I have to say that one of my least favorite aspects of teaching is trying to get students caught up after an absence. An extended absence can undermine a student for a long time. If they miss out on a critical lecture, then they don't even need to be gone for a long period of time in order to fall behind. The further behind they fall, the harder and more frustrating it is to catch up. Trying to catch up in more than one class only makes the challenge of getting caught up harder and the potential for a student feeling overwhelmed greater. I want to do what I can to make students' jobs easier, but rarely do I have time to even nutshell a lecture for them.

Lecture capture software is my new best friend. I don't feel comfortable with a camera playing in my room. Plus, I feel like students act for the camera. Thankfully, lecture capture does not require filming a whole entire lesson. Can you really see a teenager taking time to watch a 60-minute lecture outside of school? With all of the gadgets out there vying for their attention, watching a teacher droning on and on about commas or parabolic equations really doesn't really stand a chance of capturing his attention. Finding lecture capture options that work for students requires going beyond the basics and finding the best options that today's technology has to offer. In the 80s, lecture capture was nothing more than an audio recording. Today lecture capture is much more interactive.

For example, depending on what software a teacher uses, lecture capture could be anything from a narrated slide show to an interactive website. While a slide show might not sound highly entertaining, it really all depends on what sort of software the teacher creates. Integrating videos and audio is one way to make a slide show less slide-showy. Besides, a narrated slide show gives students the ability to pause, take notes, replay, and start over until they understand. Sometimes I think that students would get more out of in-class lectures if they had these same options. Web sites offer more options for integration. Depending on how much time a teacher has to dedicate to creating the website, she can pack the Web site with interactive features or only include a few. I personally have not been able to develop a Web site for my classes, but I have colleagues who find them quite useful.

They say that Web sites are a hit with their students because they are a medium that students are more familiar with. I have only been using lecture software for a few months now, but it has already proven a useful tool for supporting learning. I only use narrated slide shows so far, but the success I have had with them has piqued my interest in finding new ways to reach students outside of the classroom. No longer do I have to wait for students to get back to get them caught up. In fact, I have found that if I make a good effort to keep up with my lessons, students can even follow along with lessons from home.

Because they don't fall behind as much, they don't get as discouraged, so they have a better attitude about their ability to succeed at school. I can't believe I didn't do something sooner to reach students after, or during, an absence. While lecture capture software will not solve all educational challenges, it helps me to overcome one of my biggest challenges, and that is enough to make lecture capture software my new best friend.