As leaders and executives try to navigate what government and business looks like in a post COVID-19 reality, they can learn a lot from their peers in China who have settled into the new normal and found success.

Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University was an early adopter of Mediasite for online learning in 2020 as the coronavirus quickly spread in China. The long-time Mediasite user converted to a 100 percent online campus in just days, giving all faculty access to Mediasite’s personal capture software to record on-demand lectures for 14,000 students to watch. During the first two days of the semester, they created more than 2,000 videos that students viewed nearly 100,000 times in the Moodle learning management system. Those are incredible usage numbers! Plus, the instructors already had all their academic video content from previous years to share with students.

The university is seeing such success because it understands an important piece of their virtual learning puzzle that other institutions may be overlooking: 

There’s incredible value in mixing on-demand video learning with real time collaboration via web conferencing. Striking that balance is key.

How most successful people are doing it

Think of it this way: If conferencing systems like Microsoft Teams & Zoom are your virtual, real-time meeting spaces, on-demand streaming video is your reference library. The flipped meeting concept, blending on-demand content with real-time discussion, has never been more relevant than it is today.  Here’s what our successful customers do:

  • At the beginning of the week, people read info about what they’re working on.
  • During the middle of the week, they watch pre-recorded Mediasite videos via their learning management system or video portals.
  • At the end of the week, people meet and have discussions via Teams about the videos and the info they’ve been working on


“I don’t use the Zoom meeting to deliver content, I use it to discuss content,” said Roberto Dona, a professor in XJTLU’s business school in a recent Campus Technology article “Remote Learning on the Fly: Notes from China.” “The students are obliged to study to prepare themselves and we have the entire virtual class period to discuss. By combining live and on demand classes, I am not just replacing the physical class, I can enhance the course.”

As organisations have been adopting online learning strategies, it’s important to recognize which tools are effective for different aspects of online communications and audience engagement. People don’t want to sit in a Teams or Zoom meeting and listen to other people talk at them for an hour. That’s not engaging and it doesn’t allow for self-paced learning of important material. Sitting in a meeting room is one thing but sitting through a distracting web conference to just be talked at is not ideal.

People see meetings like textbooks or assigned reading. You wouldn’t expect people to show up for a face to face meeting and have the presenter or team leader read from a textbook while the audience passively listens. So why try to do it in a live meeting? People prefer content to be served up to them on-demand so they can self-pace and time-shift their learning, which is one of the key benefits of on-demand streaming video.

‘Zoomed Out’

In the April 2 Chronicle of Higher Education article, ‘Zoomed Out’: Why ‘Live’ Teaching Isn’t Always the Best, Tanya Joosten, a senior scientist and director of digital learning research and development at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee (the university is a Mediasite user), says that professors are flocking to real-time videoconferencing because it feels initially like the best alternative for teaching face to face. However, that is not the best way to teach online.

“Videoconferencing tools end up encouraging ‘Teacher-centered learning,” Joosten said in the article.

The reporter writes that while these platforms are meant to “facilitate multiway interaction,” they quickly turn into “one-way communication after a certain number of people join in.”


Ready for tomorrow’s online teaching, research and meetings?

– Lectures: Mediasite
– Office hours: Zoom
– Course General communication: Twitter private accounts of my courses.
– Moodle

– Group meeting: Zoom
– Writing: prepare papers, prelims, grants and sponsor reports

— Nelson Vinueza (@nrvinueza) March 22, 2020

“You and me and four of our colleagues can jump into a Zoom room – OK,” Joosten said in the article. “Thirty of us jump into a Zoom room – how interactive is that? … When you put students in small groups, there’s peer learning. They can utilize each other as tech support. It’s just a much better way to go than trying to have these large-group, synchronous, live sessions to replicate the face-to-face.” [Read the full article here.]

The 3 Pillars to Successful Virtual Learning

Like anything, the right tool for the job is critical. Fully virtualized campuses need to establish three pillars of technology to be successful.

  1. Web conferencing: Zoom was the immediate go-to tech for most campuses. Yes, it’s great for office hours, real-time dialogue with students, for students working together on projects. But that’s just one piece of it.
  2. Streaming video: This lets students learn at their own pace. It’s perfect for lectures, micro-learning or delivering content ahead of an office hours or group dialog session on Zoom. Students are pushing back because they don’t see use of Zoom/Teams as effective for lectures. They want on-demand video recordings to watch on their own time.
  3. The LMS: A learning management system is the obvious structure to all of this, whether in person or virtual.

How to find that balance

Zoom is not the end-all, be-all of technologies for going virtual, though it certainly plays a major role as the new “virtual classroom.” Mediasite is playing an equally major role of “library/textbook/advanced reading before that virtual class.”

Don’t just focus on being synchronous (live). Flipping instruction during this crisis and not simply replicating the classroom model online is critical to the success of this new normal now and as schools prepare for the likely possibility of a virtual fall semester.

Post crisis once classes resume on campus, a blended approach to virtual learning is the likely path. There won’t be a world where campuses stay 100 percent virtual, so a mix of physical and virtual classrooms together with online learning is the more persistent long-term solution.

Dona, the XJTLU business school instructor, agrees.

“Instead of my taking 20 to 30 minutes to explain a theory in a class of 50 where some students already know it, technology can allow those who don’t understand the concept to drill into that information. I then have more time to spend doing individual coaching,” he said. “Now that we have had this experience with online teaching, I don’t think we will every go back entirely to the way we taught before.”

Read the full Campus Technology article about XJTLU here.