When I started working on the iLecture project at The University of Western Australia in 2003, the team had developed a world-leading lecture recording solution that had been garnering significant attention. Within a few years, 30% of Australian universities had implemented iLecture and, by 2015, that number had grown to over 70%. Across Australia and New Zealand, our software was recording around 25,000 recordings per teaching week and hundreds of thousands of students were using our technology every day to re-listen to their lectures, clarify concepts that the instructor had shared, and revise for their examinations. Our company – now called Echo360 – was synonymous with lecture recording; we were the best in the business, with state-of-the-art technology and a support service to match.

But our software didn’t only automatically record lectures delivered in theatres. That’s what we were known for, but we supported other uses of video. For instance, we had a desktop app to record and edit content created outside the classroom, and audio/video content created in other software could easily be uploaded into ours for delivery to students. These tools, released many, many years ago, should have marked us as a video creation and repository tool as much as we were a lecture recording solution—but most people weren’t aware of these capabilities, and our reputation remained the solution for in-classroom lectures and not for video as a whole.

Fast forward to today, and we still have customers who use Echo360 for lecture recording and another software as a video repository – even though Echo360 has all the features that they use in the video repository. It’s evolved that way, and sometimes these things are hard to unwind. However, slowly but surely, universities are re-looking at their arrangements. Realising that having one video solution instead of two makes sense for many reasons, they are choosing to consolidate their two services into one – and they’re choosing Echo360.

Echo360, The Comprehensive Video Platform

One of these universities is the Australian Catholic University (ACU). With campuses throughout Australia (across the states of New South Wales and Victoria, and in Adelaide, Brisbane and Canberra) they have even more need than most for a fully-featured, highly-reliable video platform. For over a decade, they’ve used Echo360 to record lectures, and they’ve had another solution in place to store videos recorded outside of the traditional classroom. However, at the beginning of 2021, ACU moved to using Echo360 for all their video needs.

James Nicholson, Manager of Educational Design at ACU, says that this was an easy decision to make. The existing familiarity that the majority of academics and students had with Echo360 was an important factor, and all the interactive capabilities that are available within Echo360 made the decision a positive from a learning and teaching perspective. He comments that “most academics know Echo360 already through lecture capture, but it’s much, much more than that. It’s a safe and secure video platform, and you can create some really interesting interactions in Echo360 videos to reinforce learning.”

The move to Echo360 as the University’s sole video platform has coincided with a change in how academics are being encouraged to use video at ACU. Whilst lectures are still being recorded when they take place, much more emphasis is being placed on academics creating short, topic-based videos for publication within learning management system pages. Michael Sobek, a Learning Designer at ACU, spends much of his time assisting academics in using technology to enhance their courses and notes “when we were just doing lecture recording, everything was automatic from an academic’s perspective and they didn’t have to do anything for a recording to take place and be published to students”. In moving to a model where academics are creating more video content outside the classroom, he observed that they are now more ‘hands-on’ with Echo360 than ‘hands-off’ but that it’s been a positive change and “fortunately the Echo360 tools are very simple to use”.

Interactive Media Bolsters Student Engagement

Dr Isabelle Lys, a Senior Lecturer in Bioscience at ACU, is an academic who is creating short videos for her students and likes Echo360’s interactive media capabilities which allow her to embed polls into those videos. She feels that having the polls in the video help to ‘warm up’ her students, getting them excited and engaged in a topic, prior to them diving into more detailed readings. She says the benefit of in-video polling means that “we can double-check that students have understood the topic and we can find out what they took away from the content shared”, perhaps even tailoring subsequent course content to respond to the information gleaned from the students’ responses.

Echo360 Supports Students Creating Content As Well

Creating content is not only in the realm of academics, of course. More and more students are using video to communicate with their peers and instructors, both informally and formally, as part of their studies. Dr Nyree Kelly, a Lecturer in Human Bioscience, runs a course that includes a video assignment as part of the course’s assessment. She loves the fact that students have the flexibility to create videos using their preferred tool, “because I don’t want students not to do well on their assessment because of the technical aspects. At the end of the day, what we’re marking is content, and that content can be created using Echo360 or anything else, so long as it is uploaded into Echo360 for me to mark”.

This is all very exciting for me. I’ve always thought, no matter whether it’s academics (individually or as a group) creating videos for students to watch and interact with, or students creating videos for their assignments (again, individually or as a group), that learning and teaching benefits from having one video platform in place to ensure a consistent experience across the board. As ACU continues to explore and expand its use of video, I’m delighted that Echo360 is on their journey with them.

Jocasta Williams is the General Manager for Echo360 in the Asia Pacific region. If you’d like to discover how Echo360 can help transform the teaching and learning experience at your institution, please get in touch.

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