Mid-State Technical College is one of 16 regional colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System. It has four campuses and around 1,700 full-time students – the majority of whom are part-time, working adults – and employs around 84 full-time faculty and 250 part-time faculty.
In order to improve learning equity and achieve universal design standards, the college mandated that all learning videos include captions – but it lacked the tools to effectively deploy captions across all of its videos.
With faculty building videos on a daily basis, they did not have time to manually caption videos and the expense of purchasing human-transcribed captioning was prohibitive.
To address this challenge, the college was looking for a solution that offered auto-captioning. Previously, the college had been using Brainshark for lecture capture, ScreenPal (formerly Screencast-o-matic) for screencasting, and VidGrid – three platforms that did not meet all of their needs, particularly captioning.
Mid-State chose Panopto after an unofficial RFP process and demos with different companies, including Yuja and Brainshark. “The auto-captioning, video storage, and licensing structure was huge for us. Also, the video editing capabilities and ease of use [was vital] for faculty – especially for busy faculty,” says Lea-Ann Turner, Manager, Academic & Professional Excellence at Mid-State Technical College, Wisconsin Rapids Campus. “The LMS integration [with Blackboard] was another huge thing that really sold us on Panopto.”
Panopto rolled out in the fall of 2018, implemented in a single semester with all faculty trained on the tool at one time. “It is now part of our onboarding process, so anytime faculty are onboarded they are introduced to Panopto immediately,” says Turner.
Initially, instructors used Panopto to create videos for their courses – whether it was a welcome video or to capture lectures. Since implementation, the use case has expanded to include flipped classrooms and resource development – including staff using it for instructional videos to put on the student website for information on topics such as financial aid. “Faculty and staff love it because it’s easy to use, it’s easy to edit,” says Turner. “Faculty love it because it’s right there in Blackboard, they don’t have to log in to a separate account to use it.”
““One of our goals is high-quality online courses and high-quality education, and I really feel like Panopto is helping us reach that.””Lea-Ann Turner, Manager, Academic & Professional Excellence at Mid-State Technical College
Based on usage numbers, Panopto is “By far the most used tool apart from our LMS that we have at Mid-State – at least among faculty and staff,” says Turner. “This continues to be one of the top tools and we receive feedback that faculty enjoy using it.”
Hybrid Classroom Success
Coming out of the pandemic, students are craving that human touch with instructors, but they still want the flexibility of being able to juggle learning with other priorities. Hybrid learning – especially among the working adult population – is increasing significantly, and Panopto is a vital part of that at Mid-State. “We’ve always done hybrid classes, but since the pandemic it’s even more,” says Turner.
“Students expect video and it’s a way to engage. It’s also helping us with communication in the broader sense. This isn’t just about in the classroom, you can use this form of communication in so many ways across the college.”
Easy, Accurate Captions
When it comes to solving the issue of captioning, Turner is full of rave reviews. “I can’t brag enough about the captioning feature in Panopto and how well it does.” The feedback from faculty is full of praise, as well. “One of the things that I hear constantly is, ‘I can’t believe how accurate the captions are,’” says Turner.
Automatic captioning also helps busy faculty members avoid more manual tasks like switching on captions. “It saves them from having to remember things that they might forget because you don’t always have time to go back and look,” says Turner.
Unique Use Cases
Mid-State is utilizing Panopto for a range of unique needs, such as embedding Microsoft forms into video. Faculty are building Microsoft forms and linking the URL from the video. “It opens the form in the video so students can watch a video, fill out a form, and then continue on the video,” says Turner. “That’s been a really fun use case that some of our faculty are using.”
Another instructor at the college has been using Panopto in an online anatomy and physiology class to record the lab and dissection processes. Students can follow along at home with their own lab kit, asynchronously engaging in what would typically be an in-person class.
The use of Panopto on mobile devices has played an engaging part in law enforcement courses. Students are using their phones to record video scenarios that they’re playing out and uploading to Panopto. “Then they go back and debrief those scenarios. That’s a pretty cool use case,” says Turner.
Lastly, when going through accreditation, the college used Panopto to communicate with and update the rest of the college. The person in charge of accreditation would interview people on Panopto and send short snippets out via email every day. “That was wildly popular with our faculty and staff because they felt really prepared when the accreditors came,” says Turner.
The remarkable thing about Panopto is that Mid-State hardly ever needs customer support. “That speaks to the stability and the ease -of -use of the system, from an administrative perspective and a faculty perspective,” says Turner. “The documentation is thorough and easy to find. And we don’t need a lot of support.”
In the rare cases that the college needs help, it’s been nothing but a positive experience. “Every time we contact Panopto support it’s easy, it’s quick. We get our answers immediately.”
Looking to the future, Mid-State will continue to onboard new faculty and staff with Panopto while developing best practices in video creation. “[We’re] guiding faculty to shorter videos rather than a full lecture, because we’ve seen the effect of that based on the analytics. That’s going to be a big continued push for us,” says Turner.
Panopto’s analytics are changing the game at Mid-State, helping the institution improve its courses so much that it’s taught in the college’s advanced Panopto courses. “When it comes to using the analytics from your videos to see who’s watching, it’s always fun to watch faculty and the surprises they get. They say, ‘Okay people are watching, but when I have a three hour video nobody’s watching it or they’re only watching for 10 or 20 minutes,’” says Turner.
These kinds of insights will only further help the college shape its overall learning strategy moving forward. “The analytics tied to the video really tell a story and help those best practices,” says Turner.
“One of our goals is high-quality online courses and high-quality education, and I really feel like Panopto is helping us reach that.”