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All Posts by Fred Cutler

The Video Platform for a Virtual Music Festival

Setting up WeVu for a Virtual Music Festival

WeVu is a media-hosting platform that can be used for virtual music festivals with asynchronous submissions of video recordings. 

WeVu’s characteristics and features make it ideal for an online, asynchronous music festival.

  • Administrator, adjudicator, and entrant roles in the system
  • Time-specific comments by the adjudicators
  • Unlimited sites and users
  • Source-quality audio – no compression or downsampling
  • PDF scores can be uploaded so that they can be found by adjudicators along with the videos and downloaded for viewing in a separate window while the video is playing.


WeVu is flexible. But it is not built exactly like a file storage system with folders. Think of it more like educational software built so teachers and students can be in a closed space together to share and comment on audio, video, images, and pdfs. Each WeVu site can be set to allow or not allow students to share files with each other and comment on them. And within each site, any file can be available to everyone, or only between teacher and student (a WeVu ‘Assignment’), or placed into a Playlist for organization.

Think of the WeVu organizational hierarchy like this:

Instance >> Site >> Playlist or Assignment >> Videos

For Music Festivals with a dedicated private instance, there are decisions to be made about whether to create separate WeVu sites for different categories of entrants, different adjudicators, or different instruments or age/level groups. Each site stands alone within your WeVu instance, but festival entrants and adjudicators can be affiliated with multiple sites. So an entrant could be in both a violin and a cello/bass site, while an adjudicator could be affiliated with all the woodwinds sites for the different age or competition categories. Within each site you may want to have separate Assignment boxes for each ‘class’ to which entrants register and to which they will upload their videos. Then, if there is a public-access aspect to the festival, you may want to make certain videos public or create separate sites that house the videos that are being made public (copies of the original recording that has the adjudicator’s comments, but with those comments removed when the copy is made.)

So, for example, your organizational hierarchy might be:

The Festival’s WeVu Instance >> Junior Piano >> Grade 1 Piano >> All Grade 1 Entrants’ Videos

What follows assumes that you want entrants to only be able to ‘share’ their upload with the adjudicator, rather than it being visible to all entrants. (If you want it to be more public, we can set this up with you).

Our recommendation is that you create sites for each adjudicator but name those sites with the categories or sections that the adjudicator is responsible for – like “Junior Piano” or “Woodwinds”. Then that adjudicator knows that she is responsible for all the entry videos in that site.

Within each (adjudicator’s or section) site you can define as many WeVu Assignments as you wish to correspond to different classes.

The User Experience

Set up this way, the experience for users will be:

For Administrators:

  • Create separate WeVu sites for each section or adjudicator (e.g. Brass or Sarah Gill)
  • Each of these sites will have a unique invite link to send to the adjudicator and another to provide to entrants. Using those links to create an account (or login after creating an account) will attach that user to the applicable site.
  • Keep a spreadsheet with a list of these site names and the two links.
  • Provide the appropriate site link to entrants after they have chosen the class they’re entering.
    (Entrants entering more than one class in one section/adjudicator’s site only need the one link, once).
  • Assist as necessary with entrant/parent uploads and move files from one class to another if necessary.

For Adjudicators:

  • Receive your email with the owner/instructor-role link for their site.
  • Create an account from that link. (From then on, log in at your instance’s URL, which will be of the form: https://app.wevu.video/[festivalname])
  • When videos are uploaded by entrants, the adjudicator will receive an email. (We can turn this off if you don’t want this.)
  • Watch the performances one by one and make time-specific comments and a general final summative comment.
  • Keep a separate sheet with the marks to provide to the festival administrators for ranking and awards.

For Entrants and their Parents:

  • Get the account creation link from the festival, either by email or after clicking through on the Festival website once a class has been seleted and registration fee paid.
  • Record the video, following recommendations from WeVu and the festival to maximize audio quality but minimize file size.
  • Create a WeVu account and log in, which puts the entrant into the appropriate site.
  • Go to the upload screen from the left menu, choose the appropriate class (Assignment in WeVu terminology), find the file on the device, and upload.
  • After the adjudication has happened, entrants can log in again to read the comments from the adjudicator and for each comment replay their video from the exact moment at which the comment was made.

We would be happy to do a call with you to discuss your needs. Please email fred.cutler@wevu.ca with your inquiries.


Of course, we think WeVu is your best bet for a virtual, asynchronous music festival. 

How to share your Zoom recordings with a group, privately

The world, particularly the educational world, is Zooming. Many Zoom users – teachers, professors, coaches, managers – are recording their Zoom meetings locally on their computer.

Great, but what do you do with those recordings? How can you share them? How do you get users to engage with the recordings? 

We give you some options in this post.

Sharing Zoom meetings to YouTube works. But it isn’t safe, private, easy to manage, and it doesn’t allow discussion. We talked about that in another blog post on why sharing video with YouTube is really a terrible option for groups.

Really. Don't use YouTube to share Zoom recordings.

Sharing Zoom Recordings on YouTube

But if you want to do it on YouTube, here’s how:

  1. Record your meeting in Zoom. Here’s the Zoom support article on how to do it.
  2. That’ll eventually convert to an .mp4 file
  3. Log into YouTube and use the little Camera and Plus sign icon near the top right. Here are the YouTube instructions.
  4. Set your video to “Unlisted” in YouTube.
  5. Share the link to the video (just copy it from the browser address bar when the video is visible) with the people you’re sharing with.


Sharing Zoom meeting recordings on Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloud, and Dropbox 


Sharing files over email, or into shared drives like Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloud, and Dropbox works, but you lose control of the video and you can’t have private discussions in the group about it. This is what Zoom itself recommended in 2015. (Bet you didn’t think Zoom was around in 2015!). Here’s how you’d do it.

