Online lecture viewers can zoom, pan within videos using new software

Online videos of lectures are an increasingly popular review tool among college students.

New software that allows viewers watching online video lectures to zoom and pan around recorded images could provide an interactive and more cost-effective alternative to current lecture capture technology as college campuses move to make recordings of classes available online.

Developed by Stanford University electrical engineering professor Bernd Girod and his team of students, ClassX software allows viewers to zoom in to watch the professor write on the board or pan out to see the full classroom.

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The ClassX program divides a single video image into many rectangular “tiles,” each of which has its own video stream. When a viewer zooms closer to see say, the professor’s face, the program transmits information only for the tiles that show the area of interest.

Because the program is cloud-based, users can access the video through a web browser without installing any software on their personal devices.

Sherif Halawa, a graduate student on Girod’s team, says the program has grown quickly in popularity, mostly through word of mouth among faculty who report good experiences with the project.

“When students started hearing the buzz, they said, ‘If it’s possible to record the course, then please do it,’” Halawa said. “And the professors come and say, ‘We want to put the course on ClassX.’”

The program has already been used for a variety of classroom settings, from introductory lectures with hundreds of students to small classes of advanced students. Halawa said the program seems especially useful for demonstrations of lab techniques.

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