Learning Futures

Exploring transformations in higher education

Category: Technology

From lecturing to engagement – with video

Photo by Jimmy Chang on Unsplash

Every university in the world is exploring fast effective ways to transform teaching. I think one good way forward is through the MASSIVE INTRODUCTION of VIDEO (MIV). Not just recording lectures but much much more!

Video is a key pathway towards ‘Education 3.0’, where learners are creators of knowledge and the boundaries of traditional educational structures are blurred.

Here I explore some of the ways we are introducing video for transforming our students’ experiences at the University of Western Australia (along with acquisition of a sparkling new Enterprise Video Management system, EVMS).

Example opportunities

If you want to accomplish… Recommended approach
Learners working through conceptual material at their own pace and then focusing face-to-face class time on interaction and application of concepts Flipped classroom
Sparking creativity and build practical skills Learners as creators
Providing effective, meaningful feedback to learners Video feedback
Inspiring and engaging learning by incorporating multiple perspectives ‘Authentic voices’: Digital storytelling
Supporting learners’ mastery of procedural or hands-on tasks Demonstrations and simulations
Building motivation and connections with students Welcome and ‘update’ videos

(Bates, 2015; Deakin Learning Futures Teaching Development Team, 2014; Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation, 2017)

1. Flipped classroom

A flipped approach means that ‘content delivery’ happens outside of the classroom, usually digitally and available for students to access in their own time and way. Students engage with videos, readings, e-tivities and other preparatory work provided digitally, e.g., in a learning management system (LMS). Then, instead of lectures, in-person class and group time is used to apply, explore or extend concepts, for example in workshops, labs, discussions, or hands-on activities. Hence flipped classrooms can improve engagement and active learning by substituting less engaging lecture-style delivery with interaction and applied learning. The classwork time is typically in a ‘sandwich’ – and students then follow up digitally, perhaps with assessment and feedback opportunities.

Video plays a significant role in a flipped approach, as it is often used to convey conceptual material that is more traditionally covered in lectures. Videos can be combined with readings and other preparatory materials provided digitally.

The flipped classroom approach allows students to learn at their own pace, as they can stop, backtrack, and review while watching videos. Motivation appears to increase when students know that they need to apply or discuss the out-of-class content during face-to-face class time (Bishop & Verleger, 2013).


Hessom Razavi and Sanjay Ramanathan (Medicine) are creating a digital learning program about ophthalmology for medical students. ‘Eyeballs made easy’ takes a flipped classroom approach to increase and enhance students’ eye care knowledge and practice, combining videos and e-learning with face-to-face teaching.

2. Learners as creators

One powerful way to incorporate video in learning and teaching is to have the learners create videos, either individually or as part of a group, perhaps instead of a written assignment or exam.

The opportunity to create videos allows learners to:

  • Have rich learning experiences
  • Experience independence and ownership over their creation
  • Collaborate with each other
  • Develop skills in digital storytelling (Kearney, 2011)
  • Contribute creatively to society and discuss their creations
  • Experience the challenge of communicating through the medium of film
  • Develop skills in film-making, research, communication, and technology (Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation, 2017)
  • Promote critical reflection and development of a personal narrative (Reeves et al, 2017)


In this initiative at Loughborough and Sheffield Hallam universities (UK), learners undertook a video reporting project as an assessment in engineering and materials science units, allowing learners to gain knowledge and skills through research and video creation (Willmot, Bramhall, & Radley, 2012).

3. Video feedback

When providing video feedback, markers or unit coordinators can record themselves verbally commenting on assignments and then provide learners with the video file instead of, or in addition to, written feedback. Personalised feedback can be recorded for each student and/or the unit coordinator could record a general message addressing common strengths or weaknesses in the class.

Video provide students with better quality feedback and quantity of feedback, better comprehension of the feedback, and improve their rapport with learning leaders (Chalmers, et al, 2014; Knauf, 2015; Robinson et al, 2015; Turner & West, 2016).


