Presentation Spotlight - Opencast for Everything: Consultation Skills

Opencast for Everything with link to slides in Google docs

Opencast has been used as the Ubiquitous lecture capture platform for the University of Manchester since 2013. During the teaching year of 2017/18, 60,000 hours of lectures were recorded with 6,000,000 views from students and staff. Opencast being open source software allowed us to deploy in teaching spaces to an unprecedented scale while giving us the flexibility to adapt the platform to meet the requirements of the academic staff and student needs.

There has been a growing appetite to record, archive and distribute more than just the traditional didactic style teaching content. Opencast has been used to capture laboratories, marketing and communications, live arts/music festivals and research events among others.

Another major use case for Opencast was to facilitate the recording of clinical, consultation skills sessions. Primarily used by the health sciences, clinical skills is a practical based teaching method for training and assessing learners. There are many faculties that offer curriculum based on clinical skills teaching including pharmacy, optometry, medicine and nursing. Generally these faculties have dedicated spaces to teach clinical skills often employing simulation techniques, hospital scenarios and actors to make it immersive and accurate.

The division of Nursing, Midwifery and Social care had existing clinical skills and simulation spaces. They had previously attempted to  implement a proprietary CCTV-like system in the clinical skills spaces that didn't meet the requirements given by academic staff and had no integration into university systems students and staff interact with like the LMS or video portal.

As we could make fundamental changes to Opencast this allowed us to adapt it to recording clinical skills sessions and we embarked on a project to equip each of the clinical skills spaces with camera based capture equipment. This allowed for the self-generation of content at high quality. The system was also designed to be very easy to use and highly integrated into the university video portal with Opencast handling the processing, archive, security and distribution of the video.

The recording of clinical, consultation skills teaching has utility for training, reflective learning and examination/assessment. Training and reflective learning are generally seen as OK for recording however examination and assessment recording is considered by some taboo. One of the major concerns raised is around examination defensibility by students. Students in the school of medicine have objective structured clinical examinations (OSCE’s). These examinations may be taken by 500 students. It is considered not possible to record all of these examinations by traditional means. Using Opencast, recording at scale can become a ‘one button’ approach for academics and administrators. It then becomes trivial to record large cohorts of student individual examinations. The reviewing of recorded OSCE’s at scale still may be difficult however it is also beneficial as it was found that it could be used to normalise examiner results thus help to remove bias1.

We received preliminary positive feedback:

Students said: The recording system has a “really fast turnaround time”

Academic and Administration staff said: The recording system was “Easy to use” and they “Loved the self service aspect”


  1. Yeates, P. , Cope, N. , Hawarden, A. , Bradshaw, H. , McCray, G. and Homer, M. (2019), Developing a video‐based method to compare and adjust examiner effects in fully nested OSCEs. Med Educ. doi:10.1111/medu.13783

Slides of presentation on Google Docs