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Introducing Learn Plus (Panopto) and Blackboard Collaborate

23 June 2015

by Dewi ParryImage of Differences between learn plus and collaborate

The University is investing in two new learning technologies this summer designed to help you do more with teaching. These are Learn Plus and Collaborate. So, this week, we’re going to give a bit of an explanation about these.

Both these technologies have already been used within University departments, and we are collating case studies over the summer designed to help you find out:

  • what other Schools and individuals are doing;
  • the situations and teaching scenarios where these technologies could be adopted and used;
  • the desirable practices developed for both tools.

So, watch this space!

So what are the differences?

Let’s start with Learn Plus. Learn Plus is a suite of tools to help support and enrich learning and teaching across the University. Powered by Panopto, it includes the ability to record basically any kind of teaching, learning and assessment activity by capturing audio, video, screencasts and presentations (in several ways). This will be possible using any device – from permanent recording equipment within teaching rooms down to your own mobile device – anywhere you may be. Students can view recordings of all of these captured activities, including, for example, lectures, events and resources, or watch (but not interact with) a live broadcast event, such as a lecture or tutorial.

Blackboard Collaborate is interactive and participatory. It is a virtual (or online) classroom, a synchronous space where educators can teach in real time, and students can interact directly with teachers using their own microphones or typed text. It uses a range of tools to facilitate interaction with or between students, and has features such as breakout rooms with white boards to facilitate group work and group discussion. Students can be located anywhere (in the world) as long as they have an internet connection, so it’s possible to take part in a live teaching session, such as a tutorial, from home, from abroad, during a work break or placement, and so on.

Features of Learn Plus and Collaborate

Learn Plus will have the ability to edit recordings. It will be possible to remove sections, swap sections around, add additional content such as personal capture videos and fieldwork videos. Chapters are automatically created as you navigate from one presentation slide to another. It will also have a ‘notes’ functionality that enables students to annotate recordings, these are synchronised to the recording and shareable with others, opening up possibilities both for revision and curation and collaboration. The notes will be fully searchable, enabling students to search for keywords and navigate to the exact position within the recording.

Blackboard Collaborate is an online classroom designed for synchronous (real-time) participation, but it is still possible to make recordings of the sessions. These will not include chapter marks and the recordings will not be searchable, but comments made during the session are recorded, as are all presentations, interactive whiteboard content, polls and interactions. Therefore, it will be of use to students not able to attend the sessions, or as revision aids.

Learning Central Integration

Both Learn Plus and Collaborate will be integrated into Learning Central, therefore access to your sessions and recordings can be restricted to you and your students only, or made available more widely, within the University or publicly. Learn Plus will have its own media library, and your recordings are automatically uploaded, transcribed and indexed. You can also upload recordings of your own (not recorded using Learn Plus) to this media library, including recordings of Blackboard Collaborate sessions. In either case, recordings can be easily embedded into Learning Central modules.

More to come…

There’s more important work we’ll be sharing soon related to teaching scenarios and practices, but we thought a blog post describing the differences would be of use early to avoid confusion going forward. As always, please do share with us any ideas, scenarios, comments, etc, you have. Here are a couple of links to previous blog posts around this subject:

Education Portfolio Showcase (2nd July)

We also now have information about the showcase on the 2nd July. This “will give academic staff an opportunity to look in further detail at some of the exciting developments around the Education Portfolio”. As well as keynotes in the morning, there are also workshop sessions planned for the afternoon.

Further information and a booking link are available here:

There will be a representative from Panopto speaking during the morning. If you would like to learn more about what Panopto can do for you, there will be a chance to speak directly and learn more form the representative during the afternoon. If you are interested, please contact us directly (as well as booking a place for yourself on to the showcase):


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