After comparing Kaltura, Seminole State chooses Panopto

Why Seminole State selected the Panopto video platform to integrate with Canvas and serve it’s 30,000 students.

With four campuses based within Seminole County, Florida, Seminole State College serves over 30,000 students, full-time and part-time, is the eighth-largest member institution of the Florida College System.

Over the past decade, the eLearning team at Seminole State watched as video organically grew to become a regular part of students’ learning experiences at the school. Yet as different instructors and departments adopted the technology, a lack of standardization quickly began to create a number of new challenges when it came to recording, streaming, and sharing video across campus.

The school had tried and tested a range of point solutions for video production and streaming, including tools from Adobe and Camtasia, but no single solution met every need. Storage, editing, sharing and analytics, in particular, had all proven to be difficult issues.

Hoping to better serve the needs of several hundred faculty and more than 30,000 students, Seminole State began a search for a single video platform that could do it all. After an extensive search and review of several products, the school selected Panopto. Today, Seminole State relies on Panopto for everything video, including:

  • Live streaming lectures and events
  • Flexible recording, both in and out of the classroom, for flipped classrooms, student presentations, faculty training, and more
  • Centralized video storage
  • Efficient streaming across the university network
  • Simple integration with the school’s learning management system

Wanted: A single solution to all the challenges of academic video

As the eLearning team began researching complete video platforms, they quickly narrowed down the set of candidate solutions to Kaltura and Panopto. Free trials were set up with both solution providers.

“With Kaltura, we needed a number of workarounds to enable some of the features to work as we wanted them to,” reported Michael McCurdy, Instructional Technology Specialist at Seminole State College. “When we tried Panopto, everything just clicked.”

The Big Win: Live streaming a memorable event for the Music Department

click-to-play-seminole-state-symphony-thinkpad-purefrontThe Seminole State College Music Department is one of the school’s best connections to its community, and an important part of how the college interacts with students, alums, donors, and others. To build upon that connection, the department set a goal: to live stream every concert it held so that anyone could watch.

Panopto was a natural choice for the task. With Panopto, anyone can live stream video presentations right from their Windows or Mac laptop simply by selecting a single checkbox. Live video is streamed efficiently over the internet for optimal playback, and can be shared securely with a restricted set of viewers, or broadcast publicly to an audience of tens of thousands. Although Seminole State was still only testing Panopto and had only limited experience with the platform, the first live concert was streamed without any difficulties. Instead, the event would be memorable for a different reason.

A few days prior to the concert, a performance by the Symphonic Community Band, a longtime member of the band passed away. During the show, the department dedicated the new Jack Longfellow Memorial Band Scholarship in honor of Longfellow’s several decades of involvement.

Among the many members of the community touched by the announcement were members of the Longfellow family who hadn’t been able to attend in person, but who had been able to watch the live stream. Moved by the tribute, the family shared their gratitude with the department:

“Words seem inadequate to express our thanks and joy with the announcement and the concert tonight. We watched the livestream as a family and cried the whole way through the scholarship announcement. We’re so happy that this tribute will keep his love of the band going for students.”

Demand for Panopto grows on campus

With the enthusiasm following the success of the Music Department’s webcast, the university soon found demand for Panopto growing all across campus. For Seminole State, Panopto’s value was not only in what it could record, but how easy the platform made video all around. That started with Panopto’s Remote Recorder feature, which enables administrators to schedule recordings in advance, online.

“From the beginning, we fell in love with the Remote Recorder,” said McCurdy. “It really reduced the workload for the media services department. We just program in the classes, and the rooms turn on and off automatically. We don’t have to worry about anything. Panopto handles recording, streaming, uploading for us, automatically.”

Likewise, Panopto’s integration with the school’s learning management system, Canvas, made it easy for instructors and students to share and watch the recordings.

“Before Panopto, faculty had to manually upload videos into Canvas,” reported McCurdy. “That created a lot of bottlenecks. Instructors weren’t always sure how to do it, and depending on how the files were formatted, students weren’t always able to get the videos to play.”

