Session 1C | Paper 2 – From face-to-face to remote learning: what can we learn from student experiences of pre-recorded lectures in the pandemic?

Dr Jane Secker, Geraldine Foley, Thomas Hanley & Dr Sara Reimers

This paper reports on research at City, University of London to explore the experiences of students studying International Politics during 2020-2021, when all teaching took place online due to COVID-19. Learning online accentuates the importance of issues such as student digital literacies and self-regulation, to cope with a large amount of information from multiple sources (Blau et al 2020; Murray et al, 2012). Therefore, we were keen to explore understand how students engaged with online resources in the context of the pandemic. It is also an opportunity to revisit Entwistle and Ramsden’s (1983) research into how students learn and the balance between deep and surface approaches.

We conducted 8 focus groups with students and a survey which was completed by approximately 80 students. In total 30 students participated in focus groups who were a mix of post and undergraduates. We also drew upon findings from a survey completed by over 500 students that focused on their ‘digital experiences’ during COVID (Jisc 2020); Regan & Voce, 2021).

We explore students’ experience of asynchronous learning activities, with a specific focus on pre-recorded lectures and consider their role in promoting deep learning in an online education context. Pre-recorded lectures were created by the lecturers to help provide a more engaging learning experience, but also created as part of an inclusive approach to online learning. Student responses were largely positive due to factors such as flexibility, autonomy and accessibility. For example, recorded lectures were seen as more inclusive by students, as long as they were provided with transcripts or captions.

We also consider these findings in light of a new lecture recording policy launched in 2021 and consider whether the pandemic might be an opportunity to change teaching for the better. Pre-recorded lectures could be a way to free up face to face time for more small group teaching activities. We discuss the findings in the context of a commuter university, in which many students are travelling to classes from their family home. This paper conclude by discussing the challenges and opportunities presented by pre-recorded lectures and present findings that should help City teachers make best use of this technology in their own teaching.

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I. Blau, T. Shamir-Inbal, and A. Orit, “How does the pedagogical design of a technology-enhanced collaborative academic course promote digital literacies, self-regulation, and perceived learning of students?” The Internet and Higher Education, vol 45, pp.1096-7516, 2020. Retrieved from

Entwistle, N., & Ramsden, P. (1983). Understanding Student Learning (Routledge Revivals) (1st ed.). Routledge.

Murray, M., Pérez, J., Geist, D., Hedrick, A., & Steinbach, T. “Student Interaction with Online Course Content: Build It and They Might Come,” Journal Of Information Technology Education, vol 11; pp.125-140. 2012.

Jisc “Student digital experience insights survey 2020/21: UK higher education (HE) survey findings. 2021. Retrieved from:

Regan, L and Voce, J. “Digital capability and City students,” 2021 Retrieved from

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