Many students these days choose to record audio of their lectures. This can be for a variety of reasons, such as if a lecture is going to be missed due to illness or if the subject matter is particularly complex. As with most things in life however, recording your lectures comes with advantages and disadvantages.
As already mentioned, if your course’s subject matter is particularly complex with a lot of difficult concepts or ideas to wrap your head around, then it can definitely help to listen to it a few times to help with comprehension. This can be especially true when it comes time to revise for your exams. Also, it can be difficult to trust the note taking of a fellow student (we all have different styles), so if you are going to miss a class, you may ask a friend to record it instead so that you can take notes later.
On the subject of note taking, it is true that some professors speak very fast and it can seem that the lecture moves at too much of a breakneck pace for you to take notes adequately. However, it is worth having a look at your note taking first as it could be that you are trying to write down too much, instead of just the important points.
On the other side of the coin, some people (both lecturers and students) may find people recording the lectures distracting. The fumbling around with devices or worrying about batteries etc. can take away from the overall experience of lecture attendance. Also, whilst it’s true that knowing that the lecture is on tape can be comforting, it can be so much so that you do not engage as completely with the lecture as you may have otherwise done without that safety net.
Legal and Courtesy Considerations
Now, I am sure that you are already flicking through online catalogues at all of the fancy recording devices that are available, but before you get too carried away, there are a few points to consider.
You should always talk to your professor about your wish to record their lectures. Many professors will have their own policies about their material being taped, as they are often considered a form of intellectual property. I reckon that nine times out of ten, the professor will have no issues with their lectures being recorded, but it is always best to be courteous and ask first.
The university itself may have policies regarding lecture recording. After all, the lecture content is a big part of what you are paying those not too diminutive fees for and they are likely to be covered by copyright law in one way or another. It may also be that your university records lectures anyway, so you could save yourself some time, effort and cash if you can simply download them from your school’s DLE.
Also, by all means share the recording with your classmates, but refrain from posting it online. You may find yourself in breach of copyright law which could land you in pretty hot water with your school.
Choosing a Device
There are a few different factors that you are going to want to consider. Before you buy a bespoke recording device, check whether your smartphone or laptop has the function available. Bear in mind however, that the quality of the recording that you’ll get from these is unlikely to be as good as that from a bespoke recorder.
You want to make sure that the audio sensitivity is good enough to pick up the voice of the lecturer. Make sure that you take into account the different ways in which people speak and the fact that you may be some distance from them. Some recorders also have background cancellation features to help eliminate any periphery sound that is likely to occur during classes.
You are more than likely to use a digital recorder than a more old fashioned tape type, as it will result in a clearer recording and make file transferring a lot simpler. However, make sure that the memory is sufficient and upgradeable. You may have to record a whole day’s worth of material without having the opportunity to copy it over, so make sure you have enough memory to accommodate this.
Recording the Lecture
Always carry out a test run with your recorder to make sure you know how to operate it correctly. Test recording at different distances to figure out how close you need to sit to the lecturer in order to get the best recording.
Figure out how long the battery lasts whilst recording and make sure that you have enough power to make it through the day. You may need to carry spare batteries or a charger, so that you can boost it halfway through the day. There is little worse than only getting half of the lecture on tape.
Always take notes as well as recording the lecture. It is general good practice to behave as if the recorder is not present. At best you won’t have to make notes at a later date and at worst you will have your notes in case anything goes wrong with the recording.
There you have our quick guide to the hows and whys of recording your classes. Please let us know your experiences of recording lectures and if you found any really great tech with which to do it.
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