Panopto Captures Iowa State
Today's students are different from those that have come before them. They're wired (and wireless), connected, and electronically social. They're used to on-demand access to information at any time of the day or night; learning and consuming information when it fits into their schedules. And as a university, we've had to find ways to meets those requirements.
One tool to do that is classroom capture technology. Instructors can record class sessions and post them for students to view, review, and study. Short supplemental recordings can also be made right at the instructor's desk and added to online courses, web pages, and blog posts. All the student needs is an internet connection and a web browser to view the material at any time. By pre-recording a presentation and asking students to view it prior to meeting, the instructor can leverage class time into more collaborative, learner-centered activities, such as discussion, small group projects, and focused exploration of difficult topics.
At Iowa State, the centrally-supported system we use for this is called Panopto. It's a software-based package that runs on laptops, desktops, and classroom computers to record voice, webcam video, and anything that appears on the computer screen. It creates a rich-media interface that includes all the elements and also creates additional audio and videos files that can be used on mobile devices or linked into sharing sites like iTunes U.
Iowa State began using Panopto during the fall semester of 2010; choosing it after consultation with faculty, staff, and the broader university community. We worked closely with the Community of Educational Technology Support (ComETS) to determine what features we would need and what the faculty and students would expect from a classroom capture system. Based on those discussions, a Request for Proposal (RFP) was generated and Panopto was chosen as the only system that met all the required and desired functions.
Today, just one year after the soft rollout, Panopto has become an important and growing part of learning and teaching at Iowa State. The main server is a virtual machine hosted by Information Technology Services and encompasses six processors, four Gigabytes of RAM, and four Terabytes of storage. There are about 175 classes with content on Panopto and about 1600 individual recordings. Nearly 3500 people have viewed at least one recorded session and about 150 faculty and staff are using the system to create content. All told, there are nearly 1600 hours, or 1.5 Terabytes, of recorded material.
As Panopto matures, innovative and creative faculty and staff are finding more and more ways to make use of it. Distance education, class projects, extended content for advanced learners, and stand-ins for face-to-face software training are just some of the ways it's helping to expand education at Iowa State.