  1. In whichever service you choose, create a folder for the Zoom recordings you want to share. Give it the name of your group.
  2. Invite people to join the folder using the link from the service you’re using.
  3. When you make a Zoom recording you can just move it into the desktop folder and it should sync to the Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, Box, or iCloud folder so others can see it.
  4. You should try to set your folder so that your group members can’t delete videos from it.

Dropbox is probably best here because they have an integration with Zoom. But your Dropbox free account can only store so many videos.


Using WeVu to Share Zoom Recordings (a better option!)


If you want a walled-off, private site for your group, one that keeps your videos safe and allows your group to discuss the videos, it’s easiest and best to do this, whether in education or otherwise, on WeVu. (You can do it for Audio, Image, or PDF files too!)

If you have WeVu sites for your groups of learners or employees, you:

  1. Record the Zoom session. According to the Zoom support article here. Use the local computer option to make it easier to find and upload to WeVu.
  2. Once the meeting is done, it’ll compress to .mp4 in a folder on your local computer.
  3. In your WeVu site, where your group members are site users and you are the site owner, you upload the meeting file. You can put it in a particular Playlist to organize it if you want.
  4. If you’ve set it for email notifications to users, they’ll get an email with a link that takes them right to the video. Of course, when they log in as normal too, they’ll be able to see it anytime.
  5. Now your users can discuss the video or audio file using time-stamped comments and replies, or location-specific comments and replies on image or pdf files.

There are some other services for sharing videos, as we discussed here, but WeVu is the easiest and gives your users the opportunity for maximum engagement and dialogue around your Zoom events, anytime afterwards.

Here’s a picture of a Zoom meeting in WeVu. In fact, it’s a Zoom meeting uploaded to YouTube and imported to WeVu, but it’ll work just the same if you upload to WeVu and avoid YouTube altogether! See the time-specific comments and replies (on the right) about a particular statement a participant made late in the meeting?

Of course, we think WeVu is your best bet for sharing any video privately, organizing the videos, and having discussions around them. WeVu is really free if you use YouTube or Dropbox for storage, and it's really affordable if you want the security and functionality of uploading to WeVu storage. 

Image-based Assessments with Image Annotation Tools

In some fields, it has been very important and very common to assess students by having them mark up an image. Think of anatomy, geography, art history, and maybe even engineering, nursing, and more.

A great post by at the University of Chicago gives a rich example:

"... in a class addressing early modern Italian art, an instructor could ask students to individually or collaboratively annotate an image of Duccio’s Maestà in order to analyze different historical, political, and theological themes represented in the painting. The instructor could create an assignment asking students to isolate specific elements of the painting, using annotation methods, in order to identify main themes to explore further through individual projects or in-class discussion, strengthening the relationship between the assignment and the course. It might be a useful exercise to create a working list of objects, ideas, or concepts identified through the image annotation assignment that students can build on during the course. In a course that examines multiple images, instructors could return to that set of student-produced themes to see how they are represented in other images representing the Madonna. By drawing connections between concepts and images, instructors can begin to introduce students to skills like visual literacy, which is important for interpreting, understanding, and making meaning from images."

Image annotation has been done for more than a half-century, since it became practical to photocopy images. The typical way to do this was to copy the image onto a paper exam, have the students point things out, identify them, and write about their significance. But how can you do that digitally, remotely?

It's not that easy. The EdX project and Harvard University tried to do this and all they have is an internal tool integrated with their Canvas Learning Management system.

Some newish tools are ideal for this.

Tools for Image Annotation

In some Learning Management Systems like Canvas, new quiz questions are available for Hotspot answers. Same goes for TopHat as a Classroom Response System. But both of those allow only one response and the student is pointing to something on the image. Still, asking students to find things on images and identify certain things is a powerful tool for learning that words-only instruction and assignments can’t provide.

H5P is open source software that sits on top of various learning objects and has many powerful ways to insert ‘correct’ areas or points on images. Students can be asked to click on a spot to identify something, or even to place multiple text labels on an image.

Classtools.net has an  Image Annotator that's free, but it's not really for students to be given an assignment conveniently by teachers.

There are lots of tools for people to annotate images individually. You can even do this in Powerpoint or your image editing program. So students could be asked to take an image into one of those programs, annotate it, and submit it as an assignment. This would be pretty clunky for the instructor, but perhaps in some Learning Management Systems like Canvas with its Speedgrader, it would be practical.

Of course, with individual assessments, you have lots of options, but you may want to allow for much richer, dialogic, social learning before the assessment. For that, you’ll need a tool that takes images in any format and pdfs and then allows comments and replies.

Unfortunately, you can’t quite do this in Perusall, which has all the right capabilities: commenting and replies and a gradebook and auto-grading. But it only allows highlighting of text, not pointing to or outlining areas on images.

There’s a project at the University of Queensland, Australia, called Cirrus that allows submission of annotated images (and text, audio, and video). But it seems to be limited to that university and it’s all student-to-instructor, with no peer interaction possible.

Even Google has a tool called JamBoard that allows you to draw on images or post sticky notes. It's probably not practical for assignments for a reasonably-sized class, but it is worth looking at.

The almost do-it-all tool for image annotation assignments is WeVu. In WeVu you can zoom into high resolution images and make specific comments on locations in the image. Art History students do this with images of artefacts and Anatomy and Nursing students do this on images from their subjects.

The one thing WeVu is missing (until early 2021) is an on-board gradebook.

WeVu allows you to have asynchronous discussion (group annotation) of images (and pdf, audio, and video) during formative phases of a course. You can follow this with assignments where students individually annotate the images by using circles, rectangles, dots, arrows, and higlighting to identify the location they’re referring to. So they’re spatially-tagged comments that can be quite long answers to questions you pose. For teachers:

  • You upload the image once and all students annotate it, with only the teacher able to see all the students’ annotations.
  • You can reply to individual students’ image annotations if you wish.
  • The annotations are searchable by name or keyword so it’s easy to go from A to Z through your student list and mark each student’s annotation without switching from submission to submission as with other systems. 
  • You can read an annotation and click on its text to jump to show the location on the image.