“Integrating Panopto with Canvas almost makes the technology transparent,” McCurdy continued. “Now students can just click a link or download a video podcast to watch later, and no matter where they are or what device they’re on, the video just works.”

Mostly, the university just valued Panopto’s flexible approach to video management.

“Our professors all had different needs when it came to video, and Panopto gave us an answer for all of them,” reported McCurdy. “Now if they want they can edit recordings, schedule when videos will and won’t be available to students, and even record other materials like lab demonstrations or flipped classroom lectures.”

“What’s nice for us,” continued McCurdy, “is that Panopto’s pricing is structured on viewing hours, not physical storage. Being able to tell faculty they can go ahead record their lectures and not worry about space constraints is awesome for a college like ours.”

In the Classroom — and Beyond: Three examples of how Seminole State is using Panopto today

With Panopto now rolled out across campus, video is supporting learning experiences almost everywhere at Seminole State.

In the classroom, Chemistry Professor Deborah Mead had long been a champion for video at Seminole State. An early adopter of the flipped classroom model, today Professor Mead relies on Panopto to simultaneously capture multiple video feeds, enabling her to include whiteboard drawings, lab experiments, traditional slides, and more in her pre-class videos.

Not only does Panopto easily support Professor Mead’s complex recordings, it also provides her with useful new insights for her classroom.

“Panopto’s analytics really help faculty see student engagement in a new way,” said McCurdy. “By tracking which parts of which videos students are watching, instructors can get a sense for which topics are more challenging for the class.”

Outside the classroom, too, Seminole State has found more use for Panopto.

The Seminole State School of Public Safety’s Emergency Medical Services program had been looking for a way to overcome the inherent difficulties of providing EMS education to full-time first responders. Unfortunately, the round-the-clock shifts required of first responders meant that there was never a time at which every student on the crew would be available to attend classes simultaneously.

In Panopto, the EMS faculty finally found an answer to that challenge, creating what they coined a “Shift-Friendly” class. Faculty could hold a class and use Panopto to stream it live for those who couldn’t attend in person, as well as make a recording available for anyone to watch on demand. There was no need to schedule multiple repeated class sessions — with Panopto, they could just make the original lesson available on-demand.

Now the EMS students and faculty go even further. “The department wanted to ensure its students could participate in real-time on debriefings of their training simulations,” recalled McCurdy. “We have simulation rooms where we can practice the proper response to a variety of crises, and now we can record those simulation training exercises. With Panopto, students can watch their performances, identify strengths and weaknesses, and even take notes on points for improvement.”

Today Panopto helps Seminole State extend lessons beyond the campus, to anywhere its students are.

As the school sought to increase online course offerings, it began looking for ideas to help facilitate a truly effective online speaking and presentation skills class.

With the Panopto native mobile apps for iOS and Android, as well as Panopto’s personal assignment folder feature, the eLearning Department at Seminole State was able to assist Speech faculty in designing a course that provided students online with the same level of academic rigor and audience engagement as their on-campus counterparts.

Distant learners now simply use their own personal mobile device and the Panopto mobile app to record themselves delivering a presentations to their audience, with the audience in view of the mobile device. Once completed, the recordings are then automatically uploaded to the student’s designated assignment folder, where it can be reviewed on-demand by instructors for grading and additional feedback.

Already the results of the new class have been excellent, giving online students a learning experience much closer to that of their peers on campus, and helping everyone hone the speaking and presentations skills that are so important to professional success.

Enhancing the Learning Experience at Seminole State: Looking to the future with video

Seminole State had been using video to solve learning challenges here and there for years. But when the college adopted a more comprehensive video platform, the true potential value of video became clear.

Today the school is proud to provide its students with a modern learning experience — one with more flexible instruction, more visual classroom examples, and more valuable study resources.

Published: April 18, 2017