The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) is a public research university with more than 30,000 students. At the forefront of connected classroom experiences in the post-pandemic landscape, UNLV’s legacy approach to video learning was disorganized. Video was stored in a number of different locations, in a lot of different ways: many departments had individual solutions for themselves, and faculty were utilizing various storage mechanisms or keeping videos in UNLV’s learning management system – which was Blackboard at the time.
In 2018, UNLV adopted Panopto as its video management platform after evaluating multiple different solutions. The institution was interested in a video management system with a tight integration into Canvas – at the time the university was migrating to Canvas from Blackboard. UNLV was also analyzing the various video management possibilities outside of lecture capture, such as captioning capabilities to comply with accessibility requirements. “Accessibility was starting to become an issue, and it’s become a bigger issue as we’ve moved along,” says Mark Kasselhut, Senior e-Learning Technology Manager at UNLV.
UNLV adopted Panopto in 2018. One of the key appealing features of Panopto was the LTI integration with Canvas, which provided the ability for students to watch content without having to leave Canvas, whether it was directly from the integration or embedded within a page, module, or announcement. In addition, faculty could manage and create content directly from the LTI as well – even within the class section for which the content was intended.
“It was a no-brainer feature to implement from the administrative side, but it was a feature that faculty and students didn’t realize they needed until they saw it in action,” says Andy Borts, Senior Instructional Technology Support Specialist.
Panopto continued to be the ideal solution to support UNLV’s mission of providing flexible learning options through their “RebelFlex” classroom. The name “RebelFlex” was inspired by UNLV’s “Rebels” nickname, which reflects the tenacious attitude and relentless spirit of the university. UNLV’s take on HyFlex learning, the RebelFlex classroom has all the native equipment necessary for accommodating multiple audiences both in-person and virtually with both web conferencing and lecture capture capabilities.
The rooms can still be used as traditional face-to-face classrooms or asynchronous spaces and have also been used for department meetings, bringing in high-profile guest speakers remotely, and other functions that would have normally required retrofitting the room or asking users to bring in their own equipment.
The university now has approximately 80 classrooms on campus designated as RebelFlex classrooms that accommodate multiple audiences in multiple locations. The classrooms are equipped with remote recorder appliances whose only job is to enable Panopto recordings, whether they are scheduled in advance or captured in an ad-hoc fashion. At the same time as classes are being recorded into Panopto, the session is also being hosted in a web conferencing platform, such as Webex.
“Every time a RebelFlex classroom is installed on campus, Panopto is part of it. It’s become a native piece of the puzzle to make sure that all those methods of learning can be established,” says Borts.
“In the way that our classrooms are designed, we’re able to provide flexibility for instruction in both the synchronous environment and the asynchronous environment thanks to Panopto being a part of it.”
In addition to supporting a flexible learning environment, Panopto addresses issues of content rights, security, and ownership that faculty have unexpectedly faced when using YouTube. “Many of them don’t realize what they’re getting into when they’re putting content on YouTube, and when we explain that to them they realize, ‘Maybe we should have been using Panopto all along,’” says Borts.
The high standard of customer service has made choosing and implementing Panopto a breeze. “Working with Panopto has been great, they really do set the gold standard for vendor support,” says Alethea Inns, Associate Instructional Technology Support Specialist. “I often say I wish all of our vendors could be as good as Panopto in terms of how responsive and available they are.”
“In the way that our classrooms are designed, we’re able to provide flexibility for instruction in both the synchronous environment and the asynchronous environment thanks to Panopto being a part of it.”Andy Borts, Senior Instructional Technology Support Specialist.
Since implementation, the popularity of Panopto at UNLV has soared. In 2018 the university had 20 rooms that had dedicated Panopto equipment. This number has since grown to 150 classrooms which have dedicated equipment for allowing instructors to record content into Panopto; 80 of which are RebelFlex, while the other 70 rooms are only equipped with Panopto lecture capture technology and have no web conferencing capability at all.
“Panopto has been one of our most popular services on campus, not just from the faculty perspective, but also from the student perspective. I think we can picture Panopto as a necessity, where in the past it might have been viewed as a luxury,” says Borts. “Most students will say they appreciate when their instructors are recording their content, whether it’s pre-recorded or they’re recording a live lecture. It’s become such a hit that it’s become a good player in any of the asynchronous opportunities that we are offering.”
Panopto has helped UNLV expand its educational possibilities, from providing faculty with the capability to record lectures and easily upload them to Canvas, to helping students submit assignments, to utilizing Panopto to onboard new staff and host student orientations.
“This is a necessary tool, and that’s how we were able to measure success. Even just hearing feedback from students and how much they benefit from having access to that content is eye-opening for us,” says Borts.
When it comes to accessibility, Panopto’s captioning feature has been a game-changer. Automatic captioning makes captioning videos effortless, while the ability to edit captions ensures higher accuracy. In addition, Panopto’s find and replace feature has made it easy for faculty and students to quickly customize each of the transcripts or captions as needed. “As accessibility becomes a vital part of educational experiences, the ability to caption and improved captioning capabilities allows us to do our job a lot better – and for our faculty and students to do their jobs a lot better, as well,” says Kasselhut.
From 2020 to 2021, UNLV saw an 8% increase in the usage of Panopto. “Across campus, UNLV has not only adopted, but embraced Panopto as a technology and the learning modalities it supports,” says Inns.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the usefulness of tools like Panopto – and they’re not going away.
“In addition to the reactions we’ve had to Panopto and the feedback we’ve gotten – all positive for everything that involves teaching and learning – it has really become part of our ecosystem, and a vital one at that,” says Borts.
UNLV now has a lot more departments that want to use Panopto for internal training. “As opposed to posting content elsewhere, [faculty] realized that we have an existing solution that can not only help them manage their content, but also give them more control over how they want to work with that content in the future,” says Borts.