• Academic Technology

At the University of Waikato, Everybody’s a Videographer

Since June 2009, faculty members, staff and students at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand, have been capturing lectures with Panopto. The initial feedback received from faculty and staff was overwhelmingly positive. What began as a pilot in a few departments soon spread across campus, and generated a university-wide adoption of Panopto.

Now across Waikato’s campus, ”everybody’s a videographer,” according to the head of the university’s eLearning Centre, Nigel Robertson. He says professors are pleased at the ease with which they can record lessons at the front of a classroom or at their desks with the simple click of a “big red button.” In class, Panopto’s open architecture makes it possible to record lectures using Waikato’s existing security camera system. And in their offices, professors can use Panopto to record lectures with a webcam with their Windows or Mac laptops. The automatic synchronization of video, slides, and screen capture has allowed faculty members to create professional-looking recordings on their own, without expensive and time-consuming post-production.


Breaking down barriers to higher education

As Panopto usage by faculty and students spread, the university discovered that it could also play a critical role in extending a college education to people who wouldn’t otherwise have access.

University leadership knew that economic and life factors
such as fulltime work, raising a family, or living outside of commuting distance could prevent some students from pursuing a degree. The University of Waikato began using Panopto to bridge this distance learning gap for students.

“The demographic profile of our students is broadening. An important factor for equity is the flexibility that recordings enable.”
— Nigel Robertson, Head of the Waikato eLearning Centre

Using Panopto, students can watch recorded lectures from anywhere at a time most convenient to them. Students also use Panopto’s video search engine to find specific words or phrases covered in the lecture – either in the professor’s slides, or in transcribed audio – and jump straight to that point in the recording. This way, they’re able to review and better grasp specific concepts without the need to watch the entire lecture again from start to finish.

For Waikato’s eLearning and on-campus programs, recorded lectures with Panopto have broken down barriers to participation, increased student learning opportunities, and greatly improved the overall academic experience.

Lecture capture 2.0: elevator pitches, live performances, and more

From 2009 to 2011, the average time spent viewing Panopto lectures jumped from 19 hours per week to more than 4,700 hours per week. Although these stats show that students, staff and faculty have found tremendous value in recorded lectures, use of the technology hasn’t stopped there. Panopto has other applications, such as serving as a webcasting and management tool for the university in some very innovative and exciting ways:

  • Future management graduates are using Panopto to record and hone their business pitches – reviewing their recordings immediately after presenting and making adjustments on the fly.
  • Ensembles are broadcasting their performances live over the web to parents and music enthusiasts across New Zealand and around the world.
  • An English as a second language (ESOL) team is using Panopto to display the shape of a mouth pronouncing English words, offering more in-depth instruction for those learning a new language.
  • A professor in the university’s engineering program has experimented with Panopto’s unique multi-stream video, recording complex demonstrations from multiple camera angles while simultaneously capturing his handwriting via digital whiteboard.

Robertson also reports that some faculty members have begun to explore the use of video and desktop recording for student feedback on their assignments. “The recording allows for more detail and personalization than is possible with traditional margin notes. As a student’s essay is shown on the screen, the instructor can work through it, highlighting sections while speaking to its structure and content,” Robertson said.

“It’s yet another innovative use for Panopto at the university. It’s a great tool for both our students and our faculty – one that fosters an interactive learning environment, and encourages self-discovery and continuous improvement.”