Lecture Capture at The University of Manchester

In 2013 the University introduced a new centralised lecture capture service (known as the Podcasting Service) and a policy governing its operation. Support information for staff can be found in the Staff FAQs and support for students can be found in the Student FAQs.

If you are a member of staff whose teaching will be recorded, we strongly recommend you read the essential information page.

All podcasts can be viewed on the University Podcast Video Portal.

This information below provides general interest information about the lecture capture service and its operation over the past few years. 

Opt-out policy

Prior to 2013 lecture capture was on a voluntary basis and attracted between 10% to 20% of academics. During the summer of 2013 Senate – the principal academic authority of the University – considered and passed a policy governing the future use of lecture capture at the institution. The policy can be read in full in this policy document.

The opt-out policy radically changed lecture capture at the University; rather than it being a limited experience, it was suddenly available on the majority of courses. Teaching staff are emailed a link to an opt-out web page at the start of semester from which they can opt-out on a lecture-by-lecture basis and change their choice at any point during the academic year.

Scale of the service

Currently lecture capture is offered in 365 lecture theatres and teaching spaces across campus. This number tends to fluctuate regularly as teaching rooms are brought in and out of service. In the 2018/19 academic year approximately 62,000 hours of lectures were recorded – being viewed over 6 million times.

Although the lecture capture service is now large and ubiquitous, it originally started out as a small pilot in 10 lecture theatres and has grown over time through a series of projects, as shown in the table below.

*2019/20 figures reflect the closure of campus in March 2020 due to COVID-19 and the subsequent introduction of dual-delivery teaching.
**2020 onwards reflect a significant shift toward embedded content being viewed (rather than directly on the Video Portal). At this time, embedded views are not taken into account.

Specialised support for disabled students

Starting in September 2016, University of Manchester students can now access a unique and specialised form of support.
If a student is registered with the Disability Advisory Support Service (DASS) and DASS believe lecture capture will support a students’ studies, they can prescribe lecture capture as a reasonable adjustment. This means that 100% of lectures will be recorded for these students even if they have been opted-out of the recording process. Additionally, any lecture that is being withheld for editing will be released to DASS registered students after 24-hours if it remains unedited.

Approximately 2,000 students were provided with this additional study aid in 2016/17 and it was very well received. Over 82% of students described the additional recordings as essential to their studies, 83% of students made frequent use of the material and 94% of surveyed students felt they would go on to gain higher marks due to the lecture recordings.

Comments from students included:

“Makes it much more accessible and I feel more included and a valued member of the university.”

“This has genuinely been perhaps the most important help from the entire DASS experience”

“If it weren’t for the lecture recordings being made available to me I would not be able to complete my course units.”

“Podcasts are more accessible and discrete than the voice recorders that had to be used previously, Its a massive improvement.”

DASS provides the recommendation for lecture capture with a targeted approach; individual cases are assessed for their requirements and additional lecture capture is only provided when it will be of benefit to the student concerned.

Of the 5,551 students registered with the DASS office in the 2016/17 academic year, 2,126 received additional lecture capture. This cohort in descending order consists of: 49.6% with learning disabilities, 42.9% with mental health disabilities, 13.8% with other disabilities, 5.4% with multiple disabilities, 5.3% with unseen disabilities, 2.0% autistic/Aspergers Syndrome, 0.9% mobility disabilities, 0.9% deaf/partial hearing, 0.5% blind/ partially sighted.


The lecture capture service at The University of Manchester is primarily based on an open-source lecture capture system known as Opencast, which orchestrates timetable synchronisation, the planning of the recording process, processing of videos and their distribution to our students.

Opencast is free to use for educational institutions and has provided us with a flexible, highly scaleable and cost effective approach to lecture capture.

Opencast has a community of users who maintain, improve and support the software system. An annual summit is held to share best practice in the lecture capture community and to decide the future direction of the product as part of the wider Apereo Foundation.

The systems that are used in lecture theatres are generic mini-itx PCs running an application called Galicaster which is another free open-source application offered by a commercial company called TELTEK.

The open-source nature of these systems has allowed us to make innovative changes such as a recording for disabled students (mentioned above), our semi-autonomous editing system based on QR codes and the extreme reliability of the system.

Tracking video cameras

Some locations on campus have tracking video cameras installed which allows high-quality video of the lecturer to be recorded in addition to, or instead of, what is shown on the projector screen.

This can be particularly beneficial for subject areas where the lecturer makes use of the black or whiteboards regularly, as this would not normally be recorded as part of the podcast.

The use of tracking cameras is only available by staff manually opting in to their use. More informationcan be found on the video camera recordings page.

Cost & Staffing

The total cost to equip 322 rooms including staffing and equipment for the capitol phase of the project came to £1.2 million. The team responsible for running the lecture capture service comprises seven people whose duties also cover live streaming, equipment lending and custom recording solutions.