Shannan Maisey and Dino Spagnoli (Chemistry) carried out an initiative (see the project blog) that provides students with instant feedback in the lab or classroom. Students prepare for lab sessions by reading and watching demonstration videos. In the lab, they demonstrate the required skills in front of the instructor, who uses a mobile device to rate the performance. This generates an email that provides students with videos that explain how they performed and give instructions on further skill development.

4. Authentic voices: Digital storytelling

Interviews with experts or community members can be used as primary sources of study and promote experiential learning. Recordings of public lectures or events can be repurposed and used for different contexts and subjects and present different perspectives. Live or recorded online discussions can demonstrate debate and decision-making in action.

As an experiential learning tool, these types of videos can:

  • Facilitate authentic engagement with external people and their viewpoints
  • Bring topics to life by demonstrating real scenarios
  • Substitute for or enhance a field visit
  • Present primary resources or case-study material
  • Synthesise multiple events to show real world outcomes
  • Demonstrate decision-making processes ‘in action’
  • Help change student attitudes by presenting material from different and authentic perspectives. (Bates, 2015)

Unit co-ordinators can incorporate videos that already exist (as permitted by copyright) as well as create their own videos that tell stories and bring different perspectives to the learning experience.

Digital storytelling approaches are best connected with other learning activities, such as discussions, reflective writing, and critical analysis (Kearney, 2011). These can be classroom activities as well as activities carried out in the LMS and formal assessment items.

Annotation tools can be used to make learning with videos more interactive, as they allow students to comment or respond to questions at particular points in the video. These tools can be used to support active learning with videos and provide learners with feedback on their understanding.


An initiative called Legal Storytelling was introduced into the Juris Doctor (JD) program at the University of Western Australia in February 2017. A film of a hypothetical fact scenario is used as the basis of problem-solving, role-plays, case studies, and professional skills development throughout the degree.

5. Demonstrations and simulations

Videos can be used to demonstrate or simulate experiments and procedures. A video demonstration is often more effective, accessible and repeatable than text or static image representatives of complex procedures. They can include lab procedures, use of technical equipment, client interaction techniques, use of software, and so on. They can also include steps that students will need to follow later on their own, in a lab or in a work experience setting.

Videos can help students to master knowledge and procedures by allowing them to learn at their own pace and revisit the content repeatedly (Bates, 2015).

Simulations or demonstrations of software used on a computer can be recorded with screen capture software. Other types of demonstrations in a physical setting can be recorded with a video camera or mobile device.


Mary Gee (Earth and Environment) and her team are developing interactive videos to support students’ development of field skills in geology before, during, and after a fieldwork experience. Students take a different pathway through the videos depending on their answers to questions. The videos help students prepare for full engagement in the field as well as continue their skill development and complete the assessment afterward.

6. Welcome and ‘update’ videos

Welcome videos and more frequent informal update videos or podcasts can help learning leaders (lecturers) set the tone for learning for their units, easily and quickly highlight important issues, answer questions and alert learners to deadlines.

Welcome and update videos allow learning leaders to:

  • Welcome and motivate learners
  • Have a voice to connect personally with students outside of lecture settings
  • Help learning leaders keep ‘in touch’ with their students
  • Guide students with announcements, introductions to new topics, and key information
  • ‘Humanise’ digital content
  • The spark of a personal connection can really shape a learner’s experience (Dutton, 2017; Schmidt, 2017).


Gary Dufour’s (School of Design) short video welcomes and motivates students by previewing the material that will be studied in the unit, sparking their interest and engagement.

Make your Choice

So what do you think—are videos useful for higher education?

Would you like ideas that discuss using videos, such as this one, as a spark to start your dialogue?

Or perhaps you’d like to read 10 of the ‘top’ books first?

If you are/were Gen Z, which do you think you’d choose?

