Panopto Conference 2018

Over 300 delegates congregated in Euston earlier this week for this year’s Panopto conference with a theme of ‘Your Video Learning Ecosystem’.

Rachel opens the conference

Rachel  Avery (head of marketing) opens the conference

Panopto has been about since 2007 and now boasts 100 employees in six offices around the world with an audience of over 5 million. During that time UK HE has gone from promoting lecture capture, making it mandatory with opt out status, creating policies to support this, falling under fire during the pension strike last year and creeping towards an opt in system (explored at the recent UK HE user group). There now seems to be a period of rethinking video use in HE and some interesting questions surfacing around slick versus authentic content.

Rhizomes and the complex nature of learning

The opening keynote of the day was delivered by Dave Cormier (forever known as the man who coined the term MOOC). Dave explored the 3 categories of uncertainty in learning (based on the cylefin framework created by Dave Snowden).

Dave Cormier

Dave Cormier presents on active learning

  • SIMPLE – no subject expertise required – you can spend lots of money, the content won’t change
  • COMPLICATED – subject matter expertise needed, this requires a bigger video project
  • COMPLEX – can only work on part of the problem, disposable learning objects, don’t invest too much

Dave went on to explore if complex learning can be videoed using the analogy of rhizomes and rhizomatic learners (and Japanese knot weed!): ‘Rhizomes grow as networks of roots with no explicit center’, how do we let learners be like rhizomes? Educators should be the ecosystem you want to encourage.

Active learning

The follow up active learning session shared case studies outlined on the Panopto spinner (there were some great graphics at this conference!)


  • Steve Hiron, Department of Earth and Planetary Science, Birkbeck, University of London shared their experience of formative assessment in geology when students recorded their descriptions of rocks and uploaded then to a folder in moodle. The case study is outlined in the the Bloomsbury ebook.
  • Steve Collender, Multimedia Coordinator, Diploma Centre, Law Society of Ireland talked about their use of Panopto to host and livestream videos for their MOOCs.
  • William Seagrim, Lecturer, School of Law and Politics, Cardiff University who leads a professional ethics course on a Bar professional training course presented a great scenario based use case. In an attempt to make the course more engaging they employed an actor and filmed a series of scenarios with questionable ethics. William acted the role of a ‘talking head tutor’ and then played out an approach to how the ethical issues could be dealt with. There were also multiple choice questions embedded. You can see an example from the course on YouTube.
  • Katie Barnes, Advanced Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at Alder Hey hospital looked at their use of a non-educational pipeline to deliver training through shared resources

Authenticity vs Facade

Post coffee break there were a series of talks looking at recent evolutions in the video ecosystem. Ines Dawson, PhD student at the University of Oxford and YouTuber (the amazing Draw Curiosity) gave some ideas on how video can make us better teachers. She discussed academics and students’ fear of making mistakes and the need to own these mistakes: perfectionism in academia = fear of failure = procrastination.  Ines also talked about move towards ephemeral video (though Instagram stories) as the younger generation show a preference for authenticity over facade.

This discussion carried on in to the fireside talk between Eric Burns, CEO Panopto and Simon Clark vlogger and video creator. Simon discussed the need to consume a lot to create (he watches up to 10 hours of video a day!) and the move away from the infallible educator or ‘sage on the stage’ to ‘content created by stage’ and a rise in live streaming, through services like Twitch. Twitch is a live streaming video platform and a subsidiary of Amazon. Simon’s advice to potential YouTube vloggers is to be yourself, don’t take the real you out of the picture. Perhaps the element HE can take from this is that ‘the most engaging content is not always the content with the highest production value’.

Fireside talk between Eric Burn and Simon Clark

Fireside talk between Eric Burn and Simon Clark

The morning closed with a look at the top challenges facing those working with Panopto based on the community survey and led by Debra Garretson, Director of Accounts at Panopto. The biggest challenges include:

  • Staff digital literacy – Jennie White, University of Chichester suggested we offer bite size chunks for our academics to try out (micro-lecturers, use video for assessment- get students to assess content themselves, try live marking, create pop up studios etc.)
  • Student digital Literacy – Lucy Atkins, form De Montfort University shared her research and DigiLit work.

In the afternoon there were some great breakout sessions looking at teaching and learning aspects of Panopto and the technical set up. Some take aways for me were:

  • How do you assess the impact of TEL? Some institutions like Newcastle University have been doing a lot of work with their statistics and are including lecture capture in module dashboards. Other institutions (University  of Wolverhampton) shared some interesting insights into how their video is being used (more usage if content is embedded in a page). Imperial College has attempted to assess and share best practice through the Active Learning summer challenge  – it is incredibly difficult to measure what makes good active learning!
  • Accessibility – Can be a real driver for video but also has its challenges e.g. the new accessibility regulations. Tools like Verbit (captioning) are starting to be used more.
  • Distance learning  and partner delivery- At Edinburgh Napier university they may be using Panopto to replace their ‘flying faculty’ for courses in Singapore by using live recordings or narrated slides. They are currently considering how to capture student’s questions by filming the existing cohort. There are also cultural and language issues to consider.
  • Variety of uses – Loughborough university shared some non-academic use cases: external lectures, capture sessions for prospective and pre-arrival students, lecture capture for elite athletes
Mixed media learning model from the University of Wolverhampton

Mixed media learning model from the University of Wolverhampton

The day closed with a presentation from Eric Burns, co-founder and CEO of Panopto that considered some current meaty issues: net neutrality, the unequal web, control of the web by big companies.  He used the “if you are not paying for the product you are the product” idea to advocate for academic freedom and academic integrity. Eric feels these ‘good’ values will be supported by the release of Panopto Pro – a way to share content with those who do not pay for Panopto in a controlled way. Panopto’s heart seems to be in the right place, or maybe that’s the drinks reception wine talking?! What is clear is that the video ecosystem is a continually shifting environment.

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