Student Image Annotation in WeVu

Better than Zoom for Music Lessons: Complement live teaching with asychronous recordings from students

Boost your online music lessons with asynchronous video. More students, using less of your time.

If you’re a private music teacher, you need to keep your business going during the pandemic and make it sustainable for when this is over.  In this article we give you some tips on how to add online components to your business that actually let you teach more students in less time. That means a better bottom line for your teaching business, even after things go back to normal. Here’s how it can work. But first, here's what Cindy Moyer said about the combination of live (Zoom) lessons and not-live feedback on her students' self-recordings.

Teaching Music Online with WeVu

WeVu has made quality online violin “lessons” possible. My students upload videos to WeVu. I then leave WeVu comments. After the student has had time to look over the comments, we meet up via Zoom for 10 - 30 minutes to discuss whatever couldn’t be addressed by my WeVu comments. I was thrilled that WeVu solved the Zoom problems of terrible tone quality, a constantly-freezing stream, and sound that doesn’t align with the motion. However, my students and I have quickly discovered other advantages: having to make recordings has proven to be motivational for practice and being able to see and hear exactly what I’m talking about has helped students understand what they need to change.

I heartily recommend WeVu for people teaching online music lessons.


Here are five steps and tools to boost your teaching revenue – and student progress.

There are five steps and they're for teachers with various kinds of music teaching jobs. Lots of folks have already been doing four of them. It’s number five that’s a new idea and the key to the benefits you’ll see.

The key is asynchronous video.

Synchronous teaching over Zoom or Skype is OK but it’s limited. Here’s what one teacher said in a comment on an asynchronous (student-uploaded) video in WeVu. (It’s a bit harsh, but surely now the student will play the phrase over and over and fix that note!)

“This should be a B not a B-flat.  We've corrected this a number of times, but it isn’t sticking yet. You must not have listened enough, one phrase at a time and then played just those few surrounding measures at least 10 times. Have you?  Clearly fixing it a couple of times in our Skype session was not enough to resolve this.  You simply must use practice strategies that will fix errors.”

This teacher was able to deliver the feedback asynchronously, which gives it a better chance of having an impact, according to this long article on giving and receiving feedback. The key thing is that when feedback is delivered as text alongside the exact moment in the video where the student makes a mistake, the student says “OK, I get it, I really was doing that.” And because the student doesn’t hear it in person they don’t have that automatic resistance that we all have to criticism. It’s easier to benefit from it because there’s some distance between the event and the feedback. Students can even reflect first on their own performance, like this one.

Vocal Performance With WeVu

You can easily add asynchronous teaching to your toolbox. That’s the secret – step 5 below (jump to it here).

Five Good Practices for Music Teachers During Covid-19

1. Start by letting your students know you’re there for them

You’re doing this, of course, but we don’t think it’s possible to overdo it, so keep it up.  

Most music learners (and parents) will really want to maintain the same lesson schedule as they had before. If that’s possible, great. But you may be able to actually reduce the contact time over Skype or Zoom but increase the time they practice and the feedback you’re able to give them. That’s what we get to in tip number five.

2. Temporarily drop your price by 10-15% if you can. 

For some families where you know they’ve been financially impacted you might even drop the price further. No, this is not crazy. You’ll more than make up for it in a bunch of ways. And you’ll be able to bring it back up again when the crisis is over.

Your students’ and their families will really appreciate the gesture if you say that you’re doing it because your costs are slightly lower without having to host students in your home or travel to theirs.

You’ll increase student loyalty and, more importantly, referrals. You want your students and families to be telling their friends that “our music teacher dropped her price by 10% because she’s aware of the financial challenges that are coming for some families.”

You will probably be able to actually charge your average student a bit more, or spend less time, by gradually using this opportunity to introduce more asynchronous teaching. 

You’re going to pick up more remote students from further away.

3.  Get the best, most comfortable technology for connecting with your students in real time.

Choose Zoom or Skype or Facetime or Google Duo.

  1. Zoom might be best because your students don’t need accounts – you just email them a link. The connection is really reliable. I’m sure you’re using it already. One extra benefit is you can record sessions and upload to WeVu (see below). Zoom probably has the best settings for music quality, as we mention below.
  2. Skype was down but it’s coming back. Your students need a Microsoft Skype account, but after that it’s as easy as a phone call.
  3. Google Duo is good because everyone has a google account.

Sound quality. You need to be able to hear tone. Apple products are pretty good with onboard microphones, but Windows and Android devices are usually terrible. You probably already know that a condenser microphone is much, much better. We think the best deal for you to recommend to your students is a USB Condenser mic from FFINE. Under $50.  If you’re using Zoom, look at this video from Phil Gervasi showing how to set it up for best audio quality.

Use headphones so you don’t get the audio feeding back to the student. Most of the videoconferencing technology is pretty good now with this, but you’ll probably concentrate better with headphones. (Unless you’re playing yourself and need to hear yourself demonstrate!)

Lighting. Make sure your students have got some help setting up their camera (and microphone) so that you can see them clearly. Lighting is actually pretty important.

Practice. Build in at least 10 minutes at the start of your first lesson with each student to get comfortable and fix any issues with the technology.

Check out other guides from David Taylor, and some great tips and a whole course from Carly Walton at TeachMusic.Online and this resource from Texas Tech University.

4. If you can, do a practice lesson or two so you can get comfortable with some of the differences from in-person lessons.


