The Great Social Learning Debate

Recently here at Panopto, we’ve been having an argument. Er… a debate.

A discussion.

Yes, that’s it: just a discussion — albeit a pretty lengthy and heated one. The crux of the matter is this: When it comes to posting social learning videos — presentations, demos, and announcements — how perfect is too perfect, and how flawed is too flawed?

Is it better to be polished and perfect, no matter the added effort? Or is it better to deliver something still a little rough around the edges right at the moment it’s most valuable?

Picture-Perfect Presentations

On the one side, you’ve got the voices that want to put the best light on things, show what technology can really do, and just look their best for the cameras. Here at Panopto, this is the team that wants every video recorded with our technology to look as polished as something created by professional videographers and editing teams.


There’s a certain earnestness in perfectionism – why do something at all if you aren’t going to do it right? Why not spruce up that PowerPoint design, record a second (or third) take to get the speech right, or reset the screen recording to better capture an animation or movement? If the goal is sharing knowledge, shouldn’t we share the best possible version?

Timely, Topical Takes

Then you have the other side. The side that says that cites Pareto’s famous 80/20 rule and insists that social learning offers the best returns when timeliness is king. Revising those typos runs into the law of diminishing returns they say. So long as the content is factually accurate, better to record now and share as soon as possible. Viewers will benefit more from having the information available at all than they will waiting for minor details to be tweaked for improvement.


At the core of all of this, of course, is our changing relationship with technology and how we use it to communicate.

Technologies like Facebook have made us more willing to share our ideas with large audiences, and the availability of high-quality video cameras on our laptops and phones has given us a new, more impactful way to communicate. The result is that anyone can now share their knowledge and best practices with (potentially) the entire company, from anywhere and at any time of day or night, without specialized training or hardware, but with just a few moments of time.

Of course, perfect messages are imperfect if they don’t arrive in time. Timely messages are wasted if they don’t make the facts clear. As with many debates, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

At Panopto, we’re happy our platform enables both ends of the spectrum and everything in between – HD, multi-camera recording for the perfectionists, and instant, sharable presentations for those focused on timeliness. However, that certainly doesn’t mean that we’ll stop — um — “discussing” the issue. What would be the fun in that?

We want your opinion. Would you rather watch a knowledge-sharing video that is a little rough around the edges in production but right on time, or a clean, more produced presentation shared a little bit later? Let us know in the comments.

Published: January 06, 2014