HomeUniversity of Waikato

University of Waikato

Making Lectures More Accessible


Lectures captured without special hardware

Over 4,700 total viewing hours per week

50 screencasts produced by the University Law Library

The Challenge

In 2009, The University of Waikato in the “river city” of Hamilton, New Zealand, was searching for technology to capture its on-campus lectures. 

University leadership knew that economic and life factors such as full-time work, raising a family, or living outside commuting distance could prevent some students from pursuing a degree. As part of its commitment to making education broadly accessible, the university wanted to bridge this distance learning gap for students. 

Initially, the university was looking for a solution that would enable them to record lectures and upload them to its iTunesU website. Nigel Robertson, Head of the University’s eLearning Centre, says that when the Centre was tasked with evaluating a number of lecture capture technologies, it found Panopto to be the most scalable, flexible, and easy-to-use solution. 

The Solution

Because Panopto runs on any laptop, the university could capture lectures anywhere on campus without the need for expensive specialized hardware. Panopto’s webcasting capabilities would enable the lectures to be streamed live anywhere in the world, and the built-in video content management system would provide on-demand access to lectures from any laptop, tablet, or mobile device.

In class, Panopto’s open architecture made it possible to record lectures using Waikato’s existing security camera system. And in their offices, professors could use Panopto to record lectures with a webcam via their Windows or Mac laptops. Panopto’s automatic synchronization of video, slides, and screen capture allowed professors to create professional-looking recordings without expensive and time-consuming post-production.

“With Panopto,” Robertson says, “everybody’s a videographer.”

As Panopto usage by faculty and students spread, the university discovered that it could also play a critical role in extending a college education to people who wouldn’t otherwise have access.

Using Panopto, students can watch recorded lectures from anywhere at a time most convenient to them. Students can also use Panopto’s video search engine to find specific words or phrases covered in the lecture – either in the professor’s slides or in transcribed audio – and jump straight to that point in the recording. This allows students to review and better grasp specific concepts without the need to watch the entire lecture again from start to finish.

“With Panopto, everybody’s a videographer.”

Nigel Robertson, Head of the eLearning Centre – University of Waikato

The Impact

For Waikato’s eLearning and on-campus programs, recorded lectures with Panopto have broken down barriers to participation, increased student learning opportunities, and greatly improved the overall academic experience.

From 2009 to 2011, the average time spent viewing Panopto lectures jumped from 19 hours per week to more than 4,700 hours per week. Although the statistics show that students, staff, and faculty have found tremendous value in Panopto’s recorded lectures, use of the technology hasn’t stopped there. Faculty and staff are now using Panopto in ways never imagined when the Waikato Centre for eLearning was first asked to find a lecture capture tool.

Management graduates use Panopto to record and hone their business pitches – reviewing their recordings immediately after presenting and making adjustments on the fly. Ensembles are broadcasting their performances live over the web to parents and music enthusiasts across New Zealand and around the world. An English as a second language (ESOL) team is using Panopto to display the shape of a mouth pronouncing English words to offer more in-depth instruction for those learning a new language. A professor in the engineering program has even experimented with Panopto’s unique multi-cam video to capture complex demonstrations from multiple camera angles while simultaneously capturing his writing through the inclusion of a digital whiteboard. 

Staff and faculty across the university have been using Panopto’s desktop capture capabilities to create screencasts and ‘How-to’ videos. The instructional screencasts cover a range of topics including software installation and the University’s learning management system. The University Law Library alone has over 50 short screencasts showing how to perform effective legal research.

Robertson also reports that some faculty members have begun to explore the use of video for student feedback on their assignments. “The recording allows for more detail and personalization than is possible with traditional margin notes,” Robertson says. 

“As a student’s essay is shown on the screen, the instructor can work through it, highlighting sections while speaking to its structure and content. It’s yet another innovative use for Panopto at the University. It’s a great tool for both our students and our faculty – one that fosters an interactive learning environment and encourages self-discovery and continuous improvement.”

Explore More