My week - 12 October 2015 - Professor Neil Morris

Professor Neil Morris reviews digital learning innovation at Leeds.


With the start of another academic year, it is an exciting but busy time for everyone on campus.  And it is a great year to be involved with student education after the news over the summer of a 90% overall satisfaction score in the National Student Survey.  In this short piece, I would like to update colleagues on the latest developments in digital learning to support staff and students to maintain and extend our excellence in student education. 

With the start of term, I have been engaged in lots of conversations about lecture capture as we enter the second year of this new initiative.  Last year was a great success, with over 30,000 hours of teaching recorded and released to students. 

Student engagement with the content has been phenomenal, with over two thirds of students watching content, and a total of 650,000 views over the year.  All student feedback has been extremely positive about the quality and availability of recordings. 

We have also analysed the impact of lecture capture on students’ attendance at scheduled teaching sessions.  Whilst there are some local exceptions, the overall picture is that lecture capture does not affect students’ attendance at lectures, which I am sure will be welcome news to academic colleagues. 

We have been delighted to see that this year, the institutional take-up of lecture capture has risen to 72% (from 58% last year).  We are confident this will continue to have a positive impact on students’ learning and their overall student experience.

This year we have also launched a number of other digital initiatives to support students’ learning: VideoLeeds, Mediasite access for students and Blackboard Collaborate. 

VideoLeeds is a video sharing site to share audio and video content with members of the University and with the public, directly from the lecture capture system.  There are already over 350 videos on VideoLeeds, and you can contribute content such as:

  • excerpts from scheduled lecture capture recordings or recordings made with the desktop capture tool
  • footage of public events or guest speakers
  • videos of practical demonstrations
  • educational and marketing material for internal and external publication
  • student produced presentations, interviews or end of degree shows
  • research materials for internal sharing or external publication.

We have also provided access to Mediasite (and the Desktop Capture tool) to all taught and research students.  This will allow students to create, manage and publish video and audio content and share these with peers and tutors, or more widely with University members or the general public via VideoLeeds. 

We have also recently invested in Blackboard Collaborate as an institutional web-conferencing and interactive classroom tool to support and enhance Student Education.  Blackboard Collaborate allows staff and students to have real-time conversations using audio, video, chat, screen-sharing, breakout rooms and make recordings of sessions via the Virtual Learning Environment and web. 

The initial deployment is taking place with early adopters and current Adobe Connect users through September and early October.  Further information will be provided when the software has been released to all staff during October.

Finally, we are very proud to have produced an online credit-bearing module entitled ‘Studying in a Digital Age’ for incoming undergraduate students in three Schools; this pilot is going very well and is successfully supporting students’ induction to the wide range of digital tools, services and approaches that we use at the University.  The module also has a strong disciplinary context to support students’ introduction to digital scholarship and research in their subject. 

For more information about this module, you can watch the introductory video.  

This year we will be focusing on two major digital learning initiatives: eassessment and Online Distance Learning.  We will be consulting widely with staff and students about these projects, so look out for opportunities to contribute your thoughts on this website during the Autumn term.  

My Media
Blackboard Collaborate – see SDDU Changing Landscapes for information  

With best wishes for the academic year,


Neil Morris
Director of Digital Learning


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