Going beyond the Lecture Recording Policy – Panopto as an inclusive system

By Matt Howcroft – Learning Technologist and Associate Lecturer, School of Arts

The University of Derby has had a lecture Recording policy for a few years. This policy states ‘To ensure a high-quality student experience, digital recording technology is to be used to record all appropriate teaching sessions, making sessions more accessible for all students.’ However, what does it all mean in practical terms, and how can the system we use to record our lectures (Panopto) be that and so much more.

In this short article, I am putting the specifics of the University of Derby’s Lecture Recording policy to one side and focussing on the benefit of session recording to a student. I will also look at alternative ways of getting the most out of the Panopto recording system and why I feel it is the right tool for the job.

Before I start, I want to let you know I have worked at the university for nearly fifteen years (I know I do not look like it). Panopto and recording lectures have been a large part of my working life – not just as a trainer and a developer but also as an associate lecturer in the School of Arts. Hopefully, this will allow me to have an objective point of view.

First and foremost, pressing record on the Panopto system and recording learning content with an audio narrative, in or out of the classroom environment, is beneficial to all students. Having the ability to rewatch, search and find the bits they have missed or replay the bit they are unsure of, with that bonus insight of the lecturer talking around that content (putting meat on the bones, as they say), is the best possible outcome. Of course, we need to think about certain situations before we record, like is the content appropriate to be recorded. Is there sensitive content that you are not sure should be recorded?

A recording in Panopto is as secure as other materials on Blackboard. The ones who need access will have the ability to and no one else. However, if students do share sensitive/personal information, be aware of when you need to stop or pause the recording (or edit it before sharing) and always let your student know you are recording the sessions.

So, breaking down what gets recorded in Panopto is impressive (Sorry, I don’t get out much).

  • Audio, the spoken word
  • The Webcam in the room (if you choose to have it on)
  • The Presentation screen (simple Screen capture)
  • The PowerPoint slides as a separate entity, which includes:
    • A clickable time-stamped thumbnail image of each slide which takes the student to that point in the recording.
    • The title of each slide – also clickable to help the student navigate through
    • The text in each slide – recorded and searchable, giving the students another way to find the relevant information.
    • An automatically created searchable transcript.
  • Automated captions – an automatically created transcript is generated along with editable captions, so if it mistakenly picks up the wrong words, you can edit it.
  • A second USB camera. A Visualiser, another Webcam, or even a USB microscope could record through Panopto.

There are other features, like recognising YouTube links in your PowerPoint and adding them to the recording and time-stamped note-taking that you can share with your peers. 

One difficulty I have when it comes to recording is when and where to use it. As an Associate Lecturer in the School of Art, I spend a lot of my time in a studio environment as what I teach is very practical and applied, but that does not translate well through a recording. What I found beneficial for myself, and the students are creating recordings that complement the practical sessions. These recordings are short clips (5-10 minutes long) going over what we went through in the practical session and the expectations for the next session. It works particularly well when I run weekly projects, which involve the students working in groups, planning a shoot one week and shooting it the next. The week after, the students edit the previous shoot and plan the next one. I create a quick recording that goes through what they did and what they need to do before the following session, which helps with the planning. It also makes the session more applied and industry-focused. I try to do this quickly after the session, directly to my laptop. I then post it in an announcement in the module giving the students access to it as soon as it is ready.

Panopto’s web access also allows me to upload other videos that I can use in my teaching. For example, If I decide, while in the studio, that I want to film a technique or record a message, I can record it through my iPad or my phone and upload it through the Lecture Recording folder in the module and give students direct access to it. This approach has been particularly useful when I need to remind them of something or send quick tips and techniques that emerged following the session.

Finally, I would encourage colleagues to treat Panopto as an effective, time-saving tool for yourself and your students, as it is so much more than just a lecture recording tool.  

If you are a colleague at the University of Derby and would like to know more about the different elements mentioned in this article, please see our Panopto or Lecture Recording guides, or attend one of our DELTA: Digital development sessions.