eLearning attends Panopto’s 2018 North American User Conference

panopto user conference 2018

eLearning Digital Media Developers, Justin Melick and Hunter Bridwell attended Panopto’s 2018 North American User Conference on October 2, 2018 in Chicago, IL. This event brought together colleges, universities and Panopto staff from across the nation together to connect, share, and learn how video can enhance teaching.

Panopto conference keynote session.

See also: 

There were keynote sessions, product roadmap discussions, and breakouts on a variety of topics such as: accessible video, best practices in training, panels with experts and more!


Hunter Bridwell captured some notes from a variety of sessions with the following highlights being most noteworthy:

  • Closed Captioning at Brown University
    • Goal to ensure compliance with ADA
    • Accessibility reflects the university’s core values
    • Move toward a spirit of ADA and not just meet letter of law
    • Pushed for funding using the central mission to the university
    • Buy-in and commitment from community
    • Demonstrate need for captions and funding amount
    • Prioritize content to be caption
      • Academic and public facing video first
      • Videos likely to be reused
      • Materials for online courses
      • Materials for individuals you need it
    • Where do we want to land? Caption everything? Huge challenge!
    • End of 2018 around 1200 hours of captions
    • Events 41.8% and Academic 58.2% have been captioned
    • Impact on learning
      • 98.6 of students who use captions
      • 75 of student who use captions say they help as learning aid
      • 71% of students without hearing difficulties use captions
  • Panopto Environments and Accessibility Solutions – The Science and Art of Video Accessibility and Case studies in Accessible Video

“All of the great advances in our society have come when we’ve made investments in other people’s children.” – Robert Putnam

    • What’s the future and why it’s up to us?
    • University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
      • Since 2017 average student population includes: 77% economic disadvantage, 65% female, 47% first gen, minority all 28%, native american 16%.
      • The challenge – while recognized as one of the most affordable liberal arts colleges, fell behind in leveraging technology.
      • Felt better use of EdTech would improve student achievement through technology enhanced instruction.
      • Wanted to ensure USAO courses were designed with accessibility in mind.
      • 2016 Department of Education grant for NASNTI program $1.7 million Title 3 grant to use Panopto to capture and deliver a 4 year interdisciplinary studies curriculum with AST standards.
        • Baseline data and Panopto
        • GPA rose 12.7%, Retention 3.2%
        • Hidden Benefits – Preserves the Kiowa language

Justin Melick captured some notes from a variety of sessions with the following highlights being most noteworthy:

“Show us your Ecosystem”

Virginia Commonwealth CC
  • Deliver synchronous/asynchronous courses
  • Use Panopto, Bb Collaborate and Zoom
  • Panopto since 2010
    • Started with pure lecture capture
    • Moving towards asynchronous “mini-lectures”
    • 90% used by academic departments
    • Used for online orientations
    • Streaming live events
    • Capture device in each classroom
      • Webcam, ceiling mics, doc cam
  • Bb Collaborate
    • Web-conferences, office hours
    • 100% used by academic departments
  • Zoom
    • Replacing Cisco ITV
      • Significantly cheaper
    • Integrated into Panopto
      • Stores Zoom recordings
Wharton School – University of Pennsylvania
  • Mainly use Panopto for classroom lecture capture
    • Use with Canvas
    • Capturing rear camera and then screen sources
    • Force systems to reboot overnight to avoid sync issues
  • Student speech capture
    • iPad minis on tripods
    • Using Panopto app
  • 40 remote recorders
    • Not doing a ton of lecture capture
  • 42k video assets
  • Use for live web casting
  • No video retention policy because of Panopto
  • Using student assignment folders
University of Washington
  • Built a custom room scheduler integration that talks between the universities room reservation system and Panopto
  • Crestron integration
  • 55 remote recorders


Learn more about Panopto at GVSU on our eLearning website.


Enhancing Teaching with Panopto and Blackboard Ally at GVSU

With 5 weeks into the Fall semester, this post provides a few highlights around the use of Panopto and Blackboard Ally in teaching and learning at GVSU. Deployed this past summer, these technologies are available now to all faculty, staff, and students at Grand Valley State University to enhance education and support student success.


