skip to content

Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning


Photograph of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Lecture Theatre, Department of Chemistry

Lecture Capture

Lecture capture at Cambridge has been designed as a supplement to, not a substitution for, the live lecture experience.  This page contains information for staff and students about the ways that lecture capture can be used effectively to support learning, and has links to technical and policy guidance to aid implementation.  

Guidance for Staff (click to expand/collapse)

Why should I record?

Research by the Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning on students’ experiences during the pandemic showed that they reported a loss of social engagement with wholly-online learning during the pandemic, and commented on the value of being inspired and motivated by in-person sessions. They also struggled with cohort bonding and support when wholly online, demonstrating clear value in live teaching sessions.

However, lecture recordings are clearly desired by students, and can aid their learning. The CCTL research above, student surveys, and wider research across the Higher Education sector1 shows that students value recordings for the following reasons:

  • Opportunity to pause, rewind, or revisit content; this aided consolidation of learning and revision but also enabled them to work in a way that supports their own ways of learning by providing more effective study time, utilising physical models alongside the recording to help visualise key concepts, or using captions to reinforce spoken content.
  • Increased wellbeing, and reduced anxiety; this applied particularly to lessening anxiety about missing content during a live session, but was also attributed to an increased sense of control and ability to manage their workload more effectively and be less overwhelmed by the intensity of work.
  • Supporting Universal Design, minimising the need for reasonable adjustments at an individual level and supporting a wider range of student requirements.
  • Providing access to learning if students are unable to attend in person. While a recording will not provide the same benefit as a live session, it can be a helpful resource if students aren’t able to attend due to timetabling conflicts or illness. Without the recording, students may struggle to keep up with foundational material in preparation for supervisions or later teaching sessions.

Because of this value, the University has set out an expectation that recordings of lectures will be made whenever possible, and expects that recording will not be unduly hindered. However, recording is not formally required and there may be reasons why recording is not deemed suitable. In all cases, students should be given clear guidance about whether or not recordings will take place.  It is also important to give students clear information about how you feel recordings are best used as part of the overall educational delivery of the course.


When might I not record?

Staff may use their judgement on whether a session is right for recording, due to its content and structure. Sessions based around interaction or discussion, and where much of the learning experience comes from the live session, might not be suitable for recording. Likewise, content heavily based around unpublished personal research, or dealing with controversial or sensitive subject matter, may mean that recording is less desirable. 

If you choose not to record, you should ensure this is clearly communicated to students.  You should also consider alternatives to provide similar benefits for students, and these may be essential where students have a requirement for reasonable adjustments. Providing a range of methods for students to access content can enable them to engage with required learning more effectively and in a way which suits the individual. We have provided some examples below, but individuals will be best placed to decide on alternatives that work well with their discipline, course, and teaching style. Examples might be:

  • Providing full handouts, so that students can focus ‘in the moment’ during the live session and not worry about missing content.
  • Giving students 1-2 summary slides to pull together everything you expect them to have learned from the session.
  • Providing a short (5-10 minute) pre-recorded video of key concepts within the lecture; this can assist in revisiting note-taking and revising, and help to ‘ground’ the content in the learning objectives of the course overall. The TEL Service can help you to create these.
  • Offering (if you aren’t already) Q&A sessions, in person or via Moodle, where students can seek support for key topics they didn’t understand during the session. This could alternatively be done via the supervision system.

Can I delay release of recordings to make students attend in person?

No; while a short delay to support editing or captioning may be appropriate, delaying release of recordings can significantly disadvantage learners whether or not they have attended the live session, and is poorly aligned with both inclusive design and student wellbeing. Where students have attended a lecture, recordings offer opportunities to consolidate learning and supplement notes, revisit topics prior to supervision, and revise for assessment. Where they were unable to attend, recordings offer a critical opportunity to engage with content at the time in which it was intended. Delaying access can result in students being unprepared with foundational content for later learning, or binge-watching recordings because they were unable to keep up throughout the term.


Can I restrict access only to disabled students?

This is strongly discouraged, as it forces students to declare a disability and be formally assessed before accessing recordings; this can be a long and difficult process, during which the student is unsupported and may fall further behind in their learning.

Furthermore, it undermines our goal to provide an inclusive educational experience for all students. Disabled students represent 20% of the total student population at Cambridge, and there are significant numbers of students who choose not to disclose a disability. Disabled students are therefore likely to be accessing any courses, and the University has an anticipatory duty to make reasonable adjustments, which would normally encompass recordings.

However, if there are reasons that recordings should not be made available more widely but a disabled student requires them as a reasonable adjustment, this is technically possible but can be administratively burdensome. The Disability Resource Centre has produced further guidance, which you can access here.



1 See in particular Nordmann et al 2019 and Edwards & Clinton 2019.  For consolidated summaries of sector research, see these pages from the Quality Assurance Agency (Scotland), the University of Toronto and Panopto.

Guidance for Students (click to expand/collapse)

Will all my teaching be recorded?

Attending live lectures is the most effective way to learn, but we understand that sometimes students are unable to attend every session.  

The University has set out an expectation to make recorded lectures available wherever possible.  However, there are a variety of circumstances under which some of your teaching may not be recorded.  

  • Not all teaching spaces are currently equipped with lecture capture technology.
  • Some lecture capture installations may be old or experience technical issues (e.g., poor audio).
  • Individual lecturers may decide whether a session is right for recording.
  • The expectation covers only lectures, and sessions that specifically rely on discussion are not likely to be recorded.

You should not presume that a recording will be available on all parts of your course.

How can I make the most of available recordings?

Your education is made up of a lot of different pieces: lectures, supervisions, peer discussions, assignments, feedback, and your own independent reading.  Your course has been designed to provide the right information, at the right time, so aim to stay as close to this structure as possible to aid your learning experience.

Lecture recordings give opportunities to top up your notes from a live session, or revisit complex topics.  Aim to use them with your independent reading and critical review, to formulate your own ideas and understanding.

  • Lectures do not provide you with a “source of truth”, so don’t spend hours using the recording to create detailed verbatim notes, and don’t rewatch every recording repeatedly to make sure you’ve got it all.  Use the recording as you would the live lecture, to supplement your understanding.
  • Think about what you want to revisit in the recording, and why.
  • Try to catch up as soon as possible if you do miss a live session; a steady structure will serve you better than bingeing over a holiday period or before assessment.
  • Don’t watch lectures at faster speeds, as you are more likely to miss something.

Panopto top tips

  • Within a video, you can Search for key words in contents, captions, notes, bookmarks, and more.  You can filter results and click to jump to the specific part of the recording you want to rewatch.
  • Add Bookmarks to a recording; this can be useful for revision at a later date, or to discuss a particular concept in more depth during supervisions.  Bookmarks are private to you and aren’t visible to anyone else.
  • Your class may use Discussion in Panopto, which are public comments you add to a video that anyone can reply to.
  • Depending on the room setup, some recordings will have multiple screens from which you can select the best view for you, changing your view between (for example), the visualiser, slides, or an in-class demonstration.
  • Similar to Bookmarks, you can add Notes as you go through a video which you can later use to jump to that section of the recording.  These are private by default but you can choose to make them public to others in your class.



Where can I get further help?

Lecture Capture Support Pages:

Blended Learning Guidance:

Library Study Skills Catalogue:

For help with lecture capture, please contact