Panopto lecture capture

I’ve recently been experimenting with using lecture capture – in this case, Panopto which the University of Birmingham has a licence to.  It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for ages, but haven’t quite managed to make the time for.  I’ve been kicked into action this term following two events:

  1. The launch of FindIt@Bham, our new resource discovery service
  2. A library induction session where the lectern PC wouldn’t boot up.

In the case of the former, a group of NewT members are taking the lead on creating a whole new suite of short training materials to promote FindIt@Bham.  These will include things like:

  • What are journal articles and how do I find them?
  • How do I reserve a Store item?
  • How do I find databases in my subject area?
  • How do I search for a book?

These are all short videos, no more than 3 minutes long.  They’re designed pretty much as FAQs and should help with short subject enquiries and be a useful resource for both our Subject Teams and Library Customer Support.

In the second case, the students I saw for the induction were very new to the University and were mostly coming back to education after a long period in the working world.  Without a PC in the induction, I was only able to talk them through the real basics of Library Services (loan periods and so on) and couldn’t demonstrate key systems like FindIt@Bham, our student portal and the VLE.  Without live demos, I would have had to either reschedule the session, which is challenging with distance and/or part-time learners or seen many of the students individually, which is definitely not desirable with a group of 40+!

By using Panopto, I was able to record all the demos I would have used in the induction session and circulated the resulting lecture capture to students; I also embedded it in the relevant area of the VLE for them to refer back to. The administrative and teaching staff were really positive about it.

What I like about it

Panopto is incredibly easy to use.  Once you’ve got yourself signed up as a Panopto creator and downloaded the software, you’re ready to go.

It records Powerpoint, live screen demos, voiceover and even a talking head should you want it.  I haven’t used this as I don’t think there’s a need for students to associate me with the content, in these instances anyway.  I’ve also had it suggested to me that if you do use a webcam to record yourself, it tends to take longer to produce whilst you adjust to seeing yourself on screen.

What I’ve learnt

One thing I have learnt is that you need to change the frame rate to the maximum frames per second, otherwise you end up with screencast that doesn’t quite capture everything you’re doing on screen.  I’ve encountered similar issues with other screen capture software such as CamStudio.

Short learning objects work best.  For my induction students, I did a 10 minute demo of everything I would have shown them in the lecture.  For the FindIt lecture captures, we’re sticking to around 3 minutes.  I’ve also heard it advised (by Phil Ackroyd at the JISC Innovating eLearning Conference in 2011) that you should always tell students how long a lecture capture is so they know the time commitment they’re making.

We’ve had some interesting discussions round the issue of copyright too and this is something we need to take forward as an institution.  Namely, if we’re showing provider content (e.g. journal homepages) and making the video publicly available on our website, then should we be asking providers for permission to do so?  As it’s all publicity, one would imagine that publishers will be perfectly happy with this situation.  In fact, all the publishers approached so far have granted their approval, and some are particularly excited by new means of promoting their material.  However, under the strict terms of copyright law, we’re currently treading quite carefully.

What am I going to do next?

Well, one of my thoughts is to start doing ‘flipped’ learning.  Lots of my sessions with students are fairly short and l might only see them once.  I like the thought of releasing a lecture capture prior to my session and then using the face-to-face time to test them using Turning Point quizzes/group work/sample literature searches and so on.  It’s definitely something I’ll be considering for next year.

Finally, here’s a link to a sample Panopto lecture capture demonstrating our new resource discovery system, FindIt@Bham:

Post by: Sarah Pittaway

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