As part of our lecture capture trial we have encouraged a couple of academics to use Panopto to record student presentations. This is what happened.
The lecturer had an assessment on her module which involved the students giving a presentation about Youth Work. The students were allowed to do it live or submit a video of them doing their presentation. My suggestion was that we allowed the students to use Panopto and I sold the lecturer the idea that the students could use Panopto on campus or at home, could practice as many times as they liked before submitting and it would be easier for her to mark. I also supplied a technician to staff a room each Monday afternoon where students could go to make their recordings.
This was not a success because the students saw the purpose of the scheduled sessions as being to teach them how to use Panopto rather than to record presentations so the focus was on the technical instead of presenting. In the end no one recorded themselves ahead of the deadline with Panopto. One reason for this may have been that we introduced the students to Panopto before they had their presentations finished so no one really wanted to use Panopto at the time we introduced it.
An academic in Education Studies wanted 60 student presentations videoed. She had done this previously using a video camera and burning the video onto DVDs. The purpose of the recording was to send to external examiners, who quite often complained about the clunkiness of having to deal with DVDs, so Panopto seems to offer the solution. The students were divided into six groups with three groups presenting one week and three the following week. The presentations were watched by two members of staff each.
Because I did not have enough staff to make the Panopto recordings for the academics we decided to log onto Panopto with a generic department account so that we could set everything up in advance of the academics arriving in the rooms and so that we could set pre-sets on the account to minimise adjustments during the sessions (e.g. destination folder, what would be recorded etc.).
We also produced simple instructions so that the academics could operate Panopto. Basically all they had to do was:
- Open PowerPoint in presenting mode,
- ALT-Tab to cycle through to Panopto (always open)
- Name the recording with student’s username
- Press Record (we had the settings to Minimize Panopto when recording started)
- Do presentation
- Close PowerPoint
- ALT TAB to Panopto
- Press STOP
- Press the tab to return to the Create New Recording tab (from the Recording Status tab)
- Go to #1
We were very happy with how few operations were necessary due to pre-planning. The destination folder gave tutors and external examiners access and we planned to manually grant permissions to the students to view their own presentations. We rejected the idea of using Panopto drop boxes since that would slow down the process with students having to log on and off between presentations and of course all the settings would have to be reset since we could not set the pre-sets for all the students.
The results were good but there were a number of problems from which we can learn.
- The rooms were not near each other, so causing problems supporting the staff in them while the recording were being made.
- None of the rooms had pedestals or monitors for the presenter, so we had to use tripods and the webcams were consequently further away than ideal (we used the mics on the webcams)
- The bulbs in the projectors were not particularly strong which necessitated dimming the room lights. This caused lighting issues with the webcams. These were exacerbated because in all cases the video included the projection screen which, being very bright in the dimmed room, caused the presenter to be even darker.
- Although a driver had been installed for the webcam, the webcam controlling software had not been installed, meaning we could not zoom in.
- One tutor somehow did not record any presentations and another disliked the ‘faff’ between presentations of having to deal with the Panopto interface and name the recording.
- Although I thought we would make the recordings available to the students, it was decided this was not necessary.
So basically, the audio was too tinny and the video was too dark. Otherwise it was much easier to give the recordings to the external (no editing and no burning to DVD) and easier for them to access the recordings also (simply via a browser).
The changes we will make for next week are as follows:
- Use a separate mic.
- Keep the room lights on.
- Make one long recording and chop it up later so academics do not have to deal with the Panopto interface or name the recordings. (We have tested it and it is possible to start and stop different presentations within the same session.)