Lecture capture: An inclusive and flexible safety net for all

Chiara Horlin, Barbora Hronska, & Emily Nordmann (corresponding author)
All affiliations School of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Glasgow

The number of disabled and neurodivergent students progressing to higher education continues to grow with conservative estimates of an overall estimate of 17.3% for all UG and PG students (Office for Students, 2021). The recording of live lectures as a reasonable adjustment for those with specific learning difficulties (SpLDs) such as dyslexia, or deaf and hard-of-hearing students is relatively uncontroversial. However, mainstream provision of recordings to support diverse  needs continues to provoke disagreement (Robson et al., 2022).  The debate surrounding lecture capture often focuses on its putative impact on attendance (e.g., Edwards & Clinton, 2018; Nordmann et al., 2018). Yet in addition to there being no consistent evidence recordings negatively impact attendance, it is important not to conflate attendance with engagement.
In a new study, we explored the impact and usage of lecture recordings with a particular focus on disabled and neurodivergent students to provide insight into how lecture recordings help support engagement. The full write-up will be available in summer 2023 as a preprint, below, we summarise three main themes extracted using reflexive thematic analysis from open text responses to a mixed-method survey.

An Inclusive Tool for Learning 

Participants described how lecture recordings provide maximum access, adaptability and opportunity for learning by a) acting as a tool for consolidation and preparation, and/or b) permitting functional flexibility that could best serve individual needs. Over 40% reported using recordings to compliment and consolidate learning rather than replace attendance. Adapting pace by pausing, slowing down, speeding up and using captions was mentioned by 48% of participants and demonstrates how recordings were functionally adaptable to each individual.
I have auditory processing difficulties so have to pause often to be able to digest what was said or if i have become distracted, lectures are often too content dense to digest it in the live time.

A Flexible Safety Net 

Participants also identified that recordings served a broader purpose beyond the immediate learning context by providing a ‘safety net’ more holistically. Overwhelmingly, lecture recordings provided a degree of flexibility that allowed students to accommodate competing demands, adapt to unavoidable environmental circumstances, and prioritise the care and safety of themselves and others. Participants described factors relating to their disability or neurodivergence:
Lecture recordings to me means that having a bad day physically or mentally is not a death sentence; they are a reassurance that even if I’m too sick to go or if I struggle focusing in the lecture, I still have the same opportunity to learn the material on a better day.

But also highlighted the cost of living and the financial and time drain of commuting:
I have missed a few lectures recently as I commute to university and rely on public trains and subways, which have been running a reduced timetable due to strike action or closed for maintenance. Some days I also have only a 1 hour class, meaning I would spend more time travelling to and from university than I actually would in class, so usually on those days I will stay at home and watch the recordings to save money and time commuting.

Questioning Assumptions and Prototypes 

Finally, beyond surface descriptions of need for flexibility there was a strong sentiment of rejecting anachronistic learning environments and assumptions of what both learning, and learners, should look like.
It levels the playing field between able bodied/ neurotypical students and those who aren’t. Every student gains an advantage by having them available, but the most important thing is that those with disabilities are finally NOT at a disadvantage.
The majority of participants with disabilities who described access to recordings as being essential to their learning, also stated that it does not become their default, and physical attendance remains their first and motivating preference.
I do prefer the interaction, atmosphere and more active learning I gain from physically attending lectures, but sometimes it just isn’t possible 


Previous work looking at the efficacious use of lecture recordings targeted developing students as self-regulated learners (Nordmann et al., 2019). A common retort to requests to provide flexibility is that higher education should prepare students for the “real world”.  However, this “real world” necessarily involves significant self-regulation in managing competing demands such as illness, commuting costs and caring responsibilities alongside education and/or employment obligations.  Alongside concerted efforts to make HE accessible to more diverse groups of people, these challenges  will affect many more students than are formally registered with disability services. Providing lecture recordings for all students is one way in which higher education can implement the principle of multiple engagement advocated by Universal Design for Learning (Meyer et al., 2014). Research on lecture capture should move away from a preoccupation with attendance, and instead seek to explore engagement and the impact of different behaviours such as pausing or adjusting the speed of playback.

Chiara Horlin is a Lecturer in the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Glasgow and founder/leader of the Neurodiversity Network. Her research focuses on promoting inclusion of neurodivergent people within education and the workplace. 

Barbora Hronska is an undergraduate student in the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Glasgow.  

Emily Nordmann is a Senior Lecturer and Deputy Director of Education in the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Glasgow. Her research focuses on staff and student approaches to lecture capture.


Edwards, M.R., Clinton, M.E. (2019). A study exploring the impact of lecture capture availability and lecture capture usage on student attendance and attainment. Higher Education, 77, 403–421. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-018-0275-9

Meyer, A., Rose, D. H., & Gordon, D. (2014). Universal Design for Learning, theory and practice (p. 234). Wakefield: CAST Professional Publishing. 

Nordmann, E., Kuepper-Tetzel, C. E., Robson, L., Phillipson, S., Lipan, G. I., & McGeorge, P. (2022). Lecture capture: Practical recommendations for students and instructors. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology, 8(3), 174–193. https://doi.org/10.1037/stl0000190

Nordmann, E., Calder, C., Bishop, P. et al. (2019). Turn up, tune in, don’t drop out: the relationship between lecture attendance, use of lecture recordings, and achievement at different levels of study. Higher Education, 77, 1065–1084. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-018-0320-8

Office for Students. (2021). Equality, diversity and student characteristics data. Retrieved from https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/data-and-analysis/student-characteristics-data/  

Robson, L., Gardner, B., & Dommett, E.J. (2022). The Post-Pandemic Lecture: Views from Academic Staff across the UK. Education Sciences, 12(2), 123. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci12020123

3 thoughts on “Lecture capture: An inclusive and flexible safety net for all

  1. Excellent to see this work being done. As with all accommodations for those with disabilities, the benefits reach beyond that group. When working with women returner students who are caring for a family alongside study the challenges of family life – sick children, childcare, etc – also require us to rethink how we can support learning for those who are unable to attend through no fault of their own, and who need the information in bite-sized chunks they can access in between caring responsibilities.


  2. Lecture capture also helps autistic lecturers like me, I can focus on giving a good lecture then re-use the recording instead of having to repeat the lecture when teaching hundreds of students the same material


  3. Pingback: Reflecting on the role of the SEDA Blog in ‘Supporting and Leading Educational Change’ | thesedablog

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