Further Reading

Bates, A. W. (2015). Teaching in a digital age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning for a digital age. Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage

Bishop, J. L., & Verleger, M. A. (2013). The flipped classroom: A survey of the research. In ASEE National Conference Proceedings, 30(9), 1-18. Retrieved from https://www.asee.org/public/conferences/20/papers/6219/view

Chalmers, C., MacCallum, J., Mowat, E., & Fulton, N. (2014). Audio feedback: richer language but no measurable impact on student performance. Practitioner Research in Higher Education, 8(1), 64-73. Retrieved from

Deakin Learning Futures Teaching Development Team. (2014). Using audio and video for educational purposes. Retrieved from http://www.deakin.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/179013/Modules_1- 4_Using_audio_and_video_for_educational_purposes-2014-02-28.pdf

Dutton, A. (2017). Introduce yourself: Why professors should do video introductions. Kaltura blog. Retrieved from https://blog.kaltura.com/introduce-professors-video-introductions/

Forsey, M., Low, M., & Glance, D. (2013). Flipping the sociology classroom: Towards a practice of online pedagogy. Journal of Sociology, 49(4), 471-485. doi: 10.1177/1440783313504059

Hansch, A., Newman, C., Hillers, L., Shildhauer, T., McConachie, K., & Schmidt, P. (2015). Video and online learning: Critical reflections and findings from the field. Retrieved from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2577882

Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation. (2017). Video for teaching and learning. Retrieved from http://www.uq.edu.au/teach/video-teach-learn/index.html

Kearney, M. (2011). A learning design for student-generated digital storytelling. Learning, Media and Technology, 36(2), 169–188. doi: 10.1080/17439884.2011.553623

Knauf, H. (2016). Reading, listening and feeling: audio feedback as a component of an inclusive learning culture at universities. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 41(3), 442-449. doi: 10.1080/02602938.2015.1021664

Ljubojevic, M., Vaskovic, V., Stankovic, S., & Vaskovic, J. (2014). Using supplementary video in multimedia instruction as a teaching tool to increase efficiency of learning and quality of experience. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 15(3). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1825/2903

Reeves, T., Caglayan, E., & Torr, R. (2017). Don’t shoot! Understanding students’ experiences of video-based learning and assessment in the arts. Video Journal of Education and Pedagogy, 2(1), 1. doi: 10.1186/s40990-016-0011-2

Robinson, S., Centifanti, L., Brewer, G., & Holyoak, L. (2015). The benefits of delivering formative feedback via video-casts. UCLan Journal of Pedagogic Research, 6(1). Retrieved from http://pops.uclan.ac.uk/index.php/ujpr/article/view/326

Salmon, G. (2017). Higher education 1.0 to 3.0 and beyond. UWA Learning Futures blog. Retrieved from https://uwalearningfutures.edublogs.org/2017/03/22/higher-education-3-0/

Schmidt, N. (2017). Humanizing online teaching and learning: The quest for authenticity. EDUCAUSE Review Blog. Retrieved from http://er.educause.edu/blogs/2017/3/humanizing-online-teaching-and-learning-the-quest-for-authenticity

Skead, N. and Offer, K. (2016). Learning law through a lens: Using visual media to support student learning and skills development in law. Alternative Law Journal, 41(3), 186-190. Retrieved from http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=406607143022037;res=IELAPA

West, J., & Turner, W. (2016). Enhancing the assessment experience: improving student perceptions, engagement and understanding using online video feedback. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 53(4), 400-410. doi: 10.1080/14703297.2014.1003954

Willmot, P., Bramhall, M., Radley, K. (2012). Using digital video reporting to inspire and engage students. Retrieved from http://www.raeng.org.uk/education/hestem/heip/pdf/Using_digital_video_reporting.pdf

Woolfitt, Z. (2015). The effective use of video in higher education. Report for Inholland University of Applied Sciences. Retrieved from https://www.inholland.nl/media/10230/the-effective-use-of-video-in-higher-education-woolfitt-october-2015.pdf

Yousef, A. M. F., Chatti, M. A., & Schroeder, U. (2014). Video-based learning: A critical analysis of the research published in 2003-2013 and future visions. In eLmL 2014: The Sixth International Conference on Mobile, Hybrid and On-line Learning, 112–119. Retrieved from http://www.thinkmind.org/download.php?articleid=elml_2014_5_30_50050 Continue reading

The Keystone Species of Digital Learning Environments

Voussoir stones of an arch illustrating the concept of a keystone

The keystone

About Keystone-ness

Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) are used to mean more or less the same thing. For example, the term LMS is used for Blackboard Learn in Australia and VLE for the same system in the UK. As I’m in Australia today, I’ve used the term LMS in this blog.

