The wonderful world of low-tech lectures recording:

Making Low-Tech lectures into High Tech Distance learning



Due to the availability of video cameras, a huge number of lectures, colloquiums and presentations are being recorded on a regular basis.  Some are prepared and recorded as distance learning courses, often combining `talking heads' and well-prepared animated slides. Such recordings of usually of excellent technical quality, with cleanly articulated materials. But there are two costs. First, preparation is expensive, especially when extensive manual editing is required. Second, the liveliness of the live lecture is lost.

Our research aims to make distance-learning resources out of video recordings of truly live lectures in face-to-face settings. Videos of such lectures are typically recorded with a single camera, by non-professional photographers, under far from optimal conditions.  Moreover, many such lectures have already occurred and been recorded;  what we have archived is what we get.  In short, there are numerous shortcomings to such videos.  Yet, the value of some of these lectures are priceless.

In my talk we introduce some of the tools we developed at the University of Arizona for transforming low-tech recordings into high-tech distance learning materials. Our flagship project is the SLIC (Semantically Linked Instructional Content). Using clever algorithms, this project creates an efficient archiving of the lecture, enabling students to browse and find the materials they need when they need it. It modifies the video to improve readability and parses the significance of different portions of each frame of the video, which enables battery saving, dynamic tangence enhancement and compression without jeopardizing understandability.   Lecturer's gestures (by body language or laser pointer) and transcripts are analyzed to generate  dynamic content, thereby targeting students' attention and assisting bilingual students.