Referring to the music is harder. You can’t point! If you have a moveable webcam, you could point it at the music and then point. But mostly you’ll have to refer to it in other ways that your students can understand. It might take a bit of extra teaching of how you’ll be referring to pages and bars on the music.

Demonstrating and referring to positions on the instrument or technical moves is harder. See if you can set up your camera to comfortably speak toward it and have your own playing visible too.

Check for ‘latency’ – which basically means delay. You and your students may need to get closer to their wifi access points or routers.

5. Add asynchronous teaching to your toolbox using a platform like WeVu. 


This is NOT more work. In fact, students will practice more and they’ll take your feedback in a new, complementary way. It’ll boost their progress without you spending more live time with them.

"Instead of synchronous lessons, I would recommend creating a system where students upload audio or video assignments and you provide feedback (aka asynchronous teaching). This allows the students to record and upload material when it is most convenient for them (and whomever they are living with), and also gives teachers the same flexibility.  -- Genevieve Clarkson, Professor of Tuba and Euphonium, Oklahoma City University

With the right video platform you’ll have students self-record their practice so you can give them specific feedback right at the points where they need the feedback. There are video tools being used in college music schools that where students upload and those uploads are private between teacher and student. Private teachers can use the same tools. You go to a student’s hand-in box, choose their latest upload, and then watch and listen. Teachers stop the video when they want to leave feedback and it’s placed right there. The feedback can be text, audio, or video! Students can really digest the feedback and play over and over from that spot so they can see and hear what you’re talking about.

Maybe get students to upload twice a week. You can go through a student video fairly quickly and leave quality feedback with what they should work on. For most teachers it takes less time overall than delivering the same instruction in person. Then when you do a live lesson, you and the students know exactly what is being worked on.

Tips for asynchronous music teaching:

  1. Keep the recordings pretty short. It’s easier to upload and easier for the student to focus on those little improvements that make such a difference to their playing and singing.
  2. Have the student do the same piece two or three times in a row in the recording. That’s a big boost that you might not have the time to do in a live online lesson.
  3. Then after you’ve given the feedback, a student can actually re-record as a reply to your comment. Students can play a few measures repeatedly as a reply to your feedback comment.
  4. Use a first comment on a student’s video to encourage and to make clear the overall areas you’re working on.
  5. Then use the General Comments area for a plan for the student’s next few practice sessions and into the next live lesson.

Go ahead and sign up for a WeVu site (there are lots of music use cases for a tool like this). It costs you nothing and you can try it with students for a month. Then you’ll pay only a few dollars per student per month. Students can pay for an annual license in your site.

Summary - Our Five Tips for Music Instructors

  1. Take more care with communicating with students and families. Of course you’re already doing that.
  2. Temporarily drop your lesson fees if you can afford it.
  3. Take the time to choose the best synchronous technology for live teaching.
  4. Practice with that technology.
  5. Get a cloud video tool that lets students upload privately and lets you give time-specific feedback.

Sharing and Discussing Video, Image, Audio, and PDF files in a Work Team, School Class, or Training Course – Asynchronously

Filesharing is nothing new. But the COVID-19 crisis has massively increased the need to share multiple file types and have pinpoint discussions about specific elements of those files. Even more than before, people need to share video, audio, images, and documents and be able to refer to specific moments, text, spots, locations, clips, areas, paragraphs, sections, and so on. Collaborating on all these formats means referring to those areas specifically.

Everyone knows how this works with text. You have a document shared by email or in Google Docs or Dropbox or iCloud or Box or whatever. You click and highlight text and make a comment. Your colleagues reply. Simple.  

But many teams work with video, audio, images, and PDFs. We need pinpoint commenting and discussion on all those file types, just like we all do for text.

Tools for collaborating on multiple file types

It turns out there are some specific tools for doing this. For video there are collaboration tools for marketers and for creatives – for making ads and such (frame.io, Wipster, Ziflow, and Vimeo). For audio there are musical and radio-production collaboration tools (ProCollabs, Reaper, Soundtrapv, Kompoz, Soundwhale). For images it’s Adobe or a few others, including for User Interface design (InVision, Moqups, Abstractv). And you can mark up PDFs and edit them in Adobe Document Cloud, a little bit in OneDrive and iCloud and Dropbox, and other tools like Flowpaper, Annotate, and NitroPro.

But teams suffer when they have to use multiple platforms for basically the same purpose. They need one place to share video, images, audio, and PDFs – assuming they share text in Google Drive or OneDrive or other cloud document services.

There are really only four cloud services that let teams collaborate on video, audio, image, and pdf all in one place. Three are built for creative teams in businesses to design, improve, and approve their marketing and advertising campaigns. One is a more general-purpose tool, built originally for learning and training and sports coaching.

One is Filestage.io. It’s a really well-designed product and good value too. Filestage is oriented to approval of assets, so it has a nice approval notification and approval flow, with different reviewers assigned to different stages. The comments can be made in space and in time on video, which is great. One issue with Filestage is how slowly files get transcoded and released for viewing. Even pdfs take a long time. Filestage costs $99/USD per month for 10 team members and 15 active projects, with only 50GB of storage, but external reviewers are free (they can’t upload or make projects, etc.).

Ziflow is similar to Filestage, aimed at the same market. And so is Workfront (formerly ProofHQ). These two are priced for business, so you’re looking at a minimum of $100USD per user per year for the most basic level of service and limited storage. These products are great, but they’re not for the consumer, the private coach, the teacher or professor, a training organization, or a business that wants to monitor its field operations.

