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Strategies for Moving to a Unified Academic Video Platform

The advantages of a centralized campus media solution
University Business, June 2017
Like many institutions, Yale University first adopted academic video at a departmental level. This proved the potential of video as a study aid, but also created a number of challenges, including requiring administrators to maintain a complex web of disconnected media storage solutions, and forcing students to learn multiple systems for accessing their recorded lessons. As video became an increasingly relied-upon pedagogical tool for both online and on-campus learning, it was determined that the university should transition to a unified media platform. 

In this web seminar, presenters discussed some of the advantages of moving to a unified media platform across campus, and the seven elements identified by a Yale working group as essential requirements for an academic video platform to be effective at an institution.

John Harford
Manager of Collaboration Technologies
Yale University

Ari Bixhorn
VP of Technical Evangelism

Ari Bixhorn: In conversations with academic institutions, I consistently hear about three trends driving the decision to centralize video platform investments.

The first trend is that video is being used in more ways across the institution today than it ever had been in the past. The initial use case is typically lecture capture, which is fairly prevalent across campuses—between 60 percent and 80 percent of colleges and universities in the U.S. have deployed it to some degree.

Beyond lecture capture, there are often three or more additional use cases for video. The flipped classroom is almost always included in this list because video is the centerpiece of flipped learning. Over the last few years, as interest in the flipped class pedagogy has increased, interest in using video platforms has followed suit.

Other uses for video that have become more mainstream in recent years include student assignments and live streaming. Recorded student assignments provide a practical, engaging way for students to apply what they’ve learned, particularly in graduate and professional degree programs. And live streaming facilitates distance education while also enabling students, friends and families to participate virtually in campus events.

The second trend driving the centralization of video investments is a shift from departmental deployments to campuswide adoption. More than three-quarters of our customers now have campuswide licenses for our video platform, and many of those started as smaller, departmental engagements. 

This shift from departmental to campuswide deployments has been driven by three things:

  • Organic growth in video demand across departments. We often see a pull effect, in which faculty or staff in other departments request access to a video platform once it’s been adopted by their peers. 
  • The increasing using of cloud-based video platforms. These simplify campuswide deployments and reduce the operational costs of ongoing maintenance and upgrades.
  • The need for greater procurement and operational efficiency. Centralized purchasing provides institutions with economies of scale, and centralized management reduces the operational costs of administering the technologies.

 The third trend driving centralization is that technical requirements for video platforms have evolved. As institutions increasingly deploy video as a campuswide utility, the requirements for capabilities like LMS integration, scalability, hands-free video capture and multi-camera recording become more stringent. And for universities like Yale that had multiple video solutions, this evolving set of requirements often leads to a desire to consolidate.

John Harford: Our migration to Panopto came about from a committee’s findings that one of the pain points at the university was not having a central repository for sharing video files.

One of the big problems was the lack of cross-course sharing and reuse of these assets. Professors wanted to create content the way they’d like to create it, and they wanted to share it with faculty down the hall, or share it with another department, and they wanted to do that easily and securely. That encapsulated the core of what we were looking for in a video platform for Yale.

We had a lot requirements listed out, and ease of use was No. 1—we saw that as essential for any platform to function. It’s about the user experience and it’s about whether people will adopt this tool and if it will solve their needs.

We consolidated our list down to seven requirements: LMS integrations, content and curation, accessibility, live streaming, video search, ease of use, and responsiveness of support. Another big requirement was that we wanted to move to a cloud system. A lecture capture server that is on-premises is susceptible to outages or maintenance windows. We wanted a more robust system that we didn’t have to worry about maintaining and updating.

We went through a selection of vendors, which was a long, exhaustive process. We selected Panopto. In the spring of 2016 we went through a pilot, with a faculty usability group, working group, local administrators, big involvement and a long test on all of the elements. It went very, very well. We integrated the LTI and had a full, rich, deep pilot with a lot of users touching the system. Then we had to move fast because we had to migrate all of our assets to Panopto, and we had one summer to do it.

We decided to do a manual migration. We also had to create a support structure, which we basically modeled on some of our other services: We had a website, phones and a walk-in service at the Center for Teaching and Learning. We also had a strong partnership with our IT department, and they did an amazing job. We also used Screen Steps, an easy program for creating how-to guides.

Today our results are good. The transition when we launched in the fall of 2016 was smooth. I was expecting a lot of users to be either upset or confused—change is always difficult. But it was a lot quieter than I expected, and I think it was that manual process we went through, crossing our T’s and dotting our I’s.

We’ve added 10,000 more assets since launch, in less than a full academic year. We’re seeing fewer queries on the technical matters, and getting more productive engagements with our faculty.

 To watch this web seminar in its entirety, visit


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