Earlier today, I headed along to the recently refurbished room, 4 East 2.4, for a demonstration of the Panopto Coursecast Live Broadcast functionality.
This approach is due to be used during the 2010/11 as a means of coping with larger cohorts which are unable to be located within a single room during a lecture. During this, the majority of students will be located in a given teaching space, with a smaller number located nearby in another room, where a live broadcast of the lecture will take place.
Attended by a range of colleagues from across the university campus, members of the Audio Visual unit led by Sacha Goodwin, AV Recorded Media Production Manager, gave a demonstration of a Live Broadcast. With Sacha demo-ing teaching from 241-seater the Arts Lecture Theatre, members of staff watched proceedings from another part of the university campus. The image on the right gives an idea of what audience members saw – click on it to enlarge.
A wide ranging discussion took place over the course of the 30 minute session, and some of the key items coverd are summarised below.
However, it should be stressed that whilst Panopto has been moved to a production server, it is still an ongoing project, where the Audio Visual unit are in constant liaison with the Panopto people in the US to improve performance, and find permanent solutions to some of the issues identified below.
- There is no significant additional overhead for any lecturer engaging in a Panopto live broadcast, aside from  ensuring that they are using a lapel microphone, and  they use the visualiser (if required) rather than a chalkboard.
- There is a 3-5 second delay between items being changed on screen – for example, slide transitions and web pages – to them appearing in the broadcast room. As such, the audio can often be out of sync with what appears on screen. [This is not ideal when showing any material from YouTube, for example]
- The PC in 4 East 2.4 went to sleep during the demonstration lecture, so the time lapse for the screen saver to activate due to no PC activity should be increased.
- Some of the items displayed on the visualiser did not come out as clearly as expected over the broadcast – in particular, some of the annotation of diagrams using a normal biro and text on web pages. Using a thicker pen, as well as adjusting the zoom on the visualiser, was suggested.
Things to keep in mind
- Even if you are in a teaching room with dual projection capabilities, the lecturer will only be able to display one item in the larger Panopto box area [see image above].
- Rather than use a chalkboard, lecturers should use a visualiser instead. Not only will the material be easier for those in the lecture theatre to see, those in the overflow room will be able to see it too. Additionally, anything displayed via the visualiser, will be captured as part of the Panopto recording.
- In the overflow room, another member of staff needs to be present (at least at the beginning of a lecture) to log on to the PC (using an AV-issued generic username), open up a web browser and launch the Panopto Live Broadcast.
- Items highlighted by laser pointers in the lecture theatre will not be broadcast. In these cases, it would be best to draw attention to such items using a (normal) mouse pointer.
It was great to see the Panopto Live Broadcast functionality, in particular, to begin to identify its potential for use in a learning and teaching context. Over the course of the next academic year, I intend to follow up with colleagues who will be using Panopto to capture their teaching and disseminate via this blog.
But in the meantime, if you’d like further information on Classroom Technologies, or would like to use it to enhance your learning and teaching related activities, please contact me at email@example.com.