A great option for the rest of us is WeVu, which is for sharing all these file types in a different way. It’s simpler and doesn’t have the same level of collaboration features. WeVu was built for education and training. It’s geared for students or trainees or athletes or even field employees to upload files for feedback and review by teachers, professors, trainers, coaches, and supervisors. In lots of ways it’s more flexible than the other three solutions, but doesn’t have the polish and some of the functionality. WeVu doesn’t have location-specific comments on video – only time. But WeVu is a lot more generous on video storage. And there’s even a free plan forever where you store files on YouTube or Dropbox. 

WeVu’s flexibility is evident from its many user types:

Video Sharing and more with WeVu

We think WeVu is your best bet (of course we do!) for sharing video privately, organizing the videos, and having discussions around them. WeVu is really free forever, for a personal site. All users get one free site where they can import YouTube and Dropbox videos. That WeVu site can contain multiple playlists and groups. You can invite as many users as you wish – up to 1000 per site. When you log into WeVu you’ll see your own site and any other sites that you have been invited to. So you can be a site owner in control of one site but also be a member of other sites.

If you want to upload videos directly to WeVu and take advantage of more of its features, like downloading comments and analytics, separating site users into Groups, and so on, you have to sign up for a paid plan, which still comes in signficantly cheaper than the other tools. And if you’re in an educational setting WeVu costs less than almost all other learning technologies.

Video for Quality, Compliance, and Safety in Field Operations and Training

Everybody knows how effective video can be for learning about complex business processes, equipment, and field operations. Most manufacturers of equipment provide carefully produced videos so operators can train at their own pace and review the video anywhere, anytime. 

Videos with “dos” and “donts” are great for promoting safety in your operations. 

BUT there are other, newer ways that businesses are starting to use video to make training more effective, ensure safety, and improve quality, especially in field operations.

Here are three of the key things they’re doing. 

1. Training

Not what you’re thinking. Sure, training videos are important, but that’s expected nowadays. Many organizations still haven’t realized the true power that comes from video now that we all have amazing smartphone cameras. 

Given the cost of training employees, it’s painful to see them retain only part of the information and ultimately forget much of it in just a couple of weeks. Even when employees really internalize the training, in many situations managers can’t even check the quality of their work unless they are right there in person as the work is being done. Add continuous retraining into the mix and monitoring employees’ performance gets really tough.

 Some cutting-edge business are using video for training in three, slightly more advanced ways:

  1. Training videos are presented with questions embedded in them and the opportunity for the trainees to ask questions and dialogue about what they’re watching. The engagement really goes up, so the information sticks.
  2. When the training is about equipment operation or fieldwork or client relations, the trainees' own phone cameras can record the their training practice exercises and instructors or managers can give feedback. After getting feedback, the trainees try again and upload a new, better performance of the task. That’s how people learn best; the people who study this kind of learning call it deliberate practice.
  3. Videos are truly effective in these programs when the tasks and skills are used on-the-job almost immediately. So when the training is over, it’s even more important to make sure the workforce is doing things right.  They can self-record in the field, doing the job, and the feedback process happens again. We know this sounds like a lot of work, but how much time and money would you save if your people didn’t make mistakes out there in the field with equipment or with customers?

2. Compliance with Legislative and Industry Standards

Videos can be used to help educate employees about relevant laws and policies that apply to their jobs and to the business as a whole. And then, when they’re able to film themselves doing their job (occasionally), you get a built-in audit of compliance with legal obligations. The same goes for employees obeying company and industry policies, and even legal requirements. Lots of employees say they’re unaware of some of the requirements of the job and this can be extremely dangerous. Video can help a lot. If you can improve compliance, you’ll get better safety, customer satisfaction, and it’ll boost your bottom line.

You can even create a mix-tape to use in marketing and sales, showing how great your employees are. 

3. Monitoring the Quality of Work Out in the Field

One of the problems facing field technicians and operators is that they don’t have great communication with their managers and peers due to the nature of their job. They’re out in the field, on job sites, and dealing with customers independently. 

Problems arise when they encounter something they don’t know, or they're simply not doing the job well enough. As a manager you can ask them to record clips as they perform some key responsibilities. Then you use new, user-friendly software tools to point out specific details where they need to do things differently. Managers can even record a video-comment, showing how to do it better. Similarly, if operators encounter a machine or a situation that they don’t have much knowledge about, they can communicate asynchronously (not in real time -- just like email and texting) with managers and other field technicians to get input on the best way forward. 

Imagine a coffee barista who follows all the right steps to make a latte, but when he gives the customer the coffee, he doesn’t do so enthusiastically. Instead, he looks like he’s dreading every second of being in the job. Obviously this can threaten the cafe's reputation and push customers away. What if the employee filmed himself for a couple of minutes and the manager saw the issue clearly. A manager might catch this in store, but might be too busy to notice or hesitant to bring it up. With a video, you can spot the mistake and correct the employee gently, constructively, and in a detached way rather than in the heat of the moment. It’s amazing how much video convinces people they aren’t doing things as well as they could. Most of the time we know what we should be doing and don’t realize that we’re not doing it!

It's really hard to monitor field operations. In cases where technicians and operators have limited connectivity you may only be able to talk to them at the end of the day, or in more severe cases, after a few days. Video is the answer. Phone video recording, uploading later when there’s connectivity, opens up countless quality-assurance and process-improvement opportunities for these field jobs. The sharing of videos quickly creates a network of priceless information which could facilitate future onboarding processes as well as promoting safety and quality. 

“How can I introduce video comprehensively into my business?”

The obvious starting point is to simply ask your employees to use their phones to record themselves during particular parts of their work and then send them to you (e.i. Using texting apps, Google Drive, YouTube, or email). But that sounds like a tech nightmare. YouTube or email might be a quick solution to start with if you have five to ten videos, but it would quickly become a jungle to manage if you really use video with a sizable workforce. Finding, commenting on, and archiving these videos just isn’t practical using Email and YouTube, and it's only slightly better with shared cloud file storage (Dropbox).

