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Suffolk University Wins Digital Education Achievement Award

The Center for Digital Education recently announced its 2012 Digital Education Achievement Award winners, and we are pleased to report that longtime Panopto customer Suffolk University has taken Honorable Mention in the Digital Application/Project category.

Congratulations to Dr. Praneeth Machettira, Director of Technology, and his staff for their hard work and achievement!

CDE’s Digital Education Achievement Awards “recognize outstanding contributions at the application, intranet and infrastructure level, all to the benefit and quality of online education for students, teachers and the community.” CDE specifically recognized Suffolk for its lecture capture system, which is built on the Panopto video platform and integrates with Suffolk’s existing Blackboard LMS and Active Directory database.

Customer since 2008

Suffolk University has been a Panopto customer since early 2008 when the Sawyer Business School began planning an expansion of its online MBA program to include undergraduate programs. Professors were already using BlackBoard regularly to post lecture PowerPoint slides and link to supplementary material, but were struggling with existing methods for capturing and sharing recorded lectures with their students.

Before Panopto, faculty members had to make appointments at a university recording studio and record lectures months in advance to ensure there was adequate time for the IT staff to record the session, digitally code the file and upload it to BlackBoard. These solutions also lacked advanced editing tools, meaning professors had to recreate videos each time they updated a lecture’s content. Additionally, these studio-recorded lectures lacked question and answer sessions and other student comments that were part of the interactive lecture experience.

Video Capture Expands Across the Suffolk Campus

Since piloting Panopto in 2008, Dr. Machettira and his team have created a heavily-used and well-supported capture and management system utilized by faculty throughout the Sawyer Business School, Suffolk Law School, and College of Arts and Sciences. Panopto use has also evolved beyond the pilot’s initial goal of increasing online course offerings for online business students. Today, Suffolk instructors are encouraged to use Panopto to record supplementary course content and communication directly from their laptops in addition to traditional lecture capture. Students and administrators are also granted Panopto accounts to record class projects and interactive administrative videos.

According to Dr. Machettira, if there is a single idea that best describes Suffolk’s Panopto installation, it’s that it’s an “open system.” Machettira’s Office of Technology Management did not have the resources to systematically outfit individual classrooms with traditional lecture capture hardware, but they found Panopto so easy to use, that it enabled a more organic approach to campus-wide video. “We were able to build an economical video system,” says Machettira. He estimates that by using Panopto’s software solution instead of a traditional hardware approach, Suffolk has saved over $2 million in both infrastructure and licensing costs.

Instead of creating a top-down, heavily-managed video capture system, Suffolk equipped faculty members with simple webcams and individual access to Panopto. “We elected to empower our faculty to use Panopto as they see fit in their own classrooms and offices, and it’s been a great success. Though we’ve created an excellent training and support system around our Panopto installation, I always tell new users that once they get setup, they’ll never have to call us.”

Suffolk University is proud to be recognized by the Center for Digital Education for the excellence of their video capture and management system, but they are not resting on their laurels any time soon. Next up for Dr. Machettira’s team is designing a mobile strategy around Panopto’s mobile app and rolling it out across campus in support of the university’s teaching, learning and research goals.

Congratulations again to Suffolk University and Dr. Machettira on this well-deserved award!

– Tom Johnson