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Standardizing and Scaling the Use of Video at the University of Arizona

Apr 01, 2019, by Mark Felix
Tags: Internet2 NET+, Panopto, Video, Voice & Collaboration

By Mark Felix, Director of Instructional Support at the University of Arizona

In the last year, University of Arizona students watched more than 270,000 hours of academic video content, including recorded lectures, flipped classroom presentations, and assignments recorded by their peers. This reflects an institutional culture in which video has become a vital adjunct to traditional lecture-based pedagogy. Over the last few years, changes in our approach to video management, and the adoption of a standardized platform now available to Internet2 connected higher education institutions through the NET+ program, have enabled us to achieve this scale and more effectively serve the needs of our students, faculty, and staff.

Initially, our approach to video grew out of the departmental autonomy that we share with many other large institutions. Individual departments identified a need for video, and then evaluated and implemented tools to meet that need. This led to a patchwork of solutions that satisfied needs at a departmental level, but introduced inefficiencies across our institution and a fragmented student experience.

This approach required several support teams, all with different reporting lines, to learn and support multiple solutions to what was effectively a single challenge — capturing and managing academic video. The process of documenting, managing, and fielding support tickets for duplicative solutions reduced our productivity and slowed our response time to our campus community. 

For students, the use of different video solutions created an inconsistent and unnecessarily complex learning experience. Students would have to learn the unique capabilities of multiple video systems for watching academic recordings. And since most students rely on their phones as a primary video playback device, they would often have to download multiple video platform apps or in some cases be unable to use a mobile device. 

Based on these challenges, we decided to look for a solution that could standardize video management across campus. 

Criteria for a Campus-Wide Video Solution

We began with a video technology needs assessment. The University Information Technology Services team assembled stakeholders from around campus to better understand how each department had been using video, what features faculty and students relied on, and what new potential uses instructors might have for the technology. From there it was a question of finding a tool that would meet our requirements:

  • A software solution we could deploy in all of our more than 500 classrooms and lecture halls
  • Flexible recording and editing software that would make it easy for faculty to record their own videos
  • A secure web-based video library that would make it possible to watch videos from anywhere and on any device
  • Integration with our Brightspace LMS
  • Support for captioning and video accessibility
  • Responsive customer support to help us implement the video platform 

After a thorough evaluation process, we selected Panopto.

Implementing the Video Platform

After deploying Panopto, we established a bi-weekly training session open to anyone on campus. This provided faculty and department facilitators an open door for learning how to use Panopto and for getting their questions answered. Compared to the individual support each department required previously, we found supporting a single, centralized video platform to be substantially more efficient and effective.

In addition, we created specialized training for faculty looking to use video to flip their classrooms or offer other blended learning experiences. And we ramped up the number of staff who knew how to use Panopto so that support was always close at hand. 

Finally, we made use of Panopto’s online support documentation and wrote
training materials of our own that aligned with our unique systems and processes.

Video at Scale

Over the last few years, we’ve deployed lecture capture at massive scale across our campus.

Over the course of the last year, we’ve recorded nearly 30,000 hours of video content. During that same time, our students have watched nearly 270,000 hours of video — studying for tests, catching up on classes, and personalizing their learning experience.

For us, the move to a unified video platform has had a number of benefits. Our support staff are more productive with only a single solution to manage and document. Our faculty get faster and more consistent service. And students get access to video-based learning in more classes through a consistent interface.

Vetting the Internet2 NET+ Panopto Offering

More recently, we reviewed Panopto a second time as a member of Internet2, vetting the platform against the Internet2 NET+ service validation process. During the process, we confirmed that Panopto met a diverse set of requirements for functionality, security, accessibility, compliance, network architecture, and legal terms. As a result of this two-year long validation process that included us and four other universities, Panopto can now be procured through the Internet2 NET+ program. To learn more about this offering, visit https://www.internet2.edu/products-services/cloud-services-applications/panopto/