Overview for Teaching 11 a.m. Aug. 25.

The Lecture Capture site from eLearning offers an overview of the process, including a checklist of what to do before, during and after classes. This site also lists training options and technical support contacts.

Tools for teaching

The technology in UAB classrooms can be used in many different ways to support the educational experience, Phillips noted. "It's possible that a teacher could decide to pre-record their lecture and put it in Canvas for students to watch before the class meeting, for example," he said. "Then when students are in class, they can have discussion. We hope faculty will use their class time to put students in teams and have them work together on case studies or other interactions — with appropriate physical distancing, of course. That's taking advantage of the strength of hybrid instruction, that opportunity to be together in a physical space."

Is this on?

The class schedule has been programmed so that recording begins automatically at a designated start time for a class. “That will happen with a timer and faculty don’t have to worry about it,” Phillips said. (“In classes with only the Huddle Cam, faculty will push ‘record to the cloud’ on their Zoom meeting.”) Whatever is projecting through the classroom projector and picked up on camera (if present) will be recorded in one file in the faculty member’s Kaltura My Media in Canvas. “Faculty have the ability to edit that file if there is something they don’t want to be uploaded to their Canvas class page,” Phillips said. “We also recommend that all instructors record their Zoom meetings to the cloud as a backup recording to the automatic lecture capture.”