Panopto replaced Ensemble and TechSmith Relay in the summer of 2018, with the migration of content being completed on June 30. GVSU adopted Panopto to increase the capabilities to best leverage media-rich content in teaching. In addition to more powerful tools such as searching, embedded video quizzes, and discussions, creating closed captions was made easier for faculty.

Ally connects to the GVSU 2021 Strategic Plan in the following areas:

Strategic Priority Area 1: Actively engage learners at all levels.

Institutional outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Objective 1.D.2: At least 93% of faculty members regularly use electronic course management tools, such as Blackboard, in their teaching.

Objective 3.B.1: All systems and policies ensure inclusiveness and accessibility.

Objective 4.D.1: Effective technologies are integrated into every function and structure across the institution.

Inclusiveness/Access – Incorporating multiple voices and experiences by valuing identities, perspectives, and backgrounds.  Strengthening and expanding possibilities through technology to increase accessibility and remove barriers.


Here are a few usage stats of Panopto as of August 1, 2018:

  • 2371 videos have been created
  • Approximately 98 assignment folders have been established, allowing students the ability to easily submit a video for an assessment
  • 99 hours of video (on average) is being viewed per day
  • There has been a total of 7968 viewing / usage hours
  • 9710 total users on Panopto with 1056 faculty accounts and 8654 student accounts
  • 103 faculty and staff have installed Panopto on their Windows 10 PC or laptop
  • Training sessions: 7 sessions in the Spring, 7 sessions in the Fall, with additional support offered to faculty in Drop-Ins, eLearning Open Office Hours, Big Byte and Faculty Learning Communities as well as individual consultations.

Panopto has been a success at GVSU in providing a unique and engaging way for faculty to deliver high quality instructional content. Further, it extends the capabilities available to faculty while enabling closed captions to be added for accessibility.

“I jumped right in to using Panopto because I had a Spring online course to prep. I am thrilled to report it is easy to use. I can make videos and upload them for near immediate use – a great improvement over the old system. Editing videos is easier, and I particularly like the feature that allows me to add quiz questions. Especially, teaching online, being able to add a couple questions to incentivize students to watch the whole video, and check they understood it, is a great bonus pedagogically. I also find the viewership metrics incredibly handy. They provide real insight into students’ work habits.” – Jeff Rothstein, Sociology

Blackboard Ally

Blackboard Ally was put into production and made available to all students, faculty, and staff on June 21. Ally was adopted at GVSU to increase awareness of the importance of accessibility and ADA compliance, build the capacity of faculty in creating accessible content, and to offer greater insight at the institutional level.

Ally connects to the GVSU 2021 Strategic Plan in the following areas:

Strategic Priority Area 1: Actively engage learners at all levels.

Institutional outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Objective 1.D.2: At least 93% of faculty members regularly use electronic course management tools, such as Blackboard, in their teaching.

Objective 4.D.1: Effective technologies are integrated into every function and structure across the institution.

Objective 3.B.1: All systems and policies ensure inclusiveness and accessibility.

Inclusiveness/Access – Incorporating multiple voices and experiences by valuing identities, perspectives, and backgrounds.  Strengthening and expanding possibilities through technology to increase accessibility and remove barriers.

Since June 11, and overall, 107 faculty have fixed 406 files in 129 courses and students have downloaded 2862 alternative formats from 786 courses. Usage stats of Ally as of August 27 (semester start) to October 18, 2018 include the following:

Graphs of Total Courses (3,672), Total Content (160,344), and Overall Accessibility Score (62%) from Blackboard Ally

Since deploying Blackboard Ally, the Overall Accessibility Score reported by the institutional dashboard shows an increase of 16 percentage points.

Graph showing Blackboard Ally accessibility score increasing with 62%, up from 46% the previous semester.

