When it comes to choosing and comparing lecture capture technologies 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, we’ve summarized the 6 most common video platform features schools look at when comparing features of different lecture capture solutions.
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 AV hardware work well with the new lecture capture solution, or is an 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 AV 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.
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 on 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 its lecture capture investment. At Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, for example, 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.
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 remote scheduling 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.
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 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.
While you may not currently expect wide-scale usage of a lecture capture system at your school, chances are demand and adoption of the platform will grow over time. When that happens will your system be able to grow with you?
Nearly all of our customers experience growth in adoption rates once an easy-to-use system is made available. Additionally, faculty, administrators, learning technologists, and other campus influencers almost always find innovative use cases for their video systems beyond recording lectures — many of which will require a system that scales.
The Sauder School of Business, for example, wanted to offer professional presentation courses that required students to record themselves presenting. They needed a system that could record up to 400 student presentations in under a week. By deploying Panopto’s software-based video platform, they were able to set up several recording stations with just a laptop at which 400 student recordings were captured in just 48 hours.
Look for a lecture capture system that is software based and can be deployed to many computers or classrooms at once. Lecture capture systems also scale more easily when they integrate with your existing systems (or even systems you may one day use) — single sign-on (SSO) integration can make it much easier to add and manage permissions for new user groups on campus.
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.