Another possibility would be to have your employees use a portable storage device such as a USB or an SD card with the video in it. But that just seems really old-fashioned and inefficient. 

And with these workaround methods you also don’t have the option to comment on specific moments during the video.

Businesses that want to take advantage of these three new ways of using video for training, safety, and quality improvement should use cloud video software designed for this purpose.

Some of the options are WeVu, GoReact, Bongo, Bridge Practice, Rehearsal.com, Vosaic, and Acclaim

WeVu is probably the best value for money, the most flexible, and easy to use. WeVu lets you organize videos, keep them private to the right people, and put comments right on the timeline of the video using text or audio or video for the comments. And you can even mark up and comment on images and pdfs.

Managers can decide what videos are available to whom and can change these settings at any point. Once uploaded, they’re stored in secure cloud servers and will always be available to whoever has access, but they key thing is that you control who has access to which video playlists and submission folders. You’ll be able to combine your own training videos with a space for your employees to upload their own recordings. They’ll get powerful feedback on their work and continuously improve the quality of their daily activities.  Managers might even be tempted to work at home -- giving pointed, effective feedback while enjoying a nice cup of coffee (in their pajamas).

Seven Different Reasons Why All Skills Learning will Rely on Video in Just a Few Years

So much education is about hands-on skills, from the skilled trades to health professions to the arts and beyond. Obviously, students learning these skills are given opportunities to learn by doing, but one key technology is now starting to be used so students learn their skills better, faster, and have more confidence. That technology isn’t fancy virtual reality or something powered by AI. It’s just video, but it’s video that’s recorded on students’ own phones. We used to think video in education was about watching how things are done. That’s 90's technology and pedagogy. Now, video for education has been flipped upside-down so its real power is students recording themselves to see how they’re doing and how they can do better. This isn’t catching on quickly, but eventually every skills learner will be self-recording for reflection and feedback.

This is all part of the skills revolution in pedagogy and getting past The Content Bias in Edtech, as we wrote in a recent post.

Here are seven reasons why EVERY skills program -- from nursing to welding to music to business presentations --  will be using student-recorded video in a few years.  

But first, a question:

If you’re in hospital and a just-graduated nurse is operating a new pump to keep fluids or medication flowing into you at the right rate… Would you rather the new nurse had:

  1. Passed a written test on operating the pump; or
  2. Done a rushed simulation in person once with an instructor watching and giving some written feedback; or
  3. Practiced many times on the pump while self-recording on a phone, reflected on what could be done better, then got peer and instructor feedback, and then tried again and received the instructor’s stamp of approval. 

I know what my answer would be.

Reason 1: Effectiveness

Evidence is now beginning to pile up in favor of students’ self-recording, watching, and reflecting, and getting feedback from their expert instructors. We see this in studies in Nursing and other health professions education (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). The results are similar in education for skilled trades (here), in teacher education and school leadership (here, and here), and in client relations and presentations (here, here, here. and here). 

For one thing, we’re human and a lot of the time we don’t believe we’re doing something wrong until we see it. We heard from a young Dentistry professor, teaching Master’s-level dental students a specialty procedure, that her students regularly deny that they have made a little mistake operating on a plastic model. Then they see the video, swallow their pride (pun intended), and admit they need to practice it again to do it better.

Educational research shows that being a self-regulated learner, capable of honest reflection and taking feedback to heart, makes a big difference in skills learning. When video recording is done with buy-in from learners, not only does the performance of that particular skill improve, but they also learn how to self-regulate so that all of their learning becomes more effective.

Finally, there can be no doubt that practice makes perfect. But how much practice? Almost every skills educator will tell you that their students don’t practice enough. Why? Because there’s no teacher or trainer looming over them to watch them practice. But with phone video and cloud storage that just doesn’t apply any more. If you want students to practice, tell them to practice, self-record, and upload. Instructors don’t have to watch every minute; they just have to know that it’s being done. We even think this applies to youth sports – kids and parents are so competitive, why don’t they demand that the coach assigns homework?!?

Despite greater effectiveness… Unfortunately in education effectiveness doesn’t always drive curriculum and technology decisions. That’s because it’s so hard to measure effectiveness. So we need to look at other reasons why all skills learning will use student-recorded video in a few years’ time.

Reason 2: Cost

Students don’t have someone watching them practice in person enough. It simply costs too much. There isn’t time for teachers to be there. So self-recording while practicing or demonstrating skills is a huge cost-saver.

Part of this is that in-person assessment and feedback takes a lot more time than the actual performance of the skill. Probably double the time.

Take a nursing student doing a head-to-toe exam. Doing a role-play with another student, this takes about 10 minutes. But getting into the room, getting into position, starting and finishing takes about another 5. If the instructor has time to give feedback, it probably takes another 5, as the student takes notes.

If the students self-record and upload, the instructor doesn’t have to leave the office. The 10 minute video can be watched and feedback given in about 12 minutes, maybe even in less than 10 minutes, skipping forward or playing at a faster speed, with a few feedback points given at the exact moments in the video.  

That’s a 40% savings in the instructor’s time. That time is a lot of money.

Skills programs are eventually going to recognize this because they’ll be able to properly teach more students with the same resources and produce better learning. The economics of not using video just don’t add up any more.

Reason 3: Accessibility

We know that video breaks barriers of time and space. In this case, it means that students and instructors don’t have to be in the same place at the same time. It isn’t just online programs that are wanting to make learning accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime; even on-campus programs want to make learning more accessible for students, including those with work or family commitments, or cost barriers to travel and accomodation.

Being able to do a skill, get feedback, and get assessed on it, from a distance, makes skills learning far more accessible. Even when the skills need to be learned in a specific context with equipment or materials provided by the school, students may be able to access them at times when instructors aren’t there (evenings!) and use video to get feedback. And think of skills that need to be learned on-location, in the field, like fitting valves on a pipeline. Video can make this far more accessible and cost-effective.