For me, LMSs are like keystone species of biological ecosystems. Keystone species play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of an ecosystem, which would collapse if that species was removed.

Cluster of ochre sea stars

Some sea stars are keystone predators, maintaining the ecosystem by preying on species that don’t have other predators.

In 1997, only 7% of institutions surveyed in the UK used an LMS. By 2001, 81% of respondents ‘owned’ one or more LMSs, with 40% taking one up for the first time between 2000 and 2001 (UCISA, 2001). Implementation and integration was minimal, and staff and student engagement ‘very low’.
Now (2017) almost all colleges and universities worldwide use them and their scope has widened very considerably. They were oversold on the basis of ‘delivering’ learning, which sparked much debate about the predation of teaching staff—with their roles threatened by this new species that supposedly replaced the teacher as content-deliverer.

In 2017, there are around four dominant LMS providers globally (USICA, 2016). These have become highly complex enterprise-wide systems, often by acquiring a wide range of other technologies, or ensuring full and easy integration through modern integration tools offering more seamless experiences for students (read more about learning tools interoperability here). There’s more to go on this…

In practice, no LMS can ever ‘deliver’ learning and teaching but the LMS can and does shape, enable and limit learning design…a form of mutuality in the learning environment like a keystone! (More about learning design in a future blog post.)

So we move towards the 3rd decade of the 21st century with LMSs functioning as complex ecosystems. A full set digital learning tools are required as standard including enterprise-wide e-portfolios, rubrics, digital-first assessment and marking, a wide range of synchronous and asynchronous collaboration and interaction, blogs, journals, time-based communication, learning analytics to fully exploit the enormous amount of ‘big data’ that is collectable and usable from within the LMS—in short anything and everything that enables a move from one-way teaching towards learning together, integrates, adds value, and reduces costs.

In addition, LMSs are now are now the most significant enterprise-wide technology platform that impacts on students’ experiences in Higher Education. Effective use of the LMS is essential to enable the design, development and deployment of new models of learning, including functionality on mobile devices. LMSs contribute to avoiding expensive academic time delivering the same content repeatedly, increase the deployment and efficiency of physical teaching space on campus, and offer fully flexible, online digital learning to student cohorts (big and small) at all levels. The potential and value that LMSs could offer is now very large if they are aligned with university aspirations.

The main LMS providers are realizing that their futures may depend on focusing on the impact on the students’ learning experience and working in true partnership with institutions. Institutions should be looking to shape their critical mission of developing students’ experiences and enabling staff to embrace new ways of becoming learning leaders. With the optimum digital learning system, then academic staff, learning technologists and information specialists become the ‘engineers’ of the ecosystem rather than by-standers and recipients.


Beavers are ‘ecosystem engineers’—they create and modify their environment, affecting other species in the habitat.

I thought you might like to consider what I think are now the minimum requirements if LMS providers wish to continue their keystone-ness in promoting evolving learning in universities.

Here’s my list for today: Minimum requirements for a LMS in 2017. Yes the list is long, but we’re worth it!

Environment (technology)

Wetland ecosystem

  1. Fully digitally interoperable with University systems, especially the Student Records/Students Management System, and identity and access management systems as well as any other key external partners.
  2. Be cloud–based with unlimited free secure storage.
  3. Able to bring extensive and effective resources to DDoS attacks.
  4. Be mobile-first and fully mobile-friendly (mobile apps but also fully responsive to all current and futures devices of all sizes) – i.e. all channels and devices.
  5. Have the highest level of security and system responsiveness.
  6. Servers and repositories provided in local jurisdictions for avoidance of concerns about data protection and speed of access for students and staff.

