3 Useful Features of Panopto

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If you’re not familiar, Panopto is a dedicated video platform that has a robust set of features to aid in teaching and learning.  It’s a generally great tool, and as a video delivery service, it works exceedingly well.  That said, there’s a lot more to Panopto than just a ‘YouTube for college campuses.’  Taking a dive into the features, here are a few that are particularly useful for pedagogical purposes, in no particular order.  

1) Captioning Features

Captioning is great!  Starting with accessibility, captioning is a feature that a surprising number of video services fail to deliver adequately on but that Panopto really does well.  With their automatic (ASR) captions, your videos will be more accessible for students from the start, as every single uploaded or recorded video is captioned with machine generated captioning in English.  With compelling data on how captioning can benefit all viewers, not just those with disabilities, it’s a solid plan to deliver your video content through Panopto for your courses.

But wait, there’s more!  Panopto also offers human captioning and translation services that can open even more doors.  The machine generated translations from Panopto are available in more than a dozen languages and can be setup to occur automatically for videos in a specific folder (let me know if you’d like to test this!).  For important evens or speakers, we also have an option for human transcription, which can take captions to 98-99% accuracy with the added ability to translate those captions via machine generated translation.  

2) Search

I think that perhaps the most important thing in Panopto is the search.  It’s ridiculously powerful.  Panopto has taken search to a new level by allowing you to search more than just titles and descriptions.  Using Optical Character Recognition (OCR), and machine-generated captioning (ASR) Panopto allows any user to search a video for things that are spoken or captured on screen (as in a word on a PowerPoint presentation).  If you think about the power of that, it’s a bit mind-boggling.  For that student that remembers that you lectured on that one topic at the beginning of the semester and made reference to Voltaire, they can search for that particular line in a recorded lecture and retrace their line of thinking.  Bonus here, they can also see from the iconography whether the searched reference was written on the slide, spoken in a caption, or part of a title of a video.

3) Stats

Panopto has nice, granular stats for those that are interested.  This, of course, is something to think about when creating content for consumption by a student audience.  Want to know the popular video within a course, take a look at the folder that contains your course videos (and I encourage you to setup one for each course) – the stats will highlight which videos are most watched, and give you insight into when and how videos are being viewed.  

A note here about pedagogical aims and stats though, while useful for some reasons, stats are not something that I’d consider for direct assessment.  Generally speaking the metrics are accurate, but odd browser settings, strange user behavior, and unstable connections can lead to a false picture of an individual’s viewership.  Stats are great to take in aggregate and help inform your pedagogy such as thinking about the ‘most rewatched clip’ or realizing that ‘I lost everyone at minute 43…’ Stats are not great for assigning students points for ‘completing’ a video.  Questions of access, equity, accessibility, and outcomes should be thoroughly considered when using stats.

Parting thoughts

While Panopto is full of tools and features, these are just a few of those that I find compelling to contemplate when thinking about instruction.  Do you have favorites?  Did I miss something that you’re interested in discussing?  Please let me know!  I’m always happy to discuss Panopto (and other tools that we support) and to think about how we can best apply them to meet instructional goals.

Andrew Smith