It’s been 6 months since I joined Blackboard, having now spent almost 20 years of my professional life in the educational learning technologies space with organisations such as TAFE Qld, Skillsoft, Saba and the Study Group. The last 6 months has literally flown by, and I have been suitably impressed by the company’s efforts to “reimagine education” by bringing to the market a suite of new solutions and partnerships, not before time, as many long-time users of Blackboard will attest to.

Those who have known and worked with me over those 20 years will know that my passion extends to pedagogically sound learning design, collaborative technologies which foster engagement, and the use of simple and effective tools to develop and deliver video content, which I believe will continue to account for a greater percentage of embedded content in programs going forward. I read a Cisco report recently which suggested that 90% of internet traffic by 2017 will be video content (Cisco VNI: 2014), not hard to imagine with the rise of streaming content providers such as Netflix, Cloudland, Vudu and others. Add to this the amount of user generated content being pumped out through simple to use tools in most smartphones and tablets, and through portals such as Youtube and others, then it’s not difficult to see how these stats arise. But back to all things video shortly.

The Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector, which includes both public (TAFEs and schools) and private providers, is going through uncomfortable but necessary reforms as I write this. Regulatory reform to make all providers more accountable for the delivery of quality and fair education should be welcomed by all, particularly public providers who have seen the large share of government funding going to a small number of private providers, where in some instances, quality educational outcomes appear to be secondary, to producing healthy profits for investors and shareholders. Hopefully, a tougher regulatory environment will swing the pendulum from bums on seats more towards the delivery of quality educational experiences for the large proportion of students who either don’t aspire to a university degree, or wish to use the VET experience as a stepping stone to one. For a good summary of some of the changes coming, take a look at Javier Castillo’s (President ASTD) LinkedIn post at

Online learning has copped its fair share of criticism when it comes to the topic of delivering quality educational experiences, particularly in VET. I have worked for a few VET providers, both public and private, and whenever my teams developed curriculum, and particularly assessment, for any mode of VET delivery, whether it be face to face, blended or purely online, it was always important to reference the three contributory components of e-assessment that influence its veracity and authenticity: the specification of competence, the assessment process, and the integrity of assessment evidence. It’s this last item I’d like to focus on for a minute – integrity. As I indicated earlier, new standards for RTOs (registered training organisations) are coming in 2015. Javier’s link above details these changes.


E assessment risk components framework
An Australian guide to the risk management of VET online e-assessment

Until recently, it has been difficult to find simple to use, effective and efficient tools, for both students and staff, to address these components. Let’s talk video again. A couple of years ago, a typical assessment which required the submission of supporting evidence of a particular competence would see a student collect that evidence in the workplace via a smartphone, camera or other video capture device, possibly get that information onto a computer and in a compressed format which didn’t take hours to upload, upload it to a previously created Youtube, Vimeo, or similar account, then share that link privately or publicly as part of an LMS assignment submission process. Reverse this process for teachers wishing to provide video responses, or wishing to use external video content in their courses. Very tedious indeed!! Then along came some APIs which made the job of submitting video content a little easier through tighter integration with the LMS, but still tedious and short on functionality to really manage the video content once it’s been uploaded. Justin Hunt, aka the “Poodll guy”, has given it a good shot with a set of plugins for the Moodlerooms environment which allow audio and video content to be created within the plugins. However, for a complete video management solution, with a fantastic toolset, and seamless LMS integration, take a look at Kaltura.

I admit that I hadn’t heard of Kaltura until I joined Blackboard, but I shamelessly admit that I think it’s really been the missing link for organisations who want a complete set of video development, editing and management tools for their organisation, AND I truly believe it’s a great fit for VET sector organisations for its ability to address a number of the integrity of evidence issues indicated in the earlier diagram. Ok, yes, Blackboard is the reseller of Kaltura in ANZ, but that’s not going to stop me raving about what I think is currently one of the most innovative tech companies in the world at the moment. The more time I spend in it, the more I see how these tools are making life a hell of a lot easier for both students and academic staff when it comes to working with video content. Very cool indeed!! I’ll provide a more Kaltura specific blog post soon, but for now, if you are using video content, have the need to have students create, edit and add video content in their work, on the fly, and want a product which already has a number of LMS integrations, then take a look at Kaltura. Enough of the plug J (but it really is that good!)

Finally for this post, I wanted to mention one other of my passions (no, not cycling or fishing), but virtual classroom technologies. Many of you would probably be aware that Blackboard will shortly be coming out with its upgrade to the Blackboard Collaborate offering. Built on webRTC technology, Java is a thing of the past, and the clarity of the audio and HD video is something to behold. The user experience aligns with the new user interface to be released as part of the next generation LMS from Blackboard, Learn 2015. Currently in tech release, this upgrade is quicker to load, and provides an uncluttered user interface making it easier for both presenters and attendees to focus on a tool which has been specifically designed with education in mind. General availability will be sometime in late May, early June.

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  • Martin Dougiamas

    You said: “Justin Hunt, aka the “Poodll guy”, has given it a good shot with a set of plugins for the Moodlerooms environment” … I believe you meant *Moodle* environment. Six months is all it takes to forget, Grant? 🙂 Cheers