Video killed the learning star

If you are my vintage, you will recall the classic song from The Buggles, Video Killed the Radio Star. As most of you know, this song is a reference to concerns about 20th-century inventions and machines.

The song was a number one hit and went on to be a catch cry of my time. We know that video has changed lots in our world – especially in our profession. It is clear now, more than ever, I that video is a great source for teaching. With platforms such as You Tube and Vimeo, video learning is now a reality. Anyone has the ability to record a video, create an account and upload it to YouTube. Credentials? You don’t need any. Credibility?
None required. If you have a camera and a microphone, you can do it. The video community who watch these videos judge the quality and effectiveness. The community can make you and the community can break you. Not everyone can do it and, for that matter, not everyone is doing it. Many people speak well on their feet but don’t feel comfortable doing YouTube videos.
However, some make a very good income from YouTube marketing and affiliations. And others do it for the love of teaching and not the money.

Now there is a new player in town and, although very similar in format, the platform is quite different.

Live video streaming “Video is video” you may say but boy, when it’s live and spontaneous it is different. Whereas with YouTube you can cut, edit and get it perfect, have it peer reviewed and customised before you upload it, with live video these opportunities are missing. Let me state that these qualities in video are important, especially when your brand is at stake and you rely on

Ultimate Fighting Championship live event – no, not my sport of choice but it was live, the atmosphere was building and the crowd and commentator were at fever pitch – so I watched it. I can’t say I am a convert, but I sat there for a few minutes after the event asking myself why did I just watch a sport that I have no interest in? Why did I spend 15-20 minutes watching two guys go hell for leather at each other? Then it dawned on me – it was live and it was engaging. YouTube videos are at times engaging but they are not live. They are very informative and chock full of how-to and practical advice and some even engage with the audience quite well, but they are not live.

The live aspect for me is the added dimension that I enjoy and get the biggest kick from. Similarly to a sporting event, not knowing what will happen next and how something may transpire is what keeps me interested in learning. That is why I also enjoy Twitter – it has that ‘live’ feeling to it. I get its spontaneity, although some tweets are rehearsed and targeted, it is that appearance in my ‘live’ feed that excites me when I receive a tweet. Watching someone or a group speak or interact live adds something special to the viewing experience. One of the biggest draws at conference events is the ability to watch a speaker live and even have the opportunity to interact with them. You are drawn to the event because you will be able listen to the speaker, get their book and, if you are lucky, have a drink with them after the event.

To do this you have to fork out some money – but what if you could do most of these activities and not have to pay as much? What if you could view your favourite speaker, listen to them present their latest thoughts and maybe even interact with them – all live – via your tablet, PC, iMac or even your smartphone on the bus, at home, at the library or even during work hours as part of your professional development commitment?

I attended a learning event in Melbourne recently and started to think how many of my colleagues and other L&D professionals did not have the opportunity to attend due to travel, availability or cost restraints. I thought that one way I could promote the event but also provide a glimpse of the quality of the event was to stream live. After all, there was no formal videotaping of the event so, unless you were there, you needed to rely on tweets or a blog post after the event.

Spontaneous learning

I decided to Periscope ( It was live, spontaneous learning and it was offering others a chance to listen and hear key points made by the panel members – at the same time that I was. The results of my fish bowl Periscopes were 80 live viewers for my first Periscope and 29 for the second one. Great figures given there was no earlier announcement that I was doing this. A clear message, I think, that my followers, and others, enjoyed the experience and got value from the live stream.

Another situation arose a few weeks later when a colleague of mine was to receive an award. It was to be presented as part of an already sold-out event and thus many of our other colleagues would not have had the opportunity to be present.

Also, the family members of the recipient were not all able to attend. What a great opportunity to share the event and the occasion with all these people. I started wondering how something like that could be used in corporate or other situations. I can see how it could be very useful for a CEO chat or a panel discussion where you wish to field questions from employees or clients from anywhere in the world.

As Periscope is integrated with Twitter, as soon you go live with Periscope all your followers receive a tweet stating the event being broadcast and a link to join in and watch. This integration with social media is a powerful feature of Periscope and one that has seen it overtake Meerkat (

Some say it is not appropriate that you film a live event or that it is not fair on the organisers and the other participants. Although I appreciate that point of view, let me remind them that the world is a smaller place. My phone is my world and my world is connected.

My aim is to share my learning whenever and however I can. So when I am listening and learning and believe that others may also benefit from the same learning, I like to share the knowledge there and then.

Expand the accessibility

The opportunity is there for L&D conference and event organisers to think broadly about their offerings – to look at different ways they can embrace the available technology and expand the accessibility of the event to others. This is something we are looking at very closely at the Institute for

Learning Professionals in Australia ( as we start to put together a unique event for 2017. A proposed virtual L&D conference where those who wish to participate face-to-face can, and those who want to participate virtually can also be part of the event. Exciting times ahead! I

In addition, I believe those who wish to work out loud can and should be using something like Periscope. Live streaming parts of a team planning day, such as a key note speech, can support the engagement strategies of the organisation and facilitate collaborative working across geographically dispersed teams, while also allowing others to listen and interact if required.

The other platform that has revolutionised live video streaming and, in my view, has a greater potential for learning than Periscope, is Blab ( In order to explain what Blab is, I’ll use the fish bowl analogy – four people occupy seats via four video chat screens, one person is the host, aka moderator, who has control on who can join the video chat seats, and all others listen and participate using the chat facility on the right hand side of the Blab screen (see picture).

Why do I think this will have a bigger impact than Periscope? It centres on the ability to interact with a few people personally while allowing others to listen to the chat.

Think of it as having two or three experts chatting away at a coffee shop, sharing thoughts and ideas and others being able to listen in. Now take that further and allow your audience to also ask questions, live, using one of the video chairs or through the chat facility, and more importantly, allowing your audience to drive the direction of the conversation by requesting a change in the topic.

Once again, all this is integrated with Twitter and, with Blab, you can even integrate it with Facebook, so there’s an added bonus. Blab can play a key role in your next blended learning programme. All you need is some clever designing and creative delivery. Blab can also support a virtual conference with one camera spot allocated to the guest presenter, one on the conference audience and the other available to virtual participants to take up.

How you use Blab or Periscope is really up to you. What is important is that you embrace these platforms and take a good look at them. Ask, question and discuss how these platforms can support your existing learning interventions.

Think about how these platforms can support your new planned interventions. Discuss with your team how you can use these platforms for your team interactions. Demand that conference organisers start to explore these platforms for future events. Take the opportunity to Periscope from your next learning conference. Watch how others are using these platforms, learn and explore.

My advice is: embrace, explore, enjoy.


About the author

Con Sotidis is a senior learning and performance consultant with LearnKotch Consulting. You can find Con on the following social media platforms: @LearnKotch. LinkedIn: Con Sotidis, YouTube: LearnKotch

Consulting and Google+: Costa Sots

My aim is to share my learning whenever and however I can.

Note: Since writing the article, Blab has been shut down. We have been promised a new, bigger and better Blab – see https://


Con Sotidis on the #TJwow webinar


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