Symbiosis (relationships)

Bee on a flower

  1. Reliable estimates of the time scales for the delivery of new features, apps, and new systems, so University projects can prepare guidelines and design pilots and prototypes to fully exploit the best and most appropriate of them.
  2. Be constantly kept up to date by the provider and external partner, with reductions in costs as appropriate, and good easy-to-use training and development resources for every change. The day has gone when any technology provider should expect the university to provide its own micro resources to enable staff to actually be able to use their product…or pay good university funds for consultants!
  3. Flexible enough to move with new opportunities in an agile way and provide frequent ongoing innovation and sustainability. Moving from one LMS to another is highly costly – traumatic for the university community even! Nowadays ‘content’ and ‘students’ can be successfully transitioned with effort. Academic staff much less easily.
  4. Increasingly offer embedded systems which are just as good or better than those of other providers (to avoid bits of the university purchasing elsewhere), and dramatically simplifying the number of partners the university works with, and pays.

Nutrients (learning processes)


  1. Good solutions to forward-looking learning and teaching models – e.g. easy constant feedback at the point of formative and summative submission, mobile learning and mobile fully embedded in the blend flipped classrooms and labs, digital-first assessment and marking, synchronous remote classrooms, as well as new models as yet undefined, i.e. driven by working with the academic community and pedagogical partnerships (not just ‘technical roadmaps’).
  2. Provide really powerful straightforward work flows for key functions e.g. digital-first submission of assessment and marking, offering fast feedback.
  3. Have an effective and supportive repository which is shareable and searchable across the institution, thus avoiding constant duplication and promoting cross disciplinary courses and support.

Energy flows (user experience)


  1. Student experience: Agile, flexible, easy to navigate, easy to use for the whole university community. Not much really!
  2. Staff and designers’ experience: Also agile, flexible, easy to navigate, easy to use.
  3. Staff development and learning design are the biggest factors in terms of time expenditure for the institution and of impact on students – well beyond platform and data migration costs. The LMS must be the enabler for staff development and learning design. This requires a Web based software environment (beyond the ‘menu select’): a contemporary ‘drag and drop’ is the minimum!

Just when you thought it was safe to come out of the cave, the future looms up very fast.

Looking out from a cave

In the near future I would also expect:

  1. Effective Adaptive Learning tools and platforms so personalised pathways for students can be built in, supporting self-efficacy, independent learning and greater student success (retention and achievement).
  2. Tools for large classes.
  3. Easy and quickly developed ways of achieving future approaches to learning, e.g. flipped learning, flipped labs, mobile as blend.
  4. Much improved intuitive interfaces for students and staff, and ‘pop-up’ help in critical areas.
  5. A LMS that does not expect everything to be based on ‘courses’ and programmes’, credit hours and traditional methods of assessment and feedback., or ‘standard’ starts and finishes.
  6. Good decisions about whether a LMS really can/could provide social learning and communities of practice, or whether using existing social media within appropriate policies and supportive learning design is a better approach.
  7. Stronger awareness of accessibility to match the increasing number of students with accessibility needs – for example easy ways of students-led/choice alternatives for those with low vision, colour blindness, dyslexia, mobility issues, etc.
  8. New features and provision of appropriate partners for new and emerging technologies, e.g. AI, VR, 360 degree video, robotics.

So just one question to would-be LMS ecosystem learning engineers: what would you add, remove, adjust to this list? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

For a brief overview of futures for higher education as a complex evolving system, visit www.gillysalmon.com/learningfutures, see Education 1.0-3.0

Continuing to be a Keystone

Relationships and true innovative partnerships are what really matter. The power to achieve strategic objectives as an organisation lies not in the technology platform but in the commercial and trust relationships that can be built. The moment has arrived for universities to demand a ‘learning-first’ approach while enabling academic staff to be as comfortable in the LMS as they are in the lecture theatre.

Image credits

Arch voussoirs by Jhbdel. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Cluster of ochre sea stars (Pisaster ochraceus) – keystone predator by D. Gordon E. Robertson Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Beaver photo from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


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Heathcote, L., & Palmer, E. (2016). Designing a review of the Learning Management System. Presentation at ASCILITE 2016, Adelaide, Australia. Retrieved from http://2016conference.ascilite.org/wp-content/uploads/ascilite2016_heathcote_concise.pdf

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All accessed 5.4.17

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