• Academic Technology

Capturing the AV experience

Classrooms and lecture theatres have undergone a radical makeover in the last few years. A typical lecture hall in the 1990s would have been equipped with an overhead projector and little else. Lecture Hall - Panopto Lecture Capture PlatformNow, AV professionals working at education institutions are having to kit out and maintain rooms with HD projectors, interactive whiteboards, document cameras and more. Increasingly digitally-savvy students expect dynamic media content to form a key part of their learning experience and assume that their institution will be able to provide this.

On top of these developments, the types of spaces that universities are using for teaching are changing. The lecture theatre is no longer necessarily the default space where students come to learn. With the proliferation of mobile devices, students are used to accessing knowledge resources anytime, anywhere. Even the most traditional and formal of learning environments – like the library – have transformed into spaces that facilitate collaboration and interactivity.

Capturing complex content

It is clear to see from this that the pace of change has been rapid, and now AV staff are faced with yet another challenge. With increasing expectations from students that they will have access to educational materials 24/7, many universities and colleges are recording lecture content to serve back to their learners on-demand.

This requires a lecture capture system that is robust and sophisticated enough to cope with the diverse recording set-ups that are now becoming commonplace, but also simple and flexible enough so that the capture process doesn’t become an additional burden on the AV team. Key considerations when choosing such a system include:

  • Ensuring that it fully integrates with the institution’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)
  • Assessing whether there is enough flexibility to capture many different types of content
  • Making sure that the recording and viewing processes are mobile-friendly

Integration matters

With greater complexity being injected into the classroom experience through the increasingly intricate set-ups springing up at many institutions, it’s important to keep some things simple.

At most institutions the VLE acts as the central repository for learning resources. It is critical, then, that any system being used to capture content works in sync with the VLE. This means that AV staff are able to focus on getting the recording right and not worry about where the recording will be stored or how it will be distributed. Crucially, for staff and students, it means that they are able to access the recorded content through a familiar interface. One of our users – Adam Read, Senior E-learning Technologist at the University of St Mark and St John – commented on the importance of our VLE integration by stating: “We’ve […] got a solution and workflow that allows an academic to simply walk into a lecture theatre, deliver their presentation as normal and students can then use the existing VLE interface to access a high-quality recording of that lecture within an hour of the session ending.”

Recording whatever, wherever

If your AV team has made a considerable investment in kitting out learning spaces with HD projectors, multiple cameras to film technical demonstrations, interactive whiteboards and more, you want to be able to capture all of these media sources effectively. As a software-based system, one of our strengths is that we remain ‘device agnostic’, giving institutions the ability to record what they want, how they want, with whatever equipment they’ve got. We’re also not tied to the lecture hall, so if a teacher wants to film a flipped classroom clip on the move, for instance, they can use our system quickly and easily. Conversely if they want to record multiple HD video streams and present these as part of one learning session, our software allows them to do this too. AV staff can be comfortable in the knowledge that we can support a wide range of set-ups, from the decidedly low-fi, right up to the highly sophisticated.

This article was originally published in Education Technology magazine.

If you’re interested in how Panopto can help you update your institution’s learning experience, request a demo or ask for a free trial.