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Educational Design and Engagement

Educational Design and Engagement

Enriching the student learning experience & supporting development of on campus and online courses.

Panopto: video, lecture capture and the student experience

On 14th November Imperial College London hosted a “Video, lecture capture and the student experience” event focusing on the use of Panopto for lecture capture. The talks took place in Imperial’s impressive great hall, and the historic rooms of 170 Queens Gate, with presenters including Tom Davy (CEO of Panopto), Professors Debra Humphries and Omar Matar from Imperial College, Lawrie Phipps (Jisc programme manager), and Eric Burns (Chief Technology Officer at Panopto), plus a panel of student representatives.

Visual minutes

Visual minutes by Creative Connection

The main thrust of Tom Davy’s presentation was that, amidst the reconceptualisation of modern education (he mentioned in particular work like Sugata Mitra’s ‘Self-Organised Learning Environment’), evidence shows that lectures remain valued in higher education by both students and universities. The push for ‘lecture capture’ is coming from students themselves. Modern lecture capture systems offer more than straight forward, linear capture; they offer the ability for students to become co-creators by bookmarking, favouriting and sharing lectures. Lecture capture can facilitate flipped classrooms, mobile access, and social sharing as well as blended modes of teaching. All these activities are recognised trends in the modern HE context.

Professors Humphries and Matar described the landscape at Imperial College following the introduction of Panopto for lecture capture in 2012. The demand came firmly from students and introduction of the system was seen as part of their “enhancing the student experience” strategy. The model for facilitating adoption of educational technologies was to develop an institutional strategic framework for digital education. The aim was not to enforce the use of technologies – there will always be some courses ahead, and some behind, the game – rather, the framework was envisaged as an enabler. Panopto has been set up to capture slides and audio, so there was no prerequisite to install video cameras in all lecture theaters (although, where appropriate, they are beginning to capture video as well). The system has scaled well across the college and feedback has been extremely positive from both staff and students. Students in particular report that it has become a valuable revision tool, and an additional boon to students for whom English is a second language as well as those with disabilities. For Imperial, lecture capture is here to stay; and not only that, they suggest that it should be considered a baseline – it should become the norm.

Lawrie Phipps’ talk was based on his work with students in the Changing Learning Landscape Programme, the Visitor and Resident project and the Jisc Digital Literacy Programme. He agreed that, based on his own findings, students certainly do report that they like the lecture format – they don’t want that unique experience taken away. However there is clear evidence that they would like it augmented by lecture capture. Indeed, from an educator point of view, a system like Panopto can provide useful feedback to teachers; if students are allowed to bookmark captured lectures, useful analytics about areas of lecture presentations where students have most difficulty can be identified. He asked two open questions relating to lecture capture: what is it students value about the capture; and what will be the impact of ‘everything everywhere’? This is where another strand of Jisc work becomes important: digital literacies for both staff and students. Institutions should ensure that all users are literate – able to manage and work effectively with – this new medium. Read more about Lawrie’s work at his blog.

Eric Burns discussed some of the history of lecture capture and the Panopto technology in particular. Coming from Carnegie Mellon University, the initial requirement was enhanced access to lectures for a university with dispersed campuses. There has since been a shift in emphasis to more innovative uses, such as flipped classroom. He reviewed several questionnaire-based studies that have been collected at universities who have adopted Panopto – focusing in particular on UK institutions (University of Newcastle and Aberystwyth). A clear majority of students at both institutions reported that they found lecture capture useful, using it in particular to revisit difficult concepts. The introduction of the system was not about cost cutting, but rather about enhancing the learning experience. Further, there is a suggestion that availability of lecture capture has an impact on course selection – with a move towards courses that provide the captured lecture service. In terms of institutional concerns over impact on lecture attendance, again a clear majority of students said that it had no effect on whether they would attend the actual lecture. Eric also hinted at an impact on student attainment, however the studies he drew from were very limited in scope and we should be wary, at this stage, of drawing any conclusions from this.

The afternoon sessions were broadly split into technical and educational strands. Steve Bailey from University of Kent reported on a study he had undertaken looking at the impact of lecture recording on attendance and performance. His findings on both have, so far, been inconclusive, but at the very least he has shown clearly that the adoption of lecture capture has done no harm in terms of either factor in his institution. Rebecca Avery and Debra Garretson from Panopto hosted a session on emerging use cases for Panopto, beyond lecture capture. These uses included:

  • flipped classroom;
  • live broadcasting (one to many);
  • virtual open days;
  • lecture overflow;
  • one-to-one access (feedback on coursework);
  • assessment submission (multimodal assignments);
  • student content creation.

One thing that occurred to me is that Panopto, as with many other learning technologies, can be stretched to support uses that it may not be intended for. An example here is the virtual open day – especially when it strays into a virtual classroom context. My understanding from the discussion is that Panopto’s support for synchronous interaction is quite limited. Moreover, as our institution has Blackboard Collaborate, there seems to be no reason to push the Panopto service ‘out of shape’ in that direction. And conversely, where Collaborate falls short in its ability to support high quality lecture capture, the Panopto service comes in to its own. Clearly there is a space for a range of services playing to their individual strengths. Panopto seems to be a strong contender for the creation of, and access to, asynchronous lecture-type video content.

Further resources

Lecture captures of all the morning sessions:

Note: you will see that the recording shows a video of the presenter and a video of the visual minutes from Creative Connections. If you want to view the slides as the presenter is talking, you can simply click on the slides tab above the main video display on the right hand side. You can also read a summary of the day on our blog and make comments to add your own reflections.


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