Where are we and what’s next? (Panopto trial)

Although Christmas does not mark the end of a semester, it feels like semester one is drawing to an end and although our trial of the Panopto lecture capture system is to run for the whole academic year, I will need to report on progress at the end of this semester as that is when strategic planning decisions are made for the following academic year.

So how has it gone and what have we done so far?


  • The hosted Panopto service has been excellent and has never failed during the trial period.
  • Panopto’s support has been excellent.
  • Integration with Moodle works fine (we need to upgrade our addon)
  • Moodle dropbox works fine in tests (so we could use it for assessment purposes)
  • Our test of external captioning was positive
  • We have tested various webcams and mics and know now more than we did before
  • some academic staff think it is much easier to use than other technologies they have previously used to put their voices to PowerPoints
  • Generally staff think it is painless (if a technician sets it up for them)
  • We like the features of the player (e.g. search, notes, comments, captions, bookmarks and the way elements can be resized)


  • Some of our teaching room and tutor’s PCs need upgrading
  • Furniture/layout in some teaching rooms is not conducive to lecture capture
  • Our network speed might be questionable (we are looking into this issue)
  • Some academic staff are technically challenged by the technology
  • The quality of some recordings was poor (due to position of webcam and mic or the choice of mic used)
  • Some academic staff who have been recorded  do not see the recordings as learning materials which should be designed, reviewed, promoted and monitored.
  • Some academic staff are suspicious and/or fearful of the technology
  • User info brought into Panopto from Moodle isn’t complete (but we are aware of a fix for this)
  • The panopto editor is quite basic (though good enough for basic edits – but cannot separate audio stream and edit that).
  • We failed to overcome internal technical issues that stop us live streaming (we will revisit this in semester 2)

Types of recordings we have made

  • traditional lectures (video and PP and audio only and PP)
  • ‘staged’ lectures (to empty rooms as though an audience was present)
  • talks at all staff meetings (by internal and external speakers)
  • research seminars by staff to staff
  • talks by visiting academics
  • narrated PowerPoints form tutors’ desks
  • lectures with an intended audience off campus (to partner institutions)
  • staff and students reporting back on projects completed
  • discussion (staff and students round table)
  • screencasting (demonstrations)
  • induction talks (to avoid repetition)
  • talking head videos (staff to students)
  • recording lecturers for single student (student was hospitalised)
  • recording information session (because some students were on placement abroad)
  • online workshop (Student Support)
  • student presentations (assessed  – so external examiners can view)
  • manually synchronised video and PowerPoint that were uploaded separately
  • we have also uploaded video created elsewhere

What have we not done

  • used it for student assessment where students submit video
  • set up automatic scheduling (we intend to do this in semester two)
  • set up permanent fixed cams and mics in teaching rooms (this is planned in five teaching rooms)
  • used two video inputs in a single recording
  • used a web cam and an ipad in the same recording
  • professional departments have not used it (e.g. Registry, Quality, Estates etc)
  • marketing have not used it (Open Days?)
  • upgraded the Moodle plugin to 4.7  (this is planned)
  • made any recordings available for download or as podcasts
  • created audio and video podcasts (which would enable downloading and offline viewing)
  • made the most of having a media server (e.g. we could put onto it our ERA recordings if we had time to fulfil licencing requirements regarding prefacing recording with details of licence)
  • made live broadcasts (technical difficulties to overcome)


  • we have not yet analysed viewing stats (but plan to at the end of semester)
  • we have some online feedback from tutors who have used it, but after Christmas we intend to interview all staff who were recorded
  • we have sought feedback from students at partner institutions who used it
  • we have not collected feedback yet (but will do so after Christmas) from on campus students

My initial thoughts

  • I see lecture capture as a ‘must have’ utility (like wifi). The decision as to how widely (physically) to deploy it and how much to record probably lies with Leaning & Teaching Committee as much as with those who control the purse strings.
  • Academic staff who have not used it and who have not realised time saving benefits, seek pedagogical justifications for using lecture capture.  The recent conference at Loughborough showed that many universities, even after trialling it for years, are looking for such evidence (though in other places in the world lecture capture is simply the norm, with or without justification.)
  • To enable recording in any teaching room on campus will involve expenditure on hardware and estate.
  • Academic staff do not want to plug in microphones and cameras; they just want to press a record button.
  • If I were a student, I would be looking for this service when choosing a university, just as I would be looking for full wifi coverage.

Next steps

  • Collect feedback from academics and students.
  • Analyse usage (viewing)
  • Set up five teaching rooms as Panopto ready rooms
  • Discuss use with non-academic departments
  • Collect evidence from academic studies re benefit or otherwise of lecture capture
  • install latest Moodle plugin
  • investigate issues that stop us live streaming
  • liaise with IT Services on IT Strategy

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Ros Walker

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