Panopto and Echo360 both provide universities with solutions to record lectures and flipped classroom videos, live stream classes and events, and manage video content. However, there are a number of important differences in the deployment, usability, and maintenance of these products. So as you evaluate Panopto and Echo360 for use within your institution, consider the 15 questions below.

 

15 Questions to Consider as You Compare Panopto and Echo360

 

1. Do you intend to integrate your video platform with your learning management system (LMS)?

Panopto includes custom-built integrations with Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle, D2L, and Sakai. These integrations go beyond basic single sign-on (SSO) to provide additional capabilities that save administrators significant time and effort in maintaining their video platform. For example:

  • Rolling synchronization automatically updates Panopto permissions based on LMS updates, so that as students add and drop courses during the semester, these changes are automatically reflected in Panopto.
  • Access synchronization enables students to easily access videos from all of their courses when signed into Panopto, rather than being limited to videos for individual courses.
  • Batch provisioning enables administrators to automatically create course folders in Panopto and set up instructors and students with appropriate permissions.
  • Two-way SSO enables faculty and students to directly sign in to Panopto’s video library, client apps, and mobile apps using their LMS credentials.

By contrast, Echo360 supports LMS integration through LTI, a standard that doesn’t support the aforementioned capabilities.

 

2. How important is ease of use for your students, faculty, and administrators?

Panopto was developed at Carnegie Mellon University to dramatically simplify video curation and management for academic institutions. Since our founding in 2007, we’ve maintained a laser-like focus on the usability of our platform. We provide a unified, intuitive app for recording lectures, capturing flipped classroom videos, recording student assignments, and live streaming campus events at scale. The Panopto app captures and automatically synchronizes all lecture materials, including instructor video, screen content, slide decks, and peripheral video sources such as document cameras. And when live streaming events, Panopto doesn’t require administrators to reconfigure their firewall. By contrast:

  • Echo360 provides three different solutions for recording—an appliance-based solution using the Echo360 Pro or Pod, a classroom capture solution, and a personal capture solution. This approach increases complexity for both administrators and faculty.
  • Lecture slides need to be manually uploaded to the Active Learning Platform, and during playback, the slides aren’t synchronized with instructor video. This result in an unintuitive curation process for faculty and a confusing playback experience for students.
  • Live streaming with Echo360 requires administrators to reconfigure their firewall, opening additional ports to allow for the transmission of Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP).

“Last summer, we transitioned from Echo360 and Kaltura to Panopto. Since the move, Panopto has received rave reviews from administrators and faculty, and the support we’ve received from Panopto has been second to none.”

Leading Ivy League University

3. Has the vendor received industry recognition for its innovation in video capture and content management?

Every industry research and advisory firm that covers video content management has recognized Panopto as a leader in its industry. Gartner has named Panopto a Leader in its Magic Quadrant for Video Content Management for three years running. Aragon Research recently named Panopto a Leader in its Globe for Video Management report. In the 2018 Wainhouse Research video learning report, Panopto was recognized as a Champion, scoring higher than all other vendors in its space. And Forrester has recognized Panopto for having the best support for video search.

In addition, Panopto has received numerous accolades for its growth, influence, and innovation. In 2017, Fast Company named Panopto one of the world’s 10 most innovative companies in education, joining the ranks of Google, Khan Academy, LinkedIn, MIT, and Twitter. Deloitte named Panopto one of the fastest growing technology companies in North America three times. And Streaming Media Magazine has recognized Panopto as one of the 100 companies that matter most in online video three years in a row.

 

4. Do you expect to increase your use of video in the coming years?

If you only plan to record video in a handful of lecture halls, then either Panopto or Echo360 will scale to meet your needs. However, if you plan to deploy a video platform across your department or campus-wide, you’ll find Panopto to be more scalable with a lower total cost of ownership (TCO).

The reason is that Panopto is software as a service (SaaS) and doesn’t require the deployment of specialized recording appliances in each classroom. All of Panopto’s video capture functionality, including multi-camera and multi-screen recording, distributed video capture, and live streaming, are all available in an enterprise-grade app that runs on Windows PCs and Macs. As a result, Panopto can be deployed to all of your existing classrooms, and if desired, every faculty member’s laptop, at the flick of a switch. As Graham Robinson at the University of Southampton writes in a blog post:

“We were able to switch on lecture capture to all 160 centrally bookable lecture spaces and make it available on every member of staff’s PC (thousands). No staff visits, no complicated permissions, just the ability to capture everywhere overnight.”

With Echo360, scaling department- or campus-wide involves tradeoffs. The company’s Classroom Capture software doesn’t run on Macs, has limited live streaming capabilities, and has reported stability issues when capturing two feeds of HD video (e.g. an instructor and their screen). The alternative is a specialized appliance—either the Echo360 Pro or Pod—that requires you to invest additional capex for every classroom and then maintain the specialized devices, which can never be repurposed.