We heard a student in a French class at UBC in Vancouver say that recording her own skill (a presentation) “allowed me to create a presentation that I did not have to present in front of an entire class. I could record it at home, which meant I did not have to find childcare for my son, which I would have if we had presented in office hours. I still got the practice and feedback from my prof.”

Reason 4: Changing learner needs and demands

Every educator knows that students are less passive than they used to be. They are demanding that they graduate with competence and confidence in the skills they’re learning. At the same time, employers need specific, repeatable skills less than in the past. So employers and learners want programs to produce students with a great feel for the various skills in their professional domain. That means students are demanding more practice. They’re choosing programs based in Competency-based Learning.

Students and educators are also making learning more social than it ever has been. Group work, team-based learning, peer-review and peer-instruction are all finding their way into curriculum and classes. Students have more agency and more creativity in this context.  Since video is now such a ubiquitous and cheap mode of documenting learning and communicating, it seems natural that students will want to have a video camera in their hands to show that they’ve learned and to make original contributions to knowledge and dialogue. Quite simply, the evolving expectations of learners over the next fifty years will mean that they will ask for ways to show what they can do and get feedback from their teachers.

Reason 5: Changing teaching culture

Gradually, the cultures of teaching and course design are meeting students new expectations. Teachers, professors, instructors, trainers now want to see their students develop skills and confidence. Look at it this way: almost no new teachers, at any level, are content to do what was done to them and just talk at students and give papers and exams. They are now noticing all the educational research that shows learning involves deliberate practice with feedback, social support, agency, and modelling or mentorship from their teachers. Here’s the seminal article on deliberate practice by Anders Ericsson and colleagues.

Programs that are skills-heavy, especially the hands-on skills programs but also interpersonal skills programs, are noticing that their newer instructors are not afraid of students having a lot more control of their learning. Putting cameras in the hands of these learners makes sense to a new generation of teachers and course designers.

Reason 6: Rapidly changing technology

Skill programs, especially ones that involve the operation of technology, have to deal with the cost of that equipment. Think of a program in Automated Controls Installation and Maintenance. The technology they use must change all the time. Testing students using printed or even online materials would require a massive effort to keep up, year by year. But if students are simply operating the equipment and recording themselves, the assessment can be right to the point: Can the student do the job or do they need some coaching? The key here is that a student learns to operate equipment and solve problems in a given area, so it doesn’t even matter if the equipment is a bit out of date.

The student can then keep the video to show mastery of the skills to employers.

Reason 7: Badging and Blockchain for Qualifications

Which brings us to the final reason: Badging, Blockchain, Portfolios, AI and so on.

Resumes and interviews are dying out as employers look to hire hard-working, skilled, reliable people. In the software world most employers give extended problem-based tests to job-seekers. Other firms ask a candidate to come in for a day or a week and actually work.  Instead of resumes and interviews, employers are looking at Badges earned on short courses; ePortfolios showing the actual work that the person has done, including reflection on it; and various forms of network recommendations like LinkedIn.

What better way to prove that you can do something than by pointing an employer to video – hosted on your ePortfolio. Even better is if the course instructor or another expert has left comments and the student herself has reflected on the demonstration of competency. That shows humility, the ability to learn from coaching, and hopefully, that the learner mastered the technique.

HOW?

So how do you let students upload video assignments? Some of the big Learning Management Systems allow students to upload video, but they don’t really accommodate peer-learning or time-specific comments. For that you’ll need to go with these asychronous video tools:

  • WeVu – a very flexible, low-cost video platform for student-to-teacher and teacher-to-student video with groups, assignments, and time-specific annotations.
  • Bongo – a fully featured solution that includes structured question-and-answer assignments and grading with rubrics.
  • Practice.xyz – a solution for more structured challenges completed by learners and with guided peer feedback and upvoting.
  • Rehearsal – a more corporate-oriented solution where learners respond to video scenarios with their own video recorded on a webcam plus screencapture.

Education doesn’t move very fast in taking advantage of technological change to reinvent programs and curriculum. So it’ll take a few more years before all skills programs let learners learn from video of the learners themselves. I guess it took a while after the availability of paper and writing instruments for educators to shift from oral exams to written output, but it happened. Students could show that they could make an argument and communicate in an extended written form. Centuries later, smartphone video cameras and the cloud do something similar, breaking barriers of time and space for skills learning.

Ongoing Debriefing with Video for Health Simulation

You can get much more impact from your sims if you use video to let reflection, debriefing, and feedback take the time they need to sink in.

The power of simulation for learning has been clear for centuries. Even the mighty Roman military did simulations to make sure their armies were ready for battle. They also used simulation for soft skills so they could convince people in their conquered territories to be loyal citizens. (You’d never know this from Asterix, though.)

But the Romans didn’t have video to make debriefing happen powerfully anywhere across time and space. Now it’s so easy to record video, but the challenge is how to use it for simulation without breaking the bank — and how to break free of the constraints of using video recorded only on fixed cameras in a fancy simulation lab.

Finally, simulation in health professions is becoming mainstream. INACSL, the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation Learning has thousands of members and a big conference every year where simulation educators share knowledge and experiences. While simulation educators like high-fidelity, carefully scripted and organized simulations, there is a move to incorporate much more flexible, low-cost simulation and skills learning more frequently in nursing programs. This approach goes by a few names including “the frugal sim”, “low cost simulation”, “low-fidelity simulation”.  There’s even a site called lowcostsim.wordpress.com with plenty of advice for “Medical Simulation on a Shoestring.” The problem is that in places that need low cost simulation, video debriefing has been out of reach.

