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Saint Louis University

Switching Lecture Capture Solutions: After Piloting A Newer Low-Cost System, SLU Chooses Panopto


20 terabytes of course videos migrated to a new library

Positive feedback from faculty

On-site training made instructors comfortable with technology

The Challenge

Saint Louis University (SLU) was an early adopter of using video to expand the classroom beyond its physical walls. More than a decade ago, the institution installed what was at the time a revolutionary webcasting solution that allowed faculty to broadcast live, online videos of its classrooms.

This early approach to video-enabled learning proved popular on campus – so popular, in fact, that their original system soon became a victim of its own success. In short order, faculty began asking why the system was limited to live webcasting and how they could record and share their lectures as well as other classroom content with students on-demand.

By 2009, the university adopted a new solution for supporting video on campus. Unfortunately, the new provider found itself in the midst of significant changes to its business and operations, and the company all but stopped making updates to its solution. Faculty and students once again became frustrated, and usage of the lecture capture system began to decline. 

The time was right for SLU to look for its next new video solution – one that would not only be easy enough for everyone to use, but also flexible enough to meet the diverse and ever-evolving needs of the campus.

In seeking a new video solution, Kyle Collins, Assistant Vice President for Technology Transformation at SLU, says, “We centrally manage the technology in all of our 350 classrooms, so we wanted a lecture capture system that could work with the in-room equipment we already had and enable us to automate lecture capture across our entire campus.” 

In addition to scaling lecture capture, SLU’s new video solution needed to make it easy for faculty to record and edit their own course videos. This, in turn, would enable instructors to employ a broader range of pedagogies such as the flipped classroom, rhizomatic learning, experiential learning, and more.

After comprehensive research of the leading video solutions on the market and several presentations from potential vendors to both faculty and students, SLU had narrowed the field down to two potential video platforms: Panopto, and a newer low-cost lecture capture solution. As the low-cost system claimed to be developing features that faculty had deemed critical, the university opted to pilot the budget option. Quickly, the decision to pilot would prove wise – by helping the university avoid a mistake.

At the launch of the pilot, faculty and students were excited to try the new video solution. Their enthusiasm, however, quickly waned. The pilot made it clear that the tool was much more difficult to use, and that it was missing many of the key features they had been promised. 

“Faculty and students were so displeased with it that no one was willing to continue using it,” said Collins. 

Armed with more information and an opportunity to reevaluate their options, SLU decided to begin a new pilot – but this time, with Panopto.

The Solution

Having piloted the first solution in the fall semester, SLU’s Panopto pilot began during the following spring. This time, the response from faculty and students was completely different.

“Everyone who tried Panopto unanimously agreed it was the right video solution,” says Carlos Landeau, Senior Project Manager at SLU, who was responsible for the Panopto implementation.

In the Panopto video platform, SLU found a secure end-to-end video solution with the features it had been looking for, including:

  • Multi-camera video recording that could be provisioned inside classrooms and enable recording from the faculty’s own devices
  • Video management tools to support central administration and the remote scheduling of recordings
  • Simple online editing tools for cutting, splicing, and embedding quizzes
  • Scalable and affordable video captioning for accessibility
  • Easy integration with the existing LMS

The team at SLU also found Panopto to be an enthusiastic partner, dedicated to helping the university successfully implement the solution at scale and integrate the new video platform into its existing learning systems.

“The customer support we received from Panopto was impressive,” said Landeau. “The Panopto team was always responsive and willing to do anything it took to solve an issue for us.”

“I think it’s always good to go with the industry leader. And, in our experience, Panopto is just that.”

Kyle Collins, Assistant Vice President for Technology Transformation – SLU

The Impact

With the endorsement of the campus following the successful pilot, SLU was ready to make the switch to Panopto. Deploying the new video platform across campus, however, would only be a part of the transition. Before they could give up their existing lecture capture system, the school would first need to migrate its existing collection of course recordings into its new Panopto video library. 

It was no small requirement. SLU had more than 20 terabytes of course videos, and its initial estimates were that full migration would require roughly five to six months.

Fortunately, Panopto had developed a video migration tool that would do just that. Working together on the challenge, the teams at Panopto and SLU were able to dramatically shorten the time needed to successfully move the school’s video library. “We outlined the challenge, and the Panopto team found ways to shorten the timeline and help us beat our deadline,” says Landeau. 

With the video library migration problem solved, the only thing left to do to ensure Panopto would be successfully adopted on campus was to train the faculty on how to use the school’s new video platform. 

As part of its decision to purchase Panopto, SLU chose a support plan that included dedicated on-site and virtual training, delivered by the Panopto team. In the run-up to the first semester with Panopto on campus, those sessions helped instructors and administrators become comfortable with the new technology. 

“Panopto’s training has simply been great,” says Landeau. “We had fantastic interest, and attendance at the training sessions was maxed out to capacity almost every time. The feedback from faculty has been very positive.” 

Having navigated more than a few challenges in the university’s journey to switch lecture capture solutions, Collins believes that, in the end, Saint Louis University made the exact right choice. “I think it’s always good to go with the industry leader. And, in our experience, Panopto is just that.”

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