Developing a Batch Actions tool to streamline Panopto administration

Imperial College London are the number one user of the Panopto Lecture Capture Cloud system worldwide, with over 100,000 lectures recorded since the system was introduced in 2011. With over 5 million student views recorded and the majority of lecture theatres now equipped with Panopto recording hardware, revising lecture recordings has become an established part of the learning experience for many Imperial students.

Graph showing the increase in Panopto usage at Imperial since January 2014
Graph showing the increase in Panopto usage at Imperial since January 2014

This volume and breadth of Panopto coverage entails significant administrative work behind the scenes, the majority of which is carried out by faculty learning technologists who liaise with their departmental teams to schedule upcoming recordings, set up folders linked to the correct courses and grant access permissions through the Panopto user interface.

A significant obstruction to carrying out this work efficiently has been that the Panopto interface restricts administrators to setting up recording schedules, folders and user permissions one at a time. There has been no way to create multiple schedules, folders or permissions at once. Feedback from faculty learning technologists has been that this one-at-a-time method is time consuming and prone to human error.

We (the ICT Digital Education team) have developed a Panopto Batch Actions tool, written in Java using the Panopto API, which allows multiple schedules, folders and permissions to be created at once from a csv file supplied by faculty Learning Technologists via a dedicated ASK form.

The Panopto Batch Actions tool allows multiple schedules, folders and permissions to be created at once via csv upload

The tool has been in Beta since September 2017 and was released as a production system in September 2018 after extensive testing from Imperial staff. Since the beta release we have had over 200 batch file submissions through the ASK form, comprising over 100,000 schedules creations, folder creations, permission assignments and RSS feed activations. This represents a significant time saving as previously each item for each action would have been processed individually.

Feedback from customers has been positive:

“The new Panopto batch processes have dramatically improved our workflow within the Edtech Lab. It has enabled us to replace a considerable amount of manual data entry with a few clicks of a button.”

– Phil Tulip, Edtech Lab project Manager, Business School

Looking to the future, ICT are piloting an integration between Panopto and the Celcat timetabling system which will automatically schedule Panopto recordings once the lecture has been timetabled, removing the need for faculty Learning Technologists to set up schedules by sending csv files, further improving the efficiency of the process. The pilot for this project is currently underway with the Engineering faculty and early feedback has been positive. The Batch Tool will still remain in use once the Panopto Celcat timetable integration is released for all faculties as there will still be a need to set up folders, permissions and RSS settings based on csv files.

More details of the Batch Tool are available on our website. We are continuing to develop additional self service tools to help streamline e-learning processes, improving autonomy and efficiency for Imperial staff, details of which will be posted on this blog when they become available. Please contact us for more information.

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