Excellence in education attracts Portugal’s brightest students to the University of Porto. Over its century-long history, the school has established a track record of leadership in learning innovation.
The Pedagogical Innovation and Educational Technologies Unit, with deep expertise in educational design, multimedia resources, and emerging learning technologies, had an ambitious vision: to make video a core element of the academic experience at the University.
But attaining this goal required a much more streamlined, versatile, and easy-to-use video management system. Under Instructional Designer and E-learning Specialist Nuno Regadas, staff members were all too familiar with the shortcomings of the older video management system in place in 2014. Its complexity deterred users and resulted in limited adoption across the Porto campus.
Regadas knew that for the University to tap the full potential of video as an instructional strategy, barriers had to be removed.
Based on the success of a small pilot project, the Educational Technologies team selected Panopto and implemented it in 2015. The platform integrated seamlessly with other technologies already in place, in particular the University’s learning management system, Moodle.
From 2015 to 2020, the tech team managed a new influx of users, with 25% year-over-year growth. Faculty often started by making short videos, such as explaining a specific learning point or answering common questions, so students could reinforce their understanding of the material as needed. This enabled instructors to better allocate their time.
Another important application was assisting students with disabilities. Panopto offered a way for students who were unable to attend in person to take classes remotely. In the 2017-18 school year, Regadas’ team launched a pilot project at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities for a student with disabilities. The project used iPads and remote recorders to capture on video all of the student’s classes. That produced 85 videos totaling nearly 142 hours.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, the University of Porto went into lockdown along with the rest of the world, and having Panopto in place was an enormous advantage. The solution’s ease of use enabled instructors to be largely self-sufficient, facilitating the massive ramp-up in video recording that the crisis required. The number of videos viewed and downloaded jumped 10-fold between the first seven months of the school year and the period after lockdown. In the final 4.5 months of the school year, just under 1 million views and downloads took place compared to 86,000 between September 2019 and March 11, 2020.
“Video will be one of the most important tools to help the University of Porto reach new target audiences. Online courses or courses that are blended learning, with both onsite and online classes, will be more prevalent in the future.”Nuno Regadas, Instructional Designer and E-learning Specialist - University of Porto
The University of Porto expects continued growth for video technology led by Panopto. “We see a new era of teaching and learning innovation in which video plays a central role, driven by Panopto,” Regadas says.
One emerging application is the use of video to serve nontraditional students such as working adults and lifelong learners. “Video will be one of the most important tools to help the University of Porto reach new target audiences,” Regadas says. “Online courses or courses that are blended learning, with both onsite and online classes, will be more prevalent in the future.”
Porto’s professors are also embracing Panopto for flipped courses, using the platform to create and share videos that enable students to learn key material in advance of class sessions. And students are adopting video to submit work, make presentations, and demonstrate their progress in learning.
As a center of scientific research, the University of Porto puts innovation at the core of its mission. Now, that same pioneering spirit has made it a frontrunner in the world of video-enhanced education.