Earlier this month I spoke about mobile technologies and the use of video at Northampton as part of Panopto’s ‘Video, lecture capture and the student experience’ event. It was great to have the opportunity to contribute to the programme and it’s always a pleasure to meet with colleagues from other institutions so that we can share our experiences with Panopto.

What was really inspiring was hearing case studies and practical examples from many of my peers on how they are starting to move beyond using Panopto purely as lecture capture software to explore new uses for video. Of course, lecture capture is still the primary use for Panopto at most universities, but it was fascinating to see how video is being used in ever more inventive ways to transform teaching and learning and offer students a more engaging educational experience.

The session immediately before my own highlighted some of these emergent ways of integrating video into the classroom, from offering students video feedback on their assignments to using live broadcast to connect with distance learning students. There was also a lively discussion on using Panopto for developing student-generated content and this definitely chimed in with some of the things we are doing at Northampton.

In my own session I picked up on the theme of ‘students as content creators’ by giving the delegates a bit of an insight into how our School of Health is using Panopto’s iPad app to film students who are training to become paramedics so that their practical skills can be assessed. The nature of their course lends itself perfectly to video assessment, as it is crucial for them to be able to show that they can perform certain procedures, as opposed to merely writing about them. The fact that they can create recordings using a tablet or mobile device means that it’s even easier to simulate a scenario ‘in the field’ so to speak, and show how the students perform in the kind of environment they’d be working in after they graduate. From a teacher’s point of view, the recordings are incredibly useful in the moderation process – both internally and externally. The team also loves the fact that they can record from multiple angles and merge into the same recording, so that different views of the same procedure can be captured. This is a perfect example of how Panopto can be used with mobile technologies to facilitate the learning experience outside of the lecture theatre.

Another way we use Panopto that extends its use beyond lecture or classroom recording is what I affectionately call ‘sofacasting’! In essence, Panopto gives lecturers the flexibility to record their content from home if needs be, using whatever device is convenient – be it a laptop, an iPhone or an iPad. This was the case with one of our lecturers from the School of Education who couldn’t deliver one of his taught sessions live, so he recorded his lecture at home (though probably not from his sofa in reality!). This also has great potential to be used as a contingency plan when bad weather prevents lecturers from getting to campus, enabling them to deliver their classes wherever they are. As mobile delivery becomes more ubiquitous I’d expect an increase in this kind of ‘sofacasting’ approach which helps lecturers and students connect whatever their location.

There are many other ways we’re planning to use Panopto and other technologies to improve the student experience and I certainly took inspiration from some of the examples put forward by other institutions. I think one of the common threads that I saw running through a lot of the content – and which is certainly true for me – is that Panopto, and technology in general, prompts me to consider how I deliver content and more widely how our university delivers content. In my view, Panopto does not duplicate the lecture in recorded format, but actually challenges us to treat the live session as one thing, and the recorded element something else, different yet complementary. A question that I’d like to pose to other institutions is – what does Panopto encourage your academics to do differently?

I am proud of how Northampton is using tools like Panopto to support learning, and was pleased to be able to share some of our stories at the event and in this blog post. We do have the occasional technical hiccup understandably, but when I analyse views of our recordings, what our data clearly shows me is that we have a growth in use, more acceptance of blended learning and more innovation happening at ground-level. This can only be a good thing, for both students and academics.