The team at the Virtual Campus Rhineland-Palatinate (VCRP) is always exploring ways in which technology can be used to help its member institutions enhance teaching and learning. VCRP’s Technical Specialist Christopher Marx and his colleagues set out to find new technology-enhanced learning approaches to widen the range of teaching scenarios open to their members and make study options more interesting and engaging for students.
They wanted to combine the idea of physical presence with online teaching, and video seemed to offer interesting possibilities for them to do so. They were also keen to encourage their member institutions to embrace open approaches to knowledge sharing and wanted the chance for institutions to be able to exchange learning videos, creating Open Educational Resources for their region. As a result, they began looking for a way they could provide a video platform that would be centrally managed by VCRP, but could still be used independently by each individual institution in any way that worked for them.
“We began looking for a video platform that offered all the core functionality we were expecting – that is to say, recording, editing, sharing and uploading options,” explained Mr Marx. “We also wanted the platform to be flexible and user-friendly to make it as easy as possible for lecturers to get started with video. Finally, it was also really important for us to find a single, software-based platform that would offer all of this in-built functionality, but which could also store existing high-end videos that had been created using other tools.”
There were also some critical technical considerations for the VCRP team. First, they wanted to be able to deploy the solution on-premises. Second, they needed the platform to be software only, as this would allow their member universities the freedom to either use their existing hardware or to purchase whatever tools would work best in their own institution. Third, they also needed to be able to offer a multi-tenanted deployment for their universities.
After reviewing the video platform solutions available on the market, VCRP chose Panopto. Why? As Mr Marx put it, “Panopto is user-friendly, looks modern for end-users, and covered all our requirements.”
Having chosen Panopto as their overall video platform, VCRP implemented the solution with the cooperation of Johannes-Gutenberg University Mainz, using a multi-tenanted approach. This meant that each of VCRP’s university members would be able to have its own instance of Panopto, thereby allowing every university to share videos exclusively with its own students as well as to opt to share specific videos with a wider audience or other universities in the region.
To begin engaging with member universities to drive the uptake of video, VCRP contacted every member institution to let them know Panopto was available to them. Each university was encouraged to nominate one or two members of staff to lead Panopto implementation and adoption, and these staff members all received training from Panopto to help them get to grips with the system. This face-to-face training was complemented by follow-up webinars and workshops.
“Panopto covers the complete video workflow from production to editing and from management to distribution – all in a simple way. This has allowed us to easily implement a range of scenarios at our various
universities to provide our students with the best possible video-based teaching experiences.”
VCRP encourages a range of uses for video amongst its member universities, from lecture recording to creating video tutorials to build on themes covered in lectures. Traditionally, lecture capture involves recording and sharing the lecture in its entirety. However, their member universities are also using the in-built Panopto editor to break complete lectures up into smaller, bite-sized learning resources of around 10-20 minutes. Many institutions are also creating even shorter 3-5 minute tutorials which complement the material covered in the lecture and provide deeper insights into specific topics or themes.
Others are using Panopto for flipped learning, student recording for self-reflection, and the creation of marketing videos. Live streaming has become another important use case at many institutions. This includes streaming lectures into overflow classrooms when courses are oversubscribed, live broadcasting university events, and running webinar-style content.
VCRP itself now runs its annual LMS Conference as a virtual event, powered by Panopto and live-streamed from different campus locations. Altogether, VCRP has overseen the creation of a large body of video content with Panopto. In total so far their member universities have created 11,200 videos and video content has received more than 560,000 views.