Technical Information

Scale of the service

Lecture capture is currently offered in approximately 400 teaching spaces across the University campus, with new rooms regularly being equipped. 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 in final viewing figures.

Prior to 2013 lecture capture was on a voluntary basis and attracted between 10% to 20% of academics. In the summer of 2013 Senate – the principal academic authority of the University – passed a policy to bring in the current opt-out system. Over the years, lecturers have adopted the service, and the proportion of opt-outs has reduced year on year, down to a testimonial amount.


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, planning of the recording process, processing of videos and their distribution to 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 PCs running an application called Galicaster, which is another free, open-source application offered by a commercial company called TELTEK.

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 information can be found on the video camera recordings page.

Opt-out policy

The service operates on an opt-out basis, which means that all timetabled lectures taking place in Podcast-capable rooms, will be automatically recorded, unless opted-out by teaching members of staff. This is in according with the Policy on the Recording of Lectures and other Teaching and Learning Activities, which can be found in full in this policy document.

Teaching staff associated with lecture activities are emailed a link to a page allowing them to specify their recording Preferences at the beginning of each semester.

Specialised support for DASS students

Students who are registered with the Disability Advisory Support Service (DASS) and listed as requiring Podcasting as part of their support plans will be able to access lecture recordings even if the lecturer opts-out. This means that all timetabled lectures will be recorded and published, but only visible to staff and DASS-registered students on the course. Additionally, any lecture that is being held 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.