Northern Essex Community College: Putting Personal Video Capture in Faculty (and Student!) Hands

While there’s a growing consensus that video is a powerful tool for education, not all faculty and staff are comfortable with sophisticated recording devices and editing platforms. Campus IT and AV teams do not have the time or resources to get involved every time a professor wants to record a video. How can schools make it easy for their staff and students to create the volume of video today’s education increasingly requires?

The Institution

Northern Essex Community College is a two-year community college spread across two campuses in northern Massachusetts. They offer around 70 associate degree and certificate programs, plus noncredit workforce development and community education classes on campus and at businesses and other sites throughout the Merrimack Valley, as well over 160 online courses. Program areas include nursing, computers, criminal justice, paralegal studies, deaf studies, and dozens of transfer programs for students looking to finish a four-year degree elsewhere. They serve an incredibly diverse population ranging from new high school graduates to professionals returning to school for additional training.

The Challenge

The faculty at Northern Essex Community College (NECC) were increasingly concerned about incoming students who needed an oral rather than textual presentation of material. “They would hit a wall of text and stop,” says Minh Le, Media Specialist. Students were more used to turning immediately to YouTube when they wanted to find the answer to a question. Faculty needed a way to create video content, and lots of it, to meet their students where they were. NECC already had Kaltura’s video tools integrated with their Blackboard system, so supporting video was easy enough. But while some faculty were comfortable creating video on their own, many were not as technically advanced. They knew that video was an important part of teaching, but because creating video was so complicated and time consuming, the Media team had difficulty getting faculty to incorporate video into their courses. Browser-based tools especially presented a number of problems, with a tendency to fail in ways users found confusing. As a result, even when the Center of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning team could convince professors to use the tools, they spent a lot of time trouble-shooting, to the mutual frustration of all involved.

The Solution

Kaltura CaptureSpace removed that barrier. The desktop-based personal media capture application was much easier to use than previous browser-based tools. When the team introduced CaptureSpace, they got an overwhelmingly positive reaction from faculty of all different technical skill levels. “It was very easy to pick up. The learning curve wasn’t as steep,” says Le. “Even faculty who are not really comfortable using media on a computer did not find it challenging.” To introduce the tool, team members always did an initial face-to-face coaching session with the faculty member. If the person was interested, they then helped them install it on their own desktop, giving each faculty member the ability to make videos on their own with little to no further support.

"Faculty didn’t want to be constantly depending on us to be doing things. The nice thing about Kaltura CaptureSpace is that once it’s installed on their computer, faculty can just go ahead and create video on their own. They liked that flexibility."
Minh Le, Media Specialist, Center of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning

The Results

Usage Stats
  • NECC current offerings:
    Over 160 online courses Over 80 hybrid courses Over 200 web-enhanced courses
  • In the past 12 months:
    At least 29% of eligible users have tried CapturesSpace

The initial enthusiasm level was high. “We’ve definitely seen an increase in usage since we started using CaptureSpace in the last year,” says Le. Right now, NECC is not doing any live lecture capture, so having a desktop-based tool that faculty can use to pre-record segments for online learning and for supplemental material is ideal. Different departments, though, are using it in dramatically different ways. Some examples:

  • Health sciences uses a lot of PowerPoint in their lectures; the ability to record segments that sync directly to each slide and can be navigated and searched by slide text has been invaluable.
  • Liberal arts faculty tend to prefer a combination of webcam and screencasting. The nursing program is particularly good about sharing resources, creating a pool of video segments that can be used by the entire department to reference in each of their courses.
  • The nursing program is particularly good about sharing resources, creating a pool of video segments that can be used by the entire department to reference in each of their courses.

  • It’s not just for staff. Faculty in public speaking classes are recommending that students use CaptureSpace to record their speeches.
  • Similarly, one faculty member likes to use CaptureSpace with ESL students, to help them practice their oral skills


As the program continues to move forward, Le says that his department is continuing to do more follow ups and check-ins, to see if users have questions or additional needs to be met. They are looking at pushing adoption at the department level, not just the individual level. “CaptureSpace is good for faculty who are interested in using video but don’t have a lot of technical skills,” says Le. “It’s been a success.”