At John Leggott College, we’re really focused on improving the learning experience for our students. This means, of course, that a key part of my role as Technology for Learning Manager is helping our teachers find out what really engages learners and encourages them to get the best possible results. I’m always on the lookout for technologies that can help our teachers hone their education materials or connect with our digitally-savvy students in new ways. I started looking at video technologies for teaching and learning last year and we decided to start using Panopto for lesson capture – mainly so that teachers could watch their lessons back for self-reflection purposes. Lots of colleges are now starting to realise that recording lessons for staff training and development is a great way to identify both the things that work well and the areas that need improvement.
The seemingly obvious way to do this is have a camera pointed at the teacher so they can see how they come across and assess both positives and negatives in their presentation style. But at John Leggott we’ve decided to flip that logic and film the students during the course of a lesson instead! After all, it’s their learning experience that we’re really interested in. As such, it’s very important to us to record how students are reacting to the lesson at every point. This helps us to gauge which topics or classroom activities spark inspiration and engagement and the reverse – which parts provoke boredom or confusion. This allows teachers to reverse-engineer their content from a students’ perspective.
We encourage all our teachers to watch their lessons back for self-improvement and we also suggest that they share the videos with their coach – another member of staff who pairs with them to help develop their teaching style. While we would never insist on a teacher sharing their lesson, getting a second viewpoint on how a lesson has gone can be very valuable – especially for new teachers. We start from the basis that the video is the teacher’s to use as they want – to share or not to share depending on how they wish to proceed. Panopto’s permissions structure allows us to offer this flexibility to our teachers, which is very helpful. In situations where teachers are less shy, we encourage them to embed their video content on our staff intranet, so they can share examples of best practice.
From starting out with Panopto as a self-reflection and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) tool, we’ve found that teachers are now coming to us with new ideas about how they want to integrate video into their teaching. They want to use it to share content with students, not just observe them! We’ve seen teachers from subjects as diverse as sociology and physics filming bite-sized chunks of video for revision purposes, often demonstrating something practical, or using it with a visualiser to show, say, an equation. After Easter we’re going to run a project to make elements of the student induction process available on video – such as how to use the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) or the library service. We also plan to use it for English speaking tests and in our Modern Foreign Languages Department.
Naturally, it has taken a while for the system to bed-in. Initially a significant proportion of staff didn’t want to be filmed and just used audio and screen capture, but as teachers are getting more comfortable with the system, increasing numbers are using video with their recordings too. Of course, Panopto is just one of many technologies our teachers are using to improve student engagement and so it’s important that it seems accessible and easy to use for them. Something that is helping with this is the fact we have been able customise Panopto using our logo and brand colour. The latest release of the product made it very simple to give the user-interface a ‘John Leggott look-and-feel’, which helps staff see this video technology as ‘ours’. This sense of ownership is really crucial as we look to expand the use of the system to more teachers and students.
If you want to find out more about how Panopto can help colleges improve teaching and learning, you can contact Frances Andrews by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can learn more about custom branding here.