For courses in the Fall 2018 (since August 27) semester:

  • 3,724 courses include content
  • There have been over 209,000 total content items created and scanned by Ally
  • 62% is the “Overall Accessibility Score” (58% without Ally) indicating improvements made through Ally’s alternative formats.
  • Top 3 most common accessibility concerns include:
    • Contrast Issues
    • Missing Document Headers
    • Images without Alternative Descriptions
  • Most severe accessibility concern:
    • Non-OCRed Documents
  • Training sessions: 1 session in Spring included UDL, 2 in Fall with additional support offered to faculty in Drop-Ins, eLearning Open Office Hours, Big Byte and Faculty Learning Communities as well as individual consultations
  • 125 files have been manually fixed by faculty in 38 courses
  • The most popular alternative format is PDF, followed by HTML

Graph of the numbers of access of alternative file types showing 1,584 accessed of PDF files, 959 accesses of HTML, 111 accesses of ePub, 108 accesses of OCR PDFs, 69 accesses of audio, and 5 of braille.

Overall, from June 11 until October 2, in Blackboard Ally:

  • 406 files have been fixed by 107 faculty in 129 courses
  • 2,862 alternative files have been downloaded by students in 786 courses (5,205 total views of the alternative file format screen)
  • 1,000 courses have 2,558 registered clicks of Ally dials by faculty

In addition, Jeff Sykes, Assistive Technology Coordinator in  Disability Support Resources, has demonstrated how to access alternate formats in Blackboard while meeting with students who use alternate format books. In the Fall 2018 semester, 40 students are using alternative format books as an accommodation.  The “Ally feature is benefiting any of those students who have a course that uses inaccessible documents posted to Blackboard.”

“Ally documents evidence of my efforts as faculty to make my teaching more accessible.

Through incremental changes Ally guides me step by step to adjust course files.  As I’m learning how to use Word better, all other file formats are generated in my course automatically.

Ally uses gamification to indicate my progress in making files student-friendly.  Getting to 100% is an emotional rush!”

– Szymon Machajewski, CIS Affiliate Professor, teaching CIS150 in the School of Computing and Information Systems and recipient of the Most Inclusive Classrooms in the United States.

Helping ALL STUDENTS be SUCCESSFUL #Accessibility

Working to ensure ALL STUDENTS are SUCCESSFUL is a Grand Valley State University (GVSU) commitment. In fact, GVSU’s vision demonstrates this commitment to providing an inclusive learning environment where all students can explore new directions, find their niches, and develop skills for life and productive careers.  

In addition, one of GVSU’s value statements is “Inclusiveness”, whereby:

Inclusiveness – Incorporating multiple voices and experiences by valuing identities, perspectives, and backgrounds.  Strengthening and expanding possibilities through technology to increase accessibility and remove barriers.

Accessibility is not new. In fact, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and an amendment to this act in 1998 (Section 508) provides basic rights for people with disabilities along with specific requirements for electronic communication and information technologies. Further, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990.  In the past 28 years, there have been many advancements in technology and education has largely become digitized. The rapid growth of online learning and greater use of digital materials by faculty creates a unique challenge in the support of the accessibility of electronic documents, software, and web-based services.

This challenge is further strengthened by 11% of college students reporting a disability, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Here at GVSU, over 1,600 students, faculty, and staff have registered with the DSR office for disability related needs as of 2017. 

A few important questions to ask are:

  1. Can all of my students access and review my course content?
  2. To what degree is my course content accessible?
  3. How can I improve the accessibility of my courses?

The importance of these questions is underscored by this video (“To Care & Comply Accessibility of Online Content”) from Portland Community College.

GVSU’s accessibility efforts are facilitated through a campus wide approach that includes a wide array of departments, faculty, and staff. The Division of Inclusion and Equity leads the university’s work in providing a campus wide framework for equity and inclusion. 

Focusing on teaching and learning, GVSU’s eLearning team, along with the Disability Support Resources (DSR) office provide accessibility awareness and training for faculty, and accommodation support for students. DSR focuses support on resources and accommodations that enhance the academic environment for persons with disabilities and to help educate the university community on disability issues. While DSR works more directly with students, GVSU’s eLearning team provides services to faculty, supporting their efforts to leverage technology in teaching, and to most effectively and efficiently use technology in an accessible way.

Specifically, the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team supports the use of Panopto and Blackboard Ally to assist faculty in opening the door to education for all students by providing captioning and enhancing course content. In addition, the eLearning team has created a series of “Accessibility Tips for Faculty” to help support faculty.

  • Learn more about using Panopto to increase the accessibility of your videos with captioning.
  • Learn more about using Blackboard Ally to review your course content for accessibility, and to learn how to increase the compliance of  your files.

