Department for Continuing Education
- Hardware and Software Solutions Online Learning
The Department for Continuing Education specialises in adult education, and provides courses for nonuniversity members. It has more than 15,000 students each year, studying on over 800 different courses.
Many of these courses are structured as weekly online meetings, combined with the viewing of recorded
talks, and the use of other online materials. With such a strong emphasis on online learning, the
department makes extensive use of lecture capture.
The department has made use of lecture capture software for many years now, predominantly using a
hardware-based solution called Mediasite. When Replay was piloted, they elected to participate in the
project in order to investigate if a software solution might be more suited to their needs.
Context
 Using lecture capture for 4-5 years
 A lot of recorded data has been generated
 Using a hardware solution for lecture
capture
 Employing it for conferences, lectures,
public broadcasts, and open days
 One lecture theatre is equipped for Replay
 Lecturing staff are accustomed to being
recorded, and often give lectures without a
live audience
Key Challenges
 Must perform both live broadcasts and
lecture recording
 Should be accessible to those without an
Oxford SSO login
 Needs to be capable of storing recordings
indefinitely
 Ought to be simple enough for nontechnical users to use effectively
“It’s very good”
Ray Allen, Business Systems Development Manager at the Department for
Continuing Education
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“AV is very important”
“[A software solution] should be
easier; it’s University supported, so
it should be better supported; it’s
more scalable”
“There are all sorts of advantages
to using [a software solution]”
Hardware vs Software
Hardware Solutions
Advantages

Local staff have more control over the
hardware setup, and can therefore ensure that it
is sufficiently powerful and of good enough
quality to perform the task.
Disadvantages




Extra hardware must be purchased and
installed in every room where recording takes
place.
The hardware is often expensive, and some
models are prone to breaking, thus requiring
replacement.
Specialist knowledge is needed to run and
maintain the hardware.
Implementation of such systems is often quite
‘sophisticated’ and difficult to learn. This may
cause problems when technical members of
staff leave the department.
Future Plans at the
Department for Continuing
Education


Continue using and testing Replay.
Wait for central IT Services to make a decision on
a University-wide solution before choosing the
option that best suits the needs of the
Department for Continuing Education.
Software Solutions
Advantages




The software runs off a laptop or desktop
computer ̶ no extra hardware needs to be
purchased or installed
The solution is portable since the laptop can
be moved from room to room.
No specialist knowledge is required to run it.
It is more easily scalable.
Disadvantages


The local IT team has less control over the
hardware being used, and so it is harder to
ensure that it is sufficiently powerful and of
good enough quality.
The computer doing the recording must have
the software pre-installed, which is an extra
step for those presenters who wish to use
their own laptops.
Conclusions
While the IT team at the department has a ‘technical
preference’ for a software solution they have yet to
make a final decision. The department prefers to
make many of its recordings publicly available, which
may not be financially viable under the Replay system
as it currently stands. Nevertheless, the department
will seriously consider whichever solution the central
University considers to be the ‘best of breed’, and so
is waiting to see what course the rest of the University
chooses before deciding on its own path.
Oxford plans to roll out Replay as a full service in 2016
Want to find out more?
Contact the Replay team at: [email protected]
Check out the latest Replay news at: http://blogs.it.ox.ac.uk/lecture-capture
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