HomeLancaster University

Lancaster University

Livestreaming Lectures So All Interested Students Can Attend a Popular Class


Auto-Generated URLs Optimized Student-Instructor Workflow

Increased Instructor Adoption with Customizable Permissions

Manageable workload for IT staff

The Challenge

In October 2012, a new term was about to start at Lancaster University when a lecturer discovered one of his classes had struck a chord with students and was proving incredibly popular. The only problem was that the room booked for the class could only hold 300 students – and 350 wanted to sign up. How could the university make sure the extra 50 students could access the same content as those in the main lecture hall?

An obvious solution was to set up a temporary overflow class. But as the class was due to run two or three times per week, having to set up a link with manual equipment multiple times a week would have involved several members of staff and the team did not have this resource to spare. The question for the Digital Technologies Team was: Could it find a way to make the temporary overflow class work so that all of their students were happy without placing an untenable burden on their staff?

With the term about to start, David Neal, Digital Technologies Engineer suggested trying Panopto’s live broadcasting functionality.

The Solution

Reflecting on what happened next, David Neal says: “We needed a quick and easy way to connect students with the lecturers’ content while we worked on a longer-term plan, and Panopto seemed to offer us the best way forward. Obviously, as we hadn’t originally intended to use Panopto for live event broadcasting, we were curious to see whether it would deliver what we needed. 

“What we found was that it was incredibly easy to use – I just opened up the Panopto Recorder as usual and ticked the box that said ‘broadcast and record’. This auto-generated a URL which we could then simply pull up in the overflow room to let the students there see essentially all the same things as those in the main lecture room – video of the lecturer, audio, his PowerPoint slides; everything.

“With the Panopto solution, we only needed one member of the team to make sure the URL was playing in the overflow venue (and to tick the box!). It really took no time at all.”

“What we found was that it was incredibly easy to use – I just opened up the Panopto Recorder as usual and ticked the box that said ‘broadcast and record.”

David Neal, Digital Technologies Engineer – Lancaster University

The Impact

Following the success of live broadcasting, David Neal’s team plans to roll out Panopto across the whole university, primarily for its original intended purpose as a lecture capture tool. The new challenge will be doing this at a pace lecturers can absorb, ensuring they feel comfortable with the technology. The Digital Technologies Team believes that Panopto’s remote recorder will play a key role here – allowing them to schedule lecture capture centrally and removing the burden from academics entirely.

The fact that recordings go to a private folder that only lecturers have access to before they are made public through the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) will also help the adoption process, reassuring lecturers that they can review their content before students can. 

Explore More