December: video project update

[2014-12-14 Sun]

The video project has been progressing nicely: all of the videos have now been compressed and most have been uploaded to either Youtube or Lecturecast.

The Methods 3 videos have accrued more than 11,000 minutes of views: an average of 37 views each with an average view duration of just over 10 minutes.

One can make some interesting deductions about study patterns. Methods 3, Lecture 10, part 1 (with 92 views at an average of 14.41 minutes per view) is the most watched. It concerns the theory and computation of Fourier series and the application of this to the solution of the heat equation. A large number of these views occurred the day before a homework was due which made heavy use of the material in this lecture. As a counterpoint to this, reading week (when the students had extra time to catch up on lectures) was a time of relatively low-use. In general, activity peaks around the time when homework deadlines loom and I anticipate that we will have another huge peak around exam term.


I have had some very positive feedback about how useful the videos have been (even offers to film for free!) and some excellent suggestions for improvement. These included adding the date of the lecture to the video title (for ease of comparison with lecture notes) and giving more detailed descriptions of lecture content in the video caption (including timings of different sections of each lecture); this would make it easier to navigate through a solid hour of material. While I don't have time to do this scrupulously, I have added some pointers in some of the videos.

The audio quality is still pretty poor and I do not know how to improve this.

A Moodle feedback questionnaire had relatively low uptake (11/195 responses), so nothing of statistically significance can be said. All but one respondent thought videos were useful in principle, but by its nature the questionnaire is likely to attract responses from students who were most enthusiastic about the videos in the first place. The comments left were extremely positive.


I had to compress my videos much further before they were able to be uploaded to Lecturecast, and the Lecturecast system has proved very user-unfriendly. For instance, uploads are made using a Java applet which fails to run on Linux because it requires unrestricted permissions (even Windows warns you about this and explains that the code will soon be deprecated). What’s wrong with a simple HTML upload form?

Note that eight out of the eleven students who responded to the Moodle questionnaire preferred the lectures to be available on Youtube rather than Lecturecast. Two had no strong opinion. One preferred Lecturecast. I do not see that the sample bias present in the questionnaire (self-selecting the most enthusiastic students) would correlate with this particular variable, so I am inclined to take this at face value (bearing in mind that the sample size is rather small).

The next step

At this point in the project two things are clear:

To elaborate on the second point:

I think the full picture of how useful these videos have been will only emerge later in the year (at exam time).

Comments, corrections and contributions are very welcome; please drop me an email at j.d.evans at if you have something to share.

CC-BY-SA 4.0 Jonny Evans.