If you are a faculty member at GVSU, please know that we are here for you. eLearning and Emerging Technologies offers key support and services such as:


eLearning and Technology Showcase participates in Fall Teaching Conference

The eLearning and Emerging Technologies team, along with student Emerging Technology Specialists from the Atomic Object Technology Showcase participated in the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center resource fair, which was part of the Fall Teaching Conference.


Ron and Sam, student Emerging Technology Specialists from the Atomic Object Technology Showcase brought innovative emerging technologies to demo for faculty attending the Fall Teaching Conference at GVSU.

On Wednesday, August 22, around 250-300 faculty arrived at the Eberhard Center to participate in the 24th Annual Fall Conference on Teaching & Learning. This year’s focus was on the importance of storytelling.

How are GVSU faculty, staff and students telling our stories of purpose, transformation, innovation, and accomplishment? This year’s Fall Conference theme was chosen with the intent of shedding light on the powerful stories we all have to tell and providing a space where we can reflect on the ways in which we use narrative in our teaching. Whether analog or digital, oral or written, the crafting of impactful stories requires intentionality, skill, and practice – hence, the focus of this event.

At this event, and throughout the morning and over lunch, faculty attendees had the opportunity to engage with a variety of departments offering services and support to faculty. GVSU’s eLearning and Emerging Technologies team provided demonstrations of emerging technology through the showcase, while highlighting the resources offered through the IDeL, Digital Studio, and support for using #edtech in teaching at the university.

If you missed seeing us at the event, here are some key support and services that are provided by the eLearning team:

4 Tips for Providing Feedback and Increasing Instructor Presence in Online Courses at GVSU

feedback-1825508_1920On the topic of student feedback and building instructor presence, we’ve compiled 4 ideas to consider for how to increase student engagement without feeling overwhelmed:

TIP 1 – Establish a regular and frequent instructor social presence by using various Blackboard tools throughout the term.

  • This can mean posting a weekly announcement that focuses on giving students a sense of how the assignment they’re working on fits with larger course goals; sending an email to the class, requesting they reply with quick check-ins regarding their ongoing research project; or participating in a discussion forum to keep the conversation moving in a productive direction.
  • Other ways of reaching out to students and inviting them to engage with you include announcing your virtual office hours each week and having students schedule brief conferences to be held with you live via Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.

TIP 2 – Provide Student Feedback

  • Use the gradebook in Blackboard to provide grades, comments, and feedback. Simply posting a grade provides instructor presence, while also giving students the feedback they need and expect on their learning activities.
  • Provide quick feedback on shorter assignments, but feel free to take longer to respond to and grade bigger projects–and communicate with students about your response time, so they know what to expect.
  • It’s ideal to respond to students’ inquiries or daily homework activities on Blackboard within 24 hours Monday – Friday, or on Mondays for activities students may complete over the weekend.
  • Delivering quick responses to daily homework while also explaining the longer turnaround time on bigger projects can help you to manage both students’ expectations and the paper load. Additional feedback tips are available on this IDeL Tip Sheet.

TIP 3 – Engage with Audio and Video

  • Try using Panopto, GVSU’s enterprise video capture system, offering a robust video editor and closed-captioning. This can be used for student feedback, course tours, orientations, software demonstrations, lectures, etc.
  • Try using Vocaroo, an online voice recorder, to provide feedback to students’ assignments. This easy-to-use technology can help to streamline your feedback process and give students a new way of engaging with you. Watch a 2-minute video of Rick Geisel, faculty member in the College of Education, explaining why and how he uses Vocaroo in his class.

TIP 4 – Check in with your Students

Need help or assistance? eLearning and Emerging Technologies is hosting Open Office Hours at a variety of times and locations, specifically for drop-in assistance and faculty support.

Brought to you by: Online Education Council, Pew FTLC, eLearning & Emerging Technologies, University Libraries, and the Office of the Provost


Top 10 Questions to Consider before the next Semester Begins


The eLearning team has assembled a list of the top #edtech 10 questions to consider before the semester begins!

1. Have you posted a welcome announcement to help students get started?

Providing instructor contact information, your standard response times, and preferred communication methods are important to keep the lines of communication open and to set proper expectations for your students. You can also embed welcome videos and course tours using Panopto.

