Skip to main content

Panopto First Impressions from NC State Faculty

Empty NC State classroom with green seats.
Photo by Becky Kirkland.

As the spring semester progresses, we are getting closer to Panopto‘s launch as NC State’s enterprise video management system. Beginning in May 2021, faculty, staff and students will gain access to Panopto’s innovative features, including Moodle integration, robust analytics and editing tools, interactive quizzing and more. 

Whether you’re eager to use Panopto or wary of change, DELTA will be on your side throughout the transition. Just ask Panopto early access users, a group of faculty from across the university who have been exploring Panopto and its capabilities on a preliminary test basis. Since January, they have incorporated Panopto in their courses, communicated with students through the platform in various ways and honed their skills in the technology. Now, they’re sharing their first impressions. 

Associate Teaching Professor Carlos Goller and Assistant Teaching Professor Claire Gordy are using Panopto collaboratively in BIT 480/580: Yeast Metabolic Engineering eight-week lab module. Gordy is also using Panopto to create content for GN 312: Elementary Genetics Laboratory and GN 421/521: Molecular Genetics. Associate Teaching Professor Melissa Ramirez leverages Panopto in her biological science courses, and Associate Professor Michael H. Reiskind is getting to know Panopto’s capabilities as he teaches his students about entomology and plant pathology. Professor Martin Hubbe is still looking forward to incorporating Panopto in his courses, and Lynn Rasmussen is testing Panopto’s capabilities as an IT analyst. 

In What Ways Have You Used Panopto in Your Course(s) So Far?

Goller: We have used Panopto to start discussions. We told students about the discussion and notes features and told them to introduce themselves. It worked! We love that feature. Also, we have been using the Panopto captioning service and are impressed by how quickly the turnaround is. It is wonderful and accurate.

Gordy: I am using Panopto to create content for three courses this semester. I am using it slightly differently in each class, but in general, I am using it to create active learning experiences in online asynchronous courses. The course that utilizes Panopto the most is GN 421/521: Molecular Genetics, with roughly 120 students. Each week, students copy a Google Doc containing a guided notes template that is paired with a series of short Panopto videos. The lessons are structured as Guided Inquiry Learning activities interspersed with mini-lectures; students are asked to work through a short activity in their notes, and then answer questions in Panopto or share their thoughts or raise questions using the Panopto discussion feature before watching the next part of the video.

Ramirez: So far, I have used Panopto to break up videos that I already have by putting interactive questions into them. There are other ways to do this in Camtasia, or using PlayPosit or H5P, but Panopto has made this way easier to do.

What Features Do You Use the Most?

Gordy: The captioning feature is superb. Accessibility is critical, and the auto-captions in Panopto are far superior to those in YouTube. Additionally, editing the auto-captions for accuracy is much easier to do in Panopto than in YouTube, and it is straightforward to give access to teaching assistants to help with the caption editing.

The threaded discussion feature is something I have not seen with any other content creation system, and is something that had never occurred to me before. I am using it in two main ways: 

  1. Encouraging students to use it to ask clarifying questions that are linked directly to the time point in the lecture where they were confused and can be answered by me or a TA in a way that is visible to the whole class –– just like if we were together in person!
  2. Using it for discussion prompts that would have been a minute paper or think-pair-share exercise in a face-to-face class. 

The table of contents feature, and the ability to search within a video for a specific word and find the correct point in the video to relisten to a confusing concept, are ones that my students and TAs have expressed is extremely valuable to them. To quote a TA: “What is this video system you’re using, and why aren’t all my professors using it?”

Ramirez: I like the AI-captured transcripts a lot. They are pretty good! And they are very easy to edit.

Rasmussen: Mostly the easy ability to integrate other media like quizzes and the easy editing functions.

What About Panopto Most Interests or Excites You?

Goller: I’m excited that Panopto is accessible and mobile-friendly. I’m excited to use Panopto more often in courses to have students discuss videos and produce their own! I am excited about the Moodle integration too!

Gordy: Its intuitiveness and flexibility. Panopto provides so many layers of choice –– both on the instructor side and the student side. I can choose what to record (screen, face, both), I can choose where to integrate questions and what happens after the students answer a question. Students can choose how and where to watch the video (Moodle, on the Panopto website, or in the app on a device –– and all of these options work well), they can choose whether they want to see the discussion or table of contents, or focus on the slides, they can choose whether they want to take private notes on the video or notes that are shared with their classmates. I also love the detailed statistics –– I can track how many minutes of video streaming have happened across all of my videos. I can see which students have watched the video, how much of the video they watched, and whether they left comments in the discussion feature. I have a much better sense of how quickly or slowly the class as a whole is moving through the lecture material.

Ramirez: My favorite part of Panopto is how easy it is to use. I also really love the discussion feature that captures questions or discussions that students are having while they watch. I think this could be a really powerful tool to use in online courses.

Rasmussen: [I enjoy] the ability to do it all myself without having to ask someone else to do things for me. 

What About Panopto Do You Find Most Challenging? 

Hubbe: Of course, since the system is not yet fully developed in [WolfWare], one has to kind of learn from the Panopto Early Access Google Group how to use the system. It will be much easier to get started in the future once the system is fully installed and there are “starter courses.”

Reiskind: Knowing all the functionalities of the editor and being able to coordinate different streams into a single, finished product.

Are You Likely to Continue Using Panopto? 

Goller: YES! I want to transition to Panopto videos instead of creating YouTube channels. I hope to use the captioning service and discussion features more. 

Gordy: Absolutely. I am really happy with the way I am using Panopto this semester. In the future, I hope to continue working on how to best use the discussion feature.

Hubbe: I expect to be using it for the next 10 or so years.

Reiskind: Yes, to update lectures. Possibly using the quiz functions during lectures in a more interactive way and for assessment.

What Is Your Advice for Faculty Using Panopto for the First Time?

Goller: Try it! You’ll love it! Don’t be afraid to explore!

Gordy: Don’t get overwhelmed with all of the features. Make a short video of yourself just for practice, and then go in to edit it, and play with everything –– quizzes, captions, etc. Then share it with a few colleagues and practice using the discussion feature together. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to go into the statistics and explore the information that’s available to you. 

Reiskind: The help videos from Panopto are pretty good!

If you are interested in becoming a Panopto early access user, please complete the early access interest form. You can also get ready with some helpful resources and training opportunities from Panopto Support and DELTA, including basic training webinars and DELTA’s Panopto Overview. If you can’t make a webinar or workshop, view a recording of a previous webinar, browse Panopto’s library of training videos, or read DELTA’s articles detailing some of Panopto’s best features. 

Correction: This article originally stated that Panopto is freeware, not a commercial product. This is incorrect. We have corrected the article and apologize for any confusion.