Lecture Capture Goes Campus-Wide at Creighton University, Part 2

This is the second in a series of 4 posts featuring Creighton University’s BlueCast lecture capture system, powered by Panopto.  These posts will cover Creighton’s implementation from trial to campus-wide capture as follows:

1.     Competition and Selection
2.     Introducing Bluecast
3.     Expanding Adoption
4.     Spotlight: Creighton live streams “Match Day” ceremony with Panopto

Preparing to go Live

After completing their pilot programs in the Spring of 2010, the lecture capture team from Creighton’s Division of Information Technology (DoIT) began preparing to go live with Panopto for the Fall term. They decided to initiate a gradual rollout in order to test the system fully before ramping up across campus. “Our first step was to identify academic units with a lecture-based instructional methodology,” recalls Tobias Nownes. “We felt like these groups gave us the best chance for broad initial adoption and would help us gauge use and management requirements as well as impact on student learning.”

The Creighton College of Business was among the first groups to be invited as was the School of Medicine which had already instituted its own form of grassroots lecture capture. “They were using a portable mp3 player to record lectures,” says Rick Murch-Shafer. “A designated student would be responsible for recording the lecture, uploading it to a central server, and then manually linking it to our LMS.”

Around the same time, Murch-Shafer noticed some unusually large files being uploaded to the LMS by the Biology department. “I found a couple of Biology courses that had about 1.5 GB of data in their folders,” remarks Murch-Shafer. “Turns out they were already recording MP3s of their lectures at a very high quality, but without taking any care to compress the files and conserve space on our servers. So we went to Biology (and later Chemistry) and invited them to be part of the initial rollout, essentially offering them an automated, feature-rich way to accomplish their original intention. They jumped at the opportunity.”

A/V Decisions

From the beginning, the DoIT team appreciated Panopto’s ability to plug-and-play in virtually any A/V environment. As the team prepared their selected departments and faculty for the initial rollout, they also took the time to test a variety of A/V equipment and build a coherent workflow for outfitting new classrooms. “We wanted to develop a consistent install base to make provisioning our classrooms an easy process,” says Murch-Shafer. “Our classroom team has done a phenomenal job of optimizing installations, equipment positioning, and cable routing.”

The standard capture-enabled classroom at Creighton now includes:

  • An Osprey 100 Video Capture Card
  • One (or more) security-type cameras for capture
  • An Acoustic Magic voice tracker array microphone, ceiling mounted
  • Lavaliere mics in the larger rooms (no one uses them in medium and small rooms)

From the beginning, the DoIT team has adhered to the practice of outfitting all of the classrooms in a department before attempting a department-wide lecture capture expansion. According to Nownes, “we quickly learned that the best way to achieve broad adoption within a college or department was to offer the same capture experience in every room an instructor was likely visit.”

Going Campus-wide

With their rooms ready and Biology, Chemistry, Medicine, and Business all onboard, DoIT was ready to launch BlueCast in the Fall of 2010. “Our rollout was measured both in terms of installation and the use cases we initially allowed,” admits Murch-Shafer. “We wanted to test the impact of widespread video capture on our network and servers before we opened the floodgates, so initially, we only allowed lectures to be recorded.”

The team was not disappointed. “We were very impressed during our trial by how quickly recordings were uploaded to the server upon completion,” suggests Murch-Shafer. “We all expected these rates to diminish as more simultaneous sessions were recorded and uploaded across campus, but they didn’t, which was a pleasant surprise. Current upload times are still swift and impressive.”

As usage steady increased, the DoIT team hired Application Specialist Brent Saltzman to manage and grow the system. According to Saltzman, BlueCast “caused quite a buzz on campus” in its first year, and is now being used in virtually every corner of the university. As groups continue to express interest, the DoIT team takes every opportunity to expand usage and enable more classrooms.

As of March 2012, they have outfitted 120 of a targeted 170 classrooms, and every building on campus now has at least one capture-enabled classroom. This rapid expansion and adoption has produced some remarkable usage statistics.

By the numbers

The following statistics represent cumulative usage from October 2010 through January 2012.

Total Recordings 10,283
Total Views 217,259
Total Hours Recorded 8,222 hrs = 342.6 days = 11.5 months
Total Hours Viewed 101,148 hrs = 4,214 days = 11.5 years
Total Disk Space 2,636 GB (2.7 TB)


Up next: Expanding Adoption

Published: May 07, 2012