BIBS: A Lecture Webcasting System

Lawrence A. Rowe, Diane Harley, and Peter Pletcher
Berkeley Multimedia Research Center
University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720

Shannon Lawrence
Center for Studies in Higher Education
University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720

Executive Summary

The Berkeley Multimedia Research Center (BMRC) at the University of California, Berkeley developed and operates the BIBS lecture webcasting system and, in cooperation with other campus researchers and organizations, conducted a series of experiments that attempted to assess the impact and usefulness of this technology. This report describes the design and implementation of the BIBS lecture webcasting system and the results of various evaluations of the system.

The BIBS system offers live remote viewing and on-demand replay of course lectures using streaming audio and video over the Internet. During the Fall 2000 semester 14 classes were webcast, including several large lower division classes, with a total enrollment of over 4,000 students and small upper division and graduate engineering courses.

The original design principles of the BIBS system were 1) that the technology must adapt to the teaching style of the instructor, 2) that the lecture webcasts are not intended to replace attendance at live lectures, 3) that operating the system must be cost-effective, and 4) that the system must be easy to install and use.

Components of the system are described, including:


The cost of setting up and operating a system like BIBS is complex. The costs can be disaggregated into three components: 1) the streaming media, web, and database servers, 2) the audio/video equipment in classrooms, and 3) staff to maintain and operate the system. Each cost component is discussed in the following paragraphs.


Evaluations were conducted in Spring 2000 on student and faculty use of BIBS (e.g., student surveys, focus groups, usage statistics, and instructor interviews). A more in-depth evaluation of Chem 1A student and faculty use of BIBS was conducted in Fall 2000.

The primary use of the webcasts is to study for examinations. Students report they watch BIBS lectures because they did not understand material presented in lecture, because they wanted to review what the instructor said about selected topics, because they missed a lecture, and/or because they had difficulty understanding the speaker (e.g., non-native English speakers). We found that more than 50% of the students enrolled in some large classes view lectures and that as many as 75% of the lectures are played by members of the Berkeley community.

Results from these evaluations, in combination with other feedback received from students and faculty, suggest that lecture webcasting is a valuable service that enriches the UC Berkeley learning experience. Further study is required to accurately assess the pedagogical impact that lecture webcasts have on student learning.

Future Research and Development

Several directions for improving the BIBS system and further exploring the use of Internet technology in teaching and learning are discussed, including searchable text transcripts and support for the hearing impaired, authenticated access, distributed multimedia collaboration, extensions to the BMRC Lecture Browser, and campus commitment to audio/video infrastructure.


It is time to move the system to a permanently funded service organization on the campus. While the current system has limitations for remote synchronous distance learning, specifically the inability to ask remote questions and the absence of a sense of presence for remote participants (i.e., a reverse video channel), several options exist for providing these capabilities and they should be explored. Continued research and development is required both on BIBS and other teaching and learning technologies.

[ BIBS Report Web Page | Full Report ]

Send comments to larry "dot" rowe "at" gmail "dot" com.
Last updated June 10, 2001.