Today's technology gives us limitless opportunities to explore new pedagogies but instead we use technology to continue doing what we've always done. Online lectures are everywhere, freely available from iTunes, Academic Earth, YouTube Edu and almost every university's web site. They're very popular and many of them are indeed excellent. On the other hand many of them should never have been released.
That's the subject of a critical article by Mark Smithers entitled Is lecture capture the worst educational technology?. He's not against lectures when done well but the practice of simply recording every lecture on campus and putting it on the net is largely counter productive. A dull lecture is twice as dull on the net.
"Traditional lectures aren’t designed for online delivery. They’re too long. Their length is designed to fit in with the timetabling constraints of the buildings in which lectures take place not for any pedagogical reason. Why should this physical constraint be allowed to migrate its way into flexible online delivery?"
The answer is to divide the lecture into shorter sessions and record them with a net audience as the target. Smithers states that mass use of lecture capture is simply an easy way out for universities under pressure to show that they are keeping up with digital development. Filming lectures shows you are involved in online learning without having to change your methods and traditions. Universities who really use the potential of the net (like, say Open University or Athabasca University) have had to invest an awful lot of time and resources rethinking how they teach and plan courses. That costs money and forces a lot of radical changes. Not everyone is ready to open Pandora's box.
"The argument is that staff can deliver their material online but still maintain their traditional delivery practice as well. That is to say, all they need to do is click a button and they’re delivering material online. I’m not really quite sure why an ability to avoid providing staff development is seen as a positive attribute for an edtech but it would seem to the case here. Actually, I do know the reason, it’s because staff development involves cultural and organisational change within a higher education institution and that is much harder than installing servers and recording devices."