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Reflections on the Panopto Europe User Conference 2013

You know you’re making an impression on people’s everyday working lives when you find out that academics are starting to say to their learning technology teams: “Can you Panopto me?”! This was one of the comments that stuck out most for me at our summer User Conference, held last week at Newcastle University Business School. It represents the long way we’ve come in becoming a trusted and vital part of the teaching and learning provision at our client universities over the past few years.

We now hold two User Conferences a year, and they have become focal points for discussion, for the sharing of best practice and for the celebration of innovative uses of our solution amongst our growing European user group. This time round, we welcomed 80 delegates, mostly from the UK, but some visitors from overseas too. It was great to see such a range of institutions in attendance – from brand new users to universities capturing lectures on an industrial scale.

MOOCs, mobile and integrations were key themes that permeated the first day. We were joined by Dr Sue Rigby from the University of Edinburgh who talked about her institution’s experience of rolling out MOOC courses on the Coursera platform and some of the results they’d seen. While Panopto is often viewed primarily as a lecture capture tool, it is also an end-to-end video content management and webcasting system that can be used to deliver MOOC content to millions of learners globally. It was interesting to discuss the impact these types of courses are having on universities and their learners and we want to encourage universities to use Panopto to make MOOCs – and then to discuss the results with us at a future User Conference.

Mobile-wise the message coming loud and clear from Panopto co-founder and CTO Eric Burns was that users want nothing less than instant and total gratification. Eric outlined exciting plans for Panopto mobile, emphasising our commitment to deliver a user experience that matches iPad owners’ expectations. Eric demonstrated our recently launched iPad app, which offers a simple, clutter-free user interface, but all the rich functionality (especially around search) that our users have come to love and expect. For our users, this will enable them to record and view content on the fly much more easily.

The integrations part of the programme was a bit of a whirlwind tour through integration success stories with Syllabus+, CMIS, Blackboard and Moodle at five of our client institutions. For anyone looking to emulate any of these types of integrations, the recordings of these sessions will be available soon and will be useful reference points.

Other highlights from the first day were the contributions from Jackie Milne from JISC on the legal implications of lecture capture and the sessions from various members of the Newcastle team talking about the impact of their institution-wide roll-out of Panopto. Professor Suzanne Cholerton and Dr Phil Ansell highlighted some of the ways in which Newcastle’s use of Panopto has enhanced the student learning experience with some great analytics showing how students are accessing recorded content. Mark Agar, Susan Barfield and Andrew Martin gave a more techie perspective on how they’ve integrated Panopto into institutional workflows to ensure it works seamlessly for both academics and learners.

The formal part of the day ended with some hands-on training for Panopto beginners, before everyone headed to the very impressive Great Hall of Newcastle’s Discovery Museum for some well-earned food and refreshments and the chance to mull over the content of the first day.

The next day we reconvened to hear more from Newcastle University on student reactions to lecture capture and get a more in-depth review of how to scale with Panopto from our Director of Application Engineering, Dave Hannan. The conference was rounded off with an ‘Ask the Experts’ session, which gave users the chance to talk to Dave and Eric about their burning issues, questions and feature requests. As a company, we thrive on feedback from clients and relish the opportunity to engage directly to find out what they want and need from us, so this was a great way to finish the User Conference.

The planning for the next European User Conference – taking place in November at Imperial College, London – is already underway and we’re looking forward to doing it all again in a few months’ time! If you’re a Panopto user and you want to suggest a theme for us to cover at this event, you’ll have a chance to put forward your ideas by filling out our survey, which will be sent out very soon.

In the meantime, you can tweet us your own reflections on the event by using the hashtag #panoptoconf or by submitting a comment below.