• Academic Technology

Why Classroom Capture?: Views from a Pioneer School

While lecture capture is becoming more and more common at UK universities, the equivalent for schools – what you might term ‘classroom capture’ – is relatively rare. When you consider that most of the reasons you’d want to capture university-level teaching content holds equally true at school-level, this is pretty strange. After all, universities are often using lecture capture technology to help students review difficult concepts at their own pace and revise more effectively for exams – something schools want to help their students with too. Which is why at Skinners’ Kent Academy, we’ve decided to take a somewhat pioneering approach by enabling classroom capture in all of our rooms through Panopto’s technology. We’ve just gone live and we’ve already got big plans for the system.

We’d trialled Panopto back in June 2012 and we quickly saw that there would be lots of practical uses for our students and teachers. For instance, if students are sick, it is very easy for them to catch up with the lessons they’ve missed on-demand, or even to tune into a live broadcast of a lesson from home. This will be especially important in specialist areas of science and technology which would normally be difficult to replicate if a student misses the initial lesson. Panopto’s ability to handle screen capture, rooms set up with multiple cameras, wireless visualisers and more lends itself to recording experiments, technical demonstrations and the like. The solution supports pretty much anything – that’s why I like it!

The fact that Panopto can be used on the iPad as well as the iPhone is also a major bonus, as all our students are about to be given their own iPads. We tried offering them netbooks initially but this nearly caused a mutiny and we were told they were totally old fashioned! In this respect, the students are often way ahead of the teachers – they don’t even need training on these devices, they just figure them out. The widespread use of smartphones and tablets has put mobility and accessibility at the heart of learning now, and this allows teachers to develop more creative approaches to the learning process, liked flipped classroom formats. Obviously a flipped classroom is possible without technology, but platforms like Panopto just make it easier.

But before we use Panopto for these more innovative forms of engagement, we’ll have a settling in or ‘adjustment’ period. During this time, we’ll mainly use Panopto for capturing teacher’s presentations in class. We’ll use the Summer to reflect on how things are going, deciding when we can try other features; like using mobile recording on the iPhone app to record content from field trips and capture performances in our outdoor amphitheatre. It is enough for us to know that the functionality is there – the teachers can then determine how best to integrate it into their lessons. The fact that Panopto is very easy to use will make rolling it out across the school a fairly smooth process; with teachers able to grasp the fundamentals of using the system after only a few minutes’ worth of training. At the moment, our teachers are mainly curious as to the possibilities Panopto offers and interested to test the waters.

Panopto is just one part of our puzzle at Skinners’ Kent Academy. We’ve implemented many leading edge technologies at the school from our 3D cinema space to our digital signage. None of this is a replacement for core teaching skills – it just gives us more avenues to explore for the benefit of both students and staff. Schools have already learned lots of lessons from universities around e-learning and blended learning. We see lecture/classroom capture as just the latest – and in our opinion, one of the most useful – practices we can borrow from our counterparts in higher education.


Miro Blahut is ICT Network Manager at The Skinners’ Kent Academy, where he is leading the implementation and roll-out of Panopto across the school. The Skinners’ Kent Academy is based in Tunbridge Wells, UK, and provides secondary education to students between the ages of 11 and 18. 

To find out more about how Panopto can help your school, please contact us at [email protected].