2. Have you discussed with students your preferences on collaborating with each other on assignments, taking a test open-book, or using other resources?

Including academic integrity statements and your policies on collaboration within your syllabus gives students guidance as they work on graded activities in your course. Be sure to address these kinds of things, too, when you describe assignments to students.

3. How are you evaluating students?

As you think through a variety of assessment strategies for your course, it is helpful to review your learning objectives to align assignments and learning activities. Students sometimes complain that assignments are “busy work.” But, if they understand the point of an assignment and how it aligns with objectives, they are less likely to be negative.

4. Have you considered using Respondus to quickly move your paper/pencil exams and quizzes into Blackboard?

5. If you are using Blackboard’s online assessments, are you using question pools and randomization of questions and answer choices?

Using these functions reduces the ability of students to complete a test together.

6. Timely feedback is crucial for student success. Have you tried using Blackboard’s automated grading tools, assignment comments and feedback features, or including video in your comments with students?

7. Looking for ways to improve student engagement, beyond the discussion forum?

Try Flipgrid for student introductions, create a Lightboard mini-lecture, or learn about the new features that are available for digital media with Panopto. More ideas and more tools are available on the TECH BYTES web page.

8. Are you looking for new, free, or low-cost course materials to embed in Blackboard?

The eLearning team and the library provides assistance in locating open educational resources as well as videos, books, articles, and more that can be embedded to your site or added to your electronic course reserves. Your liaison librarian is available to help you locate a variety of course materials.

9. Do you know if your course materials are accessible?

On June 21, 2018, Blackboard Ally was made available at GVSU.  This application provides insight as to the course materials you have uploaded and their level of accessibility. In addition, if you have videos that need closed-captioning, be sure to review the capabilities in Panopto. eLearning has also developed a web page with accessibility tips, including techniques for creating an accessible syllabus.

10. Would you like to learn more and connect with other faculty teaching online and hybrid courses?

Join a Faculty Learning Community and stop by to visit the eLearning team for our Open Office Hours. In addition, log into Sprout to view seminars and hands-on workshops scheduled throughout the year.

Want More Info? Need Help? Try These Resources!

Brought to you by the Online Education Council, eLearning and Emerging Technologies, University Libraries, the Pew Faculty Teaching & Learning Center, and the Office of the Provost

For Faculty @GVSU – A Plethora of Possibilities using #EdTech in Teaching

board-928378_1280In just 17 days, a new semester of teaching and learning will begin with nearly 25,000 students enrolled in traditional and online/hybrid courses.

While students will soon be moving into the dorms and living centers, the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team is busy helping new university faculty get plugged in to a plethora of possibilities in leveraging #edtech in teaching.

elearningfallhandoutWith the Fall 2018 semester, the eLearning team has prepared over 20 sessions on a variety of instructional technology topics. From using the brand new accessibility solution called Blackboard Ally, to taking advantage of the new capabilities such as embedding quizzes into video content with Panopto, there are exciting new ways to engage students.

On Wednesday, August 8, nearly 100 faculty participated in “New Faculty Orientation”, where the eLearning team shared resources and provided how to information for best using technology to enhance student success. Sessions at the faculty orientation included tips for:

  • Using Blackboard to effectively and efficiently share course content, communicate with students, and deliver assignments and grading feedback.
  • Connecting live with students for office hours and guest speakers with Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.
  • Increasing the accessibility of course content while providing Universal Design for Learning with Blackboard Ally.
  • Engaging students with interactive and media-rich video content with Panopto.
  • Building custom multimedia content including lightboard videos through the Digital Studio.
  • Discovering emerging technologies such as 3D printing and virtual reality in the Technology Showcase.
  • and more!

In addition, for faculty teaching online, the eLearning team offers a variety of resources and support. The IDeL team in eLearning specializes in expert instructional design in the design, development, and delivery of distance education.

The use of Blackboard and the design, development, and delivery of online and hybrid courses remain a top priority at GVSU, in fact, flexible learning options that meet students’ needs are part of the 2021 GVSU Strategic Plan.

If you are a new faculty member at GVSU, or if you have been teaching at the university for years, the eLearning team is here to help you support student success!