CIS Lecture Capture Classrooms

Like the rest of RIT, the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (CIS) has been expanding its offerings of online courses. With this came the challenge of ensuring that faculty could easily provide a comparable experience for off-campus students.

Roger Dube
Roger Dube

To do this, CIS wanted to find a lecture-capture system that was largely transparent for faculty and supplied high-quality videos for students. After assessing several systems, Director and Department Chair Stefi Baum and Research Professor Roger Dube chose Matterhorn, an open-source platform to capture and manage video recordings.

System Requirements

Students

  • High quality video
  • High quality audio
  • 24/7 access
  • Live streaming
  • Closed captioning

Faculty

  • Automatic and unobtrusive
  • “Walk in and start talking”
  • No need to rewrite lectures
  • Compatible with existing whiteboard classrooms

RIT

  • Closed captioning
  • Cost
  • Scalability
  • Ease of deployment
  • Ease of upgrade and maintenance
  • Live streaming with interactivity

For CIS, Matterhorn represented a turnkey system that put minimal burden on faculty and provided a flexible, high-quality experience for students. Also, as an open-source application, RIT has been able to implement enhancements to the system as they have become available.

One of the main advantages of Matterhorn is that the system automatically manages individual recordings for each class. At the beginning of the term, start and end times for all classes to be recorded are programmed into the system. Once that is done, the system starts to record automatically at the beginning of each class. All the instructor has to do is clip on the wireless microphone.

At the end of class, the system stops recording and begins processing the file to place it on the server, where students can access it. Recordings are usually ready for viewing within a couple of hours after the end of class.

The Matterhorn system that is currently installed in two CIS classrooms includes a camera that covers the front of the room, a Smartboard that the instructor can use to display presentations, show videos, or draw diagrams, and a monitor that shows the instructor what is being recorded and his or her sound level. CIS also has a cart that can be moved into any classroom to record into the Matterhorn system.

To view the lectures online, students have a link to a page that lists all of the recordings for the class. Individual lecture URLs can also be put into myCourses. Students can watch the feeds from both the camera and the Smartboard side-by-side, or select just one. Students can pause, rewind, and rewatch videos, a benefit that many campus students take advantage of along with the online students.

Matterhorn Student View
Student View

Since CIS implemented Matterhorn in the fall of 2012, the system has gained enthusiastic acceptance from faculty. Individual professors have enhanced the distance learning experience, integrating Skype, Google Hangouts and other applications to allow remote participation. Others use it to record demos of difficult labs that students can reference when working on their own projects.

Initially, Roger and two graduate students provided technical support, but the CIS System Administrators now carry out that function. Future plans to upgrade Matterhorn include streaming live lectures and providing two-way communication with remote students, as well as live captioning.

What's in the Lecture-Capture Classroom?
  • HD camera
  • Podium-based camera
  • Smartboard
  • Projection system
  • Podium control center
  • Hands-free microphone
  • VGA hookups
  • PC configured with the Matterhorn system
  • Internet connectivity

You can see eaxmples of lectures captured with the Matterhorn system here.