Office for Digital Learning

Content Enhancement

Using video to enhance digital content

By: Robert Ross | Posted on: 01 May 2016

Pedagogical Benefits (or why should I use video?)

Several decades of research have shown the benefits of using video in education. The popularity of Kahn Academy, TED Talks, Udemy and other video-based learning resources proves that there is a demand from students - worldwide - for quality video learning resources.

Rich media—video, audio, podcasts, and lecture-capture files—is proliferating across university and college campuses.

There are many benefits to using video. Salman Khan in his video, "Let's use video to reinvent education" outlines the way video can impact on teaching and learning and encourages educators to consider the 'flipped classroom' teaching model.

Kahn Academy image link

Info: What is a 'flipped' classroom?

In a flipped classroom, students watch online lectures, collaborate in online discussions, or carry out research at home and engage in concepts in the classroom with the guidance of the instructor.

Key benefits of video-based learning content include:

  • Video learning materials are available 24 hours a day
  • Self-paced learning - students can learn using videos in their own time and at their own pace
  • Pause and repeat key points
  • Pressure of “understanding this” immediately during class is removed
  • Students can learn/review subjects weeks and even months after they were first introduced
  • Use time in class to review and discuss the learning concepts, increasing interaction and collaboration
  • Can be used with other VLE tools to test student grasp of key concepts e.g. online assessments, discussion boards
  • Metrics and tracking statistics make it easy to see when - and if - a student watched a video
  • Videos are accessible to those students who are unable to physically attend class for whatever reason e.g. disability or illness
  • Content of the video will never “grow old”. They are reusable learning objects

Video in Ulster University

In the past, support for video in Blackboard Learn was limited. Video was treated like any other content item e.g. Powerpoint and uploaded to the content collection and linked to in the content area. Issues arose with the different video formats being used. Some video formats were supported by some browsers and operating systems but not others. This created issues for the students attempting to watch the videos and impacted on the effectiveness of video as a teaching tool.

As a result, Ulster University identified the need to invest in tools to allow staff and students to collaborate and interact using a range of video-based tools. ShareStream Media Platform, Techsmith Relay and Blackboard Collaborate have recently been added to the University’s service catalogue to allow staff and students to do just that.

ShareStream Media Platform

The ShareStream Media Platform was designed to fulfil the rising demand from educational institutions for integrating media into online courses and campus communications. It allows for the uploading, editing, storing, managing and delivering video and audio content in a secure and auditable environment.

ShareStream will store and convert video – regardless of format - and deliver in to the viewer in a format that suits the device they are on, at a quality that suits their current download speed.

The ShareStream Media Platform is fully integrated into Blackboard Learn. Full instructions are available on our support wiki at:

But in brief, the key features of the ShareStream Media Platform are:

  • Upload and delivery of video content using it's ShareStream Pick-n-Play tool
  • Embedding of video content in any tool in Blackboard Learn e.g. Discussions, Journals, Grade Centre Feedback, Content items
  • Protection of video content so that it is only available to students in the module it is embedded in – with the option to make any video publicly available.
  • ShareStream Dropbox tool allows students and staff to collaborate and share videos with each other.
  • ShareStream Media Assignment allows students to submit video based assignments using their computer or mobile device. The ShareStream Media Assignment is fully integrated into Blackboard Learn’s Grade Centre for easy marking
  • The ShareStream Media Manager allows staff to create playlists, RSS feeds, iTunes playlists, create video clips, share video and access viewing statistics

Techsmith Relay

Techsmith Relay allows staff to record lectures without interrupting the classroom. The software works in the background, recording the screen and audio - a microphone is required - and automatically sending finished recordings to the ShareStream Media Platform. From there the recording can be embedded in Blackboard Learn using the ShareStream Pick-n-Play tool.

Techsmith Relay is currently available on all teaching machines, but installation must be requested through ISD to have it installed on any other machine.

Full instructions are available on our support wiki at:

Blackboard Collaborate

Blackboard Collaborate is an online collaborative learning solution. It provides browser based video collaboration and conference tools.

Examples of current use of video in Ulster University

The following are some examples of current use of video in Ulster University:

Mr Mark McKane (School of the Built Environment): Lecture Capture

Mark has been using the Techsmith Relay tool and ShareStream Media Platform to capture his lectures (SUR509) and embed them in his Blackboard Learn content.

Mark McKane Example

Dr. Barbara Skinner (School of Education): Recording Teaching Practice

Barbara’s, ‘Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages’ students (EDU 701) have been using Relay and ShareStream to capture their teaching practice sessions and embedding these in Blackboard learn. The videos are used by the students to review their sessions:

Barbara Skinner Example

Ms Glenda Martin (Careers/Employability Unit): Student Elevator Pitches

For an employability assessment, Glenda’s students (ACF434) had to record a 1-minute-long ‘elevator pitch’ for a prospective employer. The students recorded the videos using their own mobile devices/computers and submitted the videos to Glenda via the ShareStream Dropbox tool. The videos were then embedded in Blackboard Learn to allow the student to review and comment:

Glenda Martin Example


Mr Gerard Ross (
Dr Kenny McCartan (

Useful Links