5 Criteria to Consider When Selecting a Lecture Capture System

Lecturer - Panopto Lecture Capture SystemWhen it comes to evaluating lecture capture technology for your school or university, the list of things to consider can be long. Often, separating the “must-have features” from the “nice-to-have features” falls on the shoulders of the institution’s learning technologists, who have to contend with a diverse group of stakeholders, including teachers, administrators, and IT departments — in addition to the students that will be relying on the system each and every day.

How do they decide which parts of a lecture capture system are most important?

At Panopto, we talk to customers and prospects from many types of learning institutions on a daily basis — from K-12 schools and colleges all the way up to multi-campus university consortia — about their lecture capture needs. From our conversations, here are 5 of their chief considerations when exploring different lecture capture options for their institutions.

How Compatible is it With the School’s Existing Technology?

For many universities, one of the most pressing considerations is whether a lecture capture system can make use of the classroom technology already in place. For example, is the lecture capture system compatible with the school’s LMS? And does the school’s existing A/V hardware work well with the new lecture capture solution, or is investment in additional equipment required?

The lecture capture system you choose should offer the widest compatibility with the learning technologies already in use at your institution. At a minimum, it should support your LMS for a seamless student experience, and it should be compatible with your existing A/V equipment – whether you’re planning to capture video with USB webcams, DV camcorders, or DVI/HDMI devices. Broad device compatibility helps minimize your initial capital expenses by not needing to purchase new hardware, and saves you from any future headaches caused by integrating new capture devices. The most flexible lecture capture systems not only support a wide range of cameras and microphones, but are also able to capture other video sources such as microscopes, whiteboards, and document cameras.

What Ways Can Online Lectures Be Delivered?

Whether a student chooses to use a Mac or PC, Android or iOS, mobile, tablet, or desktop — the best lecture capture systems offer the ability for students to access information on demand anytime and anywhere.

A lecture capture system must not only be able to automatically transcode videos into formats that can be viewed by any device, it must also be able to provide an optimal viewing experience regardless of the viewer’s available internet connection. Look for a lecture capture system that offers adaptive bitrate streaming, which detects a viewer’s network speed in real-time and adjusts the video quality accordingly.

Additionally, systems that offer the flexibility to live webcast can help your institution get the most value out of their lecture capture investment. At Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, professors are using Panopto’s webcasting functionality to live stream popular courses in order to fulfill student demand and ease crowding in packed lecture theaters.

Can Recordings be Scheduled in Advance?

The less time that teachers must spend fiddling with technology, the more time they have to engage with their students before, during and after class. To that end, lecture capture platforms that offer the ability to automate recordings enable your teachers to simply do what they do best: teach.

With automated recording from Panopto, your school’s AV team need only launch a web browser to remotely schedule recordings for recurring lectures or a single event. The recording will begin and end at a specified time, offering professors a “no touch” recording experience. When the lecture ends, the recording is automatically uploaded into the institution’s video portal, where it is transcoded and quickly made available for students to access on-demand.

What Types of Analytics Are Available?

Analytics from lecture capture systems come in two key forms, and applying the data from both are key in getting the most out of your media:

  • Administrative analytics. Practical information that learning technologists need in order to gauge system performance, including server health and network usage.
  • Learning analytics. Insights into viewing behavior that help professors create more personalized learning, such as audience engagement and viewing activity.

Administrative metrics such as the size of a video library, number of users, overall number of views, and server health are the bare minimum bar to overcome. However, more detailed learning analytics such as viewer drop-off rates and individual user engagement (e.g. who viewed a segment and when) can be particularly powerful in determining the specific concepts within lectures that students are having trouble with, and where additional help or resources may be needed.

Can the Platform’s Appearance Be Customized?

Don’t overlook the importance of functionality that makes it easy to tailor the look and feel of your video portal. It may sound trivial, but ensuring that your institution’s colors and identity are represented through the video portal can go a long way toward reinforcing your brand.

With Panopto, you can customize your video portal in less than 60 seconds by just uploading your logos and entering in your university’s primary color. Our system takes care of the rest, applying the colors across your Panopto site and automatically making adjustments to ensure that the text is clear and readable.

Interested in learning more about implementing lecture capture at your institution?
Contact our team today to request a demo or sign up for a free, 30-day trial.

Published: July 15, 2014

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