 

5. Are you interested in deploying your video platform on-premises or in a private cloud?

Panopto supports multiple deployment models, including multi-tenant cloud, private cloud, and on-premises. We also provide seamless migration programs, enabling institutions to move from on-premises to the cloud and vice versa based on their unique requirements. By contrast, Echo360 only supports multi-tenant cloud hosting.

 

“We were motivated to move to a single lecture capture software solution and have it hosted in the cloud. The university had both Echo360 and Panopto as on-prem capture options. Based on our evaluation criteria and their content migration program, Panopto emerged as the clear choice.”

Chuck Lenosky, IT Solutions Architect for Creighton University Learning Environments.

6. Do you intend to live stream lectures, guest speaker presentations, or campus events?

If so, it’s important to understand the significant differences in webcasting capabilities between Panopto and Echo360. With Panopto, you use the same app to live stream as you do to record on-demand videos. In fact, adding live streaming to any recording is as easy as clicking one checkbox in the Panopto interface. And because the Panopto app runs on PCs and Macs, it’s easy to set up a live webcast anywhere on campus, at home, or in the field.

By contrast, Echo360 only recommends live streaming from its Pro and Pod appliances. Although live streaming from the company’s Classroom Capture app is technically possible, it comes with a number of important limitations. These include:

  • No support for live streaming over wireless networks
  • Official Support for only two webcams, one document camera, and three microphones
  • No support for ad hoc webcasts (all live events must be scheduled in advance)
  • No support for live streaming from Macs
  • The need to reconfigure firewall software on the Windows PC

Here are several other limitations of Echo360’s live streaming capability:

  • Live events require the Flash add-on to play in web browsers. As of April 2018, only 5% of websites on the Internet still use Flash, and leading web browsers like Chrome have removed support for Flash.
  • Live events can’t be streamed to Android devices. Note that Android maintains between 80 and 85 percent of smartphone market share worldwide.
  • Echo360 doesn’t develop its live streaming feature. Instead, it white-labels a third-party streaming server called Wowza. This limits the company’s ability to innovate in live video and can require customer support tickets to be routed to a third party for investigation and resolution.
  • Live events don’t support DVR-like functionality including the ability to rewind, pause, and fast-forward.
  • Live events can’t support more than 2 simultaneous video feeds, which can be limiting for large guest lectures and campus events.
  • Echo360 doesn’t allow university IT departments to use their existing live video encoding infrastructure. Specifically, universities with existing RTMP encoders can’t connect these to the Echo360 cloud.
  • Students can’t take time-stamped notes during Echo360 live events.

 

7. Have you considered the benefits of integrating your video platform with your web conferencing solution?

In the last two years, one of the fastest growing use cases for Panopto in education is integration with online meeting and webinar software like Zoom, BlueJeans, Skype, and GoToMeeting. Many universities already use these web conferencing tools for distance education, collaborative student learning, virtual office hours, research collaboration, and more. However, the tools weren’t built to easily manage and share on-demand recordings of the online meetings.

In response to this demand, Panopto has built custom integrations with these web conferencing tools, enabling recordings to be automatically imported to Panopto, converted for playback on any device, and indexed for search. Once imported, the recordings can be easily shared through the institution’s LMS or any other web portal.

By contrast, Echo360 doesn’t offer integrations with web conferencing solutions.

“When it comes to product capabilities in the lecture capture market, Panopto has overtaken Echo360 with a steady stream of incremental releases the past few years.”

Wainhouse Research

8. How much logistical work is involved in setting up lecture capture in each classroom?

In many courses, recorded lectures include two components — the screen content of the podium PC and a video of the lecturer (typically recorded from the back of the class). With Echo360, you either have to record these two video feeds separately and manually splice them together, or you have to run cable to connect the video camera and the podium PC to an Echo360 capture device. With Panopto, there’s no need to run any cable or manually splice together separate video feeds. Simply record your video from the back of the class, your screen content from the podium PC, and Panopto will automatically combine and sync the two video feeds into a single viewing experience.

Easily record and sync screen content from the front of the room and video from the back using Panopto.

 

9. Do you envision recording lectures that consist of more than two video inputs?

In many live lectures, instructors use more than one peripheral device. This could include their computer screen, a document camera, a blackboard or whiteboard, and at times, specialized devices like microscopes. In these scenarios, a lecture capture system needs the ability to capture the instructor and all of their peripheral devices so as not to subvert the instructor’s pedagogy.

Panopto supports the capture of up to four synchronized video feeds on each PC or Mac. This ensures that students watching online get a high-fidelity reproduction of the live lecture experience, showing the instructor and all of their supporting devices. By contrast, Echo360 only supports the capture of two video feeds.

 

This multi-camera flipped classroom lab demo includes video of the lecturer, an additional camera showing a profile of the microscope, and a third camera looking into the microscope lens.
 

10. How important is customer support as you evaluate video platforms for your institution?

For four years-running, Panopto has earned a 99% customer satisfaction rating — the highest among video platform vendors. This satisfaction rating is driven by our proactive technical support team, our responsiveness when issues arise, and the ongoing two-way dialog with our clients that is reflected in our product roadmap. Panopto also provides every university with a dedicated customer success advocate (CSA), whose job is to help ensure the successful rollout and adoption of video at your institution.

