In late 2009, Brian Young, VP and CIO of Creighton University, and Anthony Hendrickson, Dean of the College of Business, began discussing the possibility of bringing lecture capture to Creighton. In early 2010, Young directed Instructional Designer Rick Murch-Shafer of the Creighton Division of Information Technology (DoIT) to investigate potential lecture capture solutions.
Murch-Shafer and fellow Instructional Designer, Tobias Nownes, were given three basic guidelines at the outset: The solution must be easy to scale campus-wide, it must capture video, and faculty must be able to record outside the classroom.
Like many colleges and universities without a campus-wide lecture capture program, various groups at Creighton had, over the years, had sporadic, small-scale experience with different lecture capture vendors. An appliance-based solution was already being used in one school on campus, and the DoIT team was familiar with a few other hardware vendors. But the need to enable off-campus, flexible recording eliminated these appliance-based solutions from the start.
Brian Young’s directive to find an easy-to-scale solution also ended up disqualifying the appliance option. Creighton’s vision of a “campus-wide solution” is comprehensive. It means a recording capability in every classroom. Buying and maintaining hundreds of fixed, hardware-based appliances proved unworkable and unaffordable at that scale.
The DoIT team then trained its sights on software-based solutions. Team members were already familiar with one popular screencasting solution, but its video capability simply didn’t measure up to the other solutions in the field. So DoIT commenced side-by-side pilots of Panopto and another leading SaaS lecture capture platform.
In the end, Panopto’s ease-of-use won out.
After completing pilot programs in the Spring of 2010, the lecture capture team from Creighton’s Division of Information Technology (DoIT) began preparing to go live with Panopto for the Fall term. They decided to initiate a gradual rollout in order to test the system fully before ramping up across campus.
From the beginning, the DoIT team appreciated Panopto’s ability to plug-and-play in virtually any A/V environment. As the team prepared their selected departments and faculty for the initial rollout, they also took the time to test a variety of A/V equipment and build a coherent workflow for outfitting new classrooms.
“We wanted to develop a consistent install base to make provisioning our classrooms an easy process,” says MurchShafer. “Our classroom team has done a phenomenal job of optimizing installations, equipment positioning, and cable routing.”
With rooms ready and Biology, Chemistry, Medicine, and Business all onboard, DoIT was ready to launch its new “BlueCast” lecture system in the Fall of 2010.
“Our rollout was measured both in terms of installation and the use cases we initially allowed,” says Murch-Shafer. “We wanted to test the impact of widespread video capture on our network and servers before we opened the floodgates, so initially, we only allowed lectures to be recorded.”
The team was not disappointed. “We were very impressed during our trial by how quickly recordings were uploaded to the server upon completion,” says Murch-Shafer. “We all expected these rates to diminish as more simultaneous sessions were recorded and uploaded across campus, but they didn’t, which was a pleasant surprise. Current upload times are still swift and impressive.”
As usage steadily increased, the DoIT team hired Application Specialist Brent Saltzman to manage and grow the system. According to Saltzman, BlueCast “caused quite a buzz on campus” in its first year, and is now being used in virtually every corner of the university. As groups continue to express interest, the DoIT team takes every opportunity to expand usage and enable more classrooms.
“Because of the flexibility of the system, faculty are now able to effect a kind of time shift. Students watch the Panopto lecture before class, and the instructor can address points of confusion directed by the students in the classroom.”Tobias Nownes, Instructional Designer – Creighton University
After one year of Panopto deployment, Creighton University’s BlueCast Lecture system had grown from a small five course pilot program into an essential campus service with over 10,000 recordings. The lecture capture team from Creighton’s Division of Information Technology (DoIT) no longer needed to convince departments to adopt the technology – because students were demanding it.
As Instructional designers at Creighton, Murch-Shafer and Nownes help faculty develop online courses for various programs across campus. Most of the content is pre-built, including the lectures. Once recorded, professors are able to use the same “evergreen content” rolling from semester to semester, especially for 100-level courses where the themes don’t change as much. If the material becomes dated or a shift in focus necessitates new content, instructors can edit and add to their existing sessions or record new ones.
“Because of the flexibility of the system, faculty are now able to effect a kind of time shift,” Nownes says. “Students watch the Panopto lecture before class, and the instructor can address points of confusion directed by the students in the classroom.”
“We’re seeing this a lot now,” Murch-Shafer says. “Professors are changing the way they teach because of the technology. By assigning lectures outside of class, they have more time for classroom discussion, labs, and other forms of group work.”
With the rapid growth of Creighton’s BlueCast system in popularity and adoption, Saltzman and his DoIT colleagues have begun encouraging more expansive use cases of the Panopto software. The School of Medicine initiated the first extensive non-lecture use of Panopto, recording practice doctor/patient consultations from 10 “small group rooms” which were already outfitted with cameras and mics.
A variety of groups on campus are also leveraging Panopto to create distance learning programs and broadcast academic events. In 2011, Saltzman used Panopto to broadcast Creighton’s Presidential Convocation.
“Broadcasting this event used to be a difficult thing to do,” Saltzman says. “But with Panopto, I was able to trim the beginning and ending of the recording in the Panopto editor and distribute the link within an hour. This capability is becoming a real plus for us.”