Simulation educators feel a tension between, on one hand, the high cost and logistical challenges of recording video, and on the other, the limited value of the video in a traditional debriefing where the participants gather immediately following the simulation. But this tension can be overcome with a slight change to how educators conceive of debriefing. 

Instead of a debriefing event, held in-person at one time, educators might think of a debreifing process that occurs as a dialogue over time and space. It includes not only facilitated debriefing, but “self-debriefing” reflection, which is just as effective. When debriefing is a process rather than an event, not only will it be more flexible, convenient and cheaper, but it will probably have a greater impact on learning. The Cloud has made this possible and now you could even say it’s easy. For quite a few years we’ve all been having discussions that are not in real time, using our devices: text messaging, Facebook, Slack, and even comments on Word or Google Docs.  That approach will work for simulation debriefing if we can just combine it with a video of the simulation. But can it be done in a low-cost simulation context?

Some of the simulation-specific video solutions, like EMS SimulationIQ, bundled with or an add-on to simulation equipment, are fairly expensive. Instead, low-cost sim educators should consider WeVu, a lightweight, inexpensive video system for education. WeVu allows recording with any camera, including webcams or phones, and then lets you share, make comments, and have a dialogue right along the timeline of the video.  With low-cost recording and an affordable video platform, debriefing happens over time and space. It’s more convenient and less taxing for educators and it has a bigger impact on learners, since they can take the time to consider how they’ve performed, get feedback, and ask questions about how to improve.

Here's how video works to make debriefing really stick

You would define the simulation or skills practice activity. Record with a laptop and webcam or an old smartphone on a little phone tripod (from Amazon). Make sure your audio is adequate – iphones are pretty good, some android phones are not bad, and a webcam with a speakerphone as the mic is probably best.

Tell your learners to use the top half of one page in Word and type their name in a bold, 48-point font, along with any other details like a student number. Then at the very start of each recording, your learners should hold up that half-page in front of the camera when the recording starts.

After all the simulations are done, you’ll just go to WeVu and upload them. You can then assign them to each learner’s own account and to an assignment (the names they held up on that sheet are on the thumbnail of the video in WeVu). Then you’re ready to ask them to self-debrief, reflecting on their performance in the simulation, which has been shown to really improve learning (here too). Instructors or coaches can go on and provide pointed feedback. Learners can then even ask questions along the video about how they can do better.

This even works for assigning students some skills practice. Tell them to record themselves or each other and then upload to the assignment you’ve defined in WeVu. It’s that easy. You’ll get all the submissions organized in one place and can watch some of it and give feedback. That will surely save time, as compared to waiting for students to file in and do the skills over and over in person. Learners will get feedback they can reflect on after the fact, rather than in the immediate aftermath of the simulation or skill exercise, when their hearts are still thumping too hard to benefit from the debrief. 

Step by Step Guide to cheap, effective video auditions for music and voice – Part 2

In this two part series, I provide a guide that helps you do an effective video audition for post-secondary music programs, on a budget. I’ll dive in to the differences in sound quality between premium recording equipment, dirt cheap audio recording, and the mic that’s on your iPhone. You will be guided through the step by step procedures of how to set up this equipment, buy or borrow it cheaply, and edit it quickly with great results.

Part 2: Video Best Practices and Audio-Video Synchronization 

In this two part series, we guide you to do an effective video audition for post secondary music programs, on a budget. We’ll dive in to the differences in sound quality between premium recording equipment, dirt cheap audio recording, and the mic that’s on your iPhone. You will be guided through the step by step procedures of how to set up this equipment, buy it cheaply, and edit it with speed.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to record your audio and video simultaneously through separate equipment. We’ll show you how to set up and record various audio equipment (Part One) and how to maximize your phone’s video camera (Part Two).

THINGS YOU WILL NEED

iPhone (or Android, or whatever other device you have for video).

Clean Room With a Window

Clutter will look unprofessional and could affect the room’s acoustics, colouring your tone in unpleasant ways.

Natural light beats artificial light when you’re on a shoestring budget so try to shoot in a room with a window.

Lamps and/or Daylight

Try to choose only white or yellow light and avoid blue light sources. When combined with daylight, white and/or yellow lights can give off a very professional and pleasant look.

Try to stagger your light sources height and length wise. For instance, combine your window with a lamp on a desk and a flood light on the floor.

Face towards your light sources and have the camera face away from them. You never want light coming from behind you in these videos.

Gig-Appropriate Attire

Most music schools require you to wear a full black suit to performances so dress business casual at least.

Something to Hold your Phone

Under no circumstances should you have another person holding your phone or even a good camera. The device MUST be stable. Everyone should have a mini flexible tripod for their phone, especially musicians. Here’s the Amazon.com search for “phone tripod”. They’re not indestructable, but they’re pretty good value for 12 dollars!

If you have a good camera and a real tripod, that’s a great alternative to the phone for the video.

Combining your Audio and Video

You’ve already read about how to get good quality audio recordings on the cheap in Part 1 of this series.

Import your audio and video both to iMovie. Leave the volume on your video untouched for the time being.

Line up the wavelengths from your video audio and your exported mp3/WAV audio that you recorded using your DAW. You’re basically just matching the pictures of the sound here so that they’re in sync.

Slide down your the video’s audio until it’s muted.

Watch through the whole video to see that your video is perfectly lined up with the audio from your DAW.

Finally, export your video as MP4 or .MOV to 720p or 1080p if possible. Some newer phones shoot in 4k- this won’t make your performance better and will make it exponentially longer to export.

Then, if you want to share your video in a secure way for others to comment on, sign up for your own private audition video hosting site at WeVu.video!

Click here for part 1 of this series to learn best practices on recording audio

We’re working on part 3, where we will compare the audio fidelity of cheap, mid-level, and premium recording setups.