A few years back, administrators at Northwest University, a private liberal arts college in Washington State’s Puget Sound region, had cause for concern. Northwest had received alarming news: nearby Washington State had confirmed its first case of H1N1 flu. With more than 570 H1N1 flu cases already confirmed in the state, Northwest administrators sought to prepare for all of the possibilities.
As they began discussing new cleaning and sanitizing initiatives, they also grappled with how to help sick students get well quickly – without missing weeks of class time or infecting others. Luckily, Dr. Waldemar Kowalski, a professor at Northwest University, had an answer.
Dr. Kowalski had been researching technology solutions, looking for a way to enhance the learning experience of Northwest students by reducing the stress associated with taking notes or missing class. He concluded that a lecture capture solution – which would enable professors to record and share videos of their lectures online –would be the perfect fit.
Confident of the benefits of lecture capture, Dr. Kowalski and the Northwest University Information Services Oversight Team began searching for a solution that could be deployed easily and cost-effectively across Northwest’s campus. After a competitive evaluation process, the team chose Panopto.
In searching for a video content management system, Northwest University looked for something that students would be inspired to adopt right away. After carefully reviewing Panopto, the school realized that it offered two major advantages over comparable VCMS options. One was usability. The other was functionality.
“The service has been superb,” Dr. Kowalski says. “The help we have had setting up Panopto and answering our questions has been terrific. This is probably the most responsive technical support team we have dealt with.”
Panopto makes video easy with an intuitive interface and a one-click recording and sharing process. It uploads completed recordings instantly into a secure video library, automatically formatting each in an easy-to-use, easy-to-share MP3/MP4 format with links to recordings that can be posted online. Professors can create recordings and make them available within minutes, and students don’t need to buy specialized equipment for watching videos. Students particularly appreciate the iPhone app that allows them to watch the lectures while on the go.
“With Panopto, you don’t need a huge technical staff to make it happen,” says Dr. Kowalski. “You can set it up for your faculty members so it’s almost goof-proof.”
Professors can record their lectures right along with their PowerPoint slides and other multimedia presentations, creating rich media recordings that mimic the classroom experience. They can also add a lecture transcription and additional notes that appear alongside the visual presentation.
Panopto’s integration to the open-source content management system Moodle was another huge plus for Northwest. Already the main university repository for student and course materials, Moodle was a big part of Northwest’s existing technological infrastructure. It also provided students with one centralized, online location for all their courses – and now, it still can.
School administrators also appreciate how Panopto provides viewing statistics for videos, including number of views, number of minutes viewed, most-viewed videos, and more. They also enjoy having access control integrated with their LMS, allowing them to determine who can view and edit the library of videos. Meanwhile, Panopto’s developer APIs help school officials perform custom authentication and integration, automate user management, and run custom reports.
Excited by Panopto’s innovative functionality, Northwest introduced Panopto during the 2008-2009 academic year. Initial feedback was so positive that the school began a staged campus-wide rollout the very next year.
“After we rolled out Panopto, we were a little surprised to see the enthusiasm it generated among our students. We soon discovered that our student volunteers who give tours to prospective new admissions and their parents were talking about Panopto and the difference it’s made in their education.”Lynette Sorenson, Education Technologist – Northwest University
Today, Panopto is available in all of Northwest’s classrooms, as well as in the school’s branch campus in Idaho. After over ten years and thousands of hours of video recording, the benefits are more apparent than ever.
With Panopto, students who are absent are able to see the lecture in its entirety – as if they were sitting right there. That means athletes and other students missing classes when traveling for school-sanctioned events no longer need to scramble to obtain course material.
With Panopto in place, students have a new communication tool that can record their work – presentations, responses to discussion topics, even open questions – and share them with their teachers or their classmates using the class’s Panopto dropbox. This interactivity boosts learning and improves the educational experience.
Lecture recordings have also proven a valuable tool for aiding retention as students prepare ahead of exams. In one class in the School of Nursing, professors recorded 54 hours of video over the course of the semester. As finals came near, students viewed over 129 hours of that video again outside of class.
Although lecture capture, distance learning, and video-enhanced classrooms were of primary importance to Northwest, there was a fourth benefit, too – one that school administrators did not at first anticipate.
“After we rolled out Panopto, we were a little surprised to see the enthusiasm it generated among our students,” says Education Technologist Lynette Sorenson. “We soon discovered that our student volunteers who give tours to prospective new admissions and their parents were talking about Panopto and the difference it’s made in their education.”
Such discussions weren’t scripted (Panopto hadn’t even been considered as a differentiator for new and prospective students), but were organic and spontaneous, arising from the excitement of the students over this innovative aspect of their education.