 

“There are so many products out there that promise great capture, but no other solution delivers support and management like Panopto.”

Jimmy Lieu, Director of the Wharton School’s Information Technology and Services department

11. How important will it be for your faculty, staff, and students to edit videos?

Both Panopto and Echo360 provide web-based video editing tools. However, there are significant differences in the tools’ capabilities. First, Panopto’s editor enables you to upload audio or video files and then synchronize them with PowerPoint or Keynote slides. Second, Panopto enables you to splice together multiple videos. Third, Panopto supports the editing of presentations and lectures that consist of multiple video feeds (e.g. a video camera, a laptop screen, a document camera, and a digital whiteboard). As part of this, faculty and staff can perform video switching within the editor, which eliminates the need for students to manually select video feeds during playback. Fourth, Panopto’s editor enables you to curate and embed additional content into your lectures, including YouTube videos and live web pages. Finally, Panopto enables you to embed quizzes directly into your lecture videos, so that during playback, the quizzes will automatically launch at the specified time. This differs from Echo360’s approach to quizzing, which requires instructors to embed quizzes into PowerPoint files that are stored separately from the lecture video.

12. How important will it be for your students, faculty, and staff to search your videos?

Especially during exams, students rely on lecture recordings and other classroom videos to revisit specific topics and reinforce key points. Both Panopto and Echo360 enable users to search across a video library to find a video, and both enable users to search select content inside videos. There are, however, significant differences in the completeness of the search capabilities included in each system.

Panopto indexes the content inside your videos in five ways. First, by automatically indexing text shown on slides or on-screen using Optical Character Recognition (OCR). Second, by automatically indexing spoken words using Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR). Third, by ingesting slide text from PowerPoint and Keynote. Fourth, by enabling manual metadata entry, including traditional fields like title and description, as well as other user-generated content like digital notes added into each recording. And fifth, by indexing any available video captioning transcripts included with the recording. Viewers can search for recordings in Panopto from the Panopto library, inside the full Panopto interactive player, from their mobile devices, or directly from within the LMS. Forrester Research has recognized Panopto for having the best support for video search. By contrast:

  • Echo360 does not offer optical character recognition (OCR), and only offers support for automatic speech recognition (ASR) as an add-on component with an additional cost.
  • Echo360’s support for slide ingestion is limited to slides that are manually uploaded into the ALP, not slides used in screen recordings or uploaded from the Echo360 PowerPoint plugin.
  • And searches on Echo360 must be made in the ALP, and cannot be performed directly from the LMS or from a mobile device.

Searching Videos in Panopto vs. Echo360

Search videos for any word spoken or shown on-screen, and get direct links to fast-forward to relevant moments.

 

13. How important will it be for your faculty and staff to manage and curate your videos?

Instructors often wish to closely control the availability of their classroom materials. Panopto enables administrators and content creators to set up workflows and require approvals before content will be made available for viewing. Administrators and creators can also easily set availability windows for recordings, ensuring viewers will not be allowed to watch a video prior to or after a specified date. Instructors can also curate ordered playlists of videos, drawing both from their own recordings and any other 1st- or 3rd-party materials made available to that instructor elsewhere in the Panopto video library. Playlists can then be shared with students either directly in the Panopto library, in the LMS, or embedded in another web page.

 

14. How important is the video viewing experience for your students, faculty, and administrators?

When videos are choppy, grainy, or buffer excessively during playback, viewers can quickly become frustrated. Panopto offers supports exceptional video clarity, with HD streaming at up to 1080p at 60 frames per second. And because video playback quality is dependent on the strength of the network it is delivered over, Panopto provides built-in support for WAN optimization infrastructure, as well as the ability to work with popular multicast streaming and P2P streaming providers. Further, every video uploaded to the Panopto library is encoded to support adaptive bitrate streaming in order to reduce network bandwidth and buffering in real time during playback.

 

15. How easily does the video platform support active learning in and outside the classroom?

In the last three years, Echo360 has invested heavily in “active learning” marketing efforts. At the core of the company’s active learning campaigns is a reporting tool that associates student engagement (as defined by video views, presentation views, Q&A, notes, and other activities) with grades from Echo360 quizzes. While the tool has lofty goals, it’s rarely used by most faculty due to its complexity, the time required to effectively use it, and the fact that it requires instructors to change their pedagogy.

Panopto has taken a different approach. We believe that technology should support each instructor’s approach to teaching rather than undermine it, and that real learning outcomes are achieved when students engage inside and outside of the classroom. So our approach to active learning is to keep it simple:

  • Make it easy for instructors to record flipped classroom videos that free up lecture time for students to engage in discussion and activities.
  • Make it easy for students to record individual and group video assignments, and for faculty to provide video-based feedback.
  • Make it easy for faculty to embed quizzes into lecture and flipped classroom videos, and to integrate those quiz results with your existing course repository—your LMS.

Below, you’ll find a few case studies showing how Panopto fosters active learning. Click the links to learn more.

 

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