Blended Collaboration Field Guide


Emerging Media Exploration (EMEX) Consortium: University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF (Germany); Tampere University (Finland); Tampere University of Applied Sciences (Finland); University of Lincoln (United Kingdom); University of Central Lancashire (United Kingdom). Erasmus+ Grant agreement no.: 2018-1-DE01-KA203-004282


This document presents a range of how-to guides for facilitating online collaboration in the context of emerging media. These guides address the collaboration infrastructure adopted by the EMEX consortium, as well as indicating how these tools and approaches can be implemented by other educators (further reflections on the blended learning platforms employed throughout EMEX can be found here). This blended collaboration field guide addresses the following topics:

  1. Digital Whiteboards
  2. Communication Tools
  3. Online Practical Workshops
  4. Live Streaming in an Educational Context
  5. Creating Online Content
  6. Virtual Production Set-Ups


Digital whiteboard services have become increasingly integral to educators, designers and businesses as a means of facilitating online collaboration. While the EMEX consortium opted to use Mural, there are numerous services available that allow teams to collaborate online via a digital canvas. According to Zapier (2021), these services replicate traditional physical methods of problem-solving, ideating, and organising tasks but also include the following benefits:

  • Unlimited canvas. While physical whiteboards certainly have size restrictions, going digital should mean that you're no longer limited in how big or complex your visualizations are.
  • Collaboration features. Cloud apps should allow easy collaboration (real-time preferred) and comments by users. Desktop apps should allow adequate cloud file sharing/syncing across devices.
  • Ability to attach files. You should be able to attach links, images, and other files to your whiteboard for easy reference.
  • Presentation options. Because whiteboards are so often at the core of a collaborative process, you should be able to share your digital whiteboard online or export it.
  • Accessible on mobile devices. Whether you're working on your own ideas or collaborating with a team, chances are high that you'd like to have access to the whiteboard even if you're not seated at your desk.


Mural is a digital whiteboard platform that enables teams to collaborate visually and problem-solve faster with an easy-to-use digital canvas. Mural was instrumental in all phases of the EMEX project, providing a platform for the team to plan and organise tasks, as well as being used by students and tutors during the online courses. Key features of Mural include virtual 'sticky notes', the ability to upload images, share web content, embed video, and vote on the best ideas to develop during ideation activities. Below is a short introduction to Mural that provides an overview of how to use these features effectively:



Discord is a digital distribution platform that integrates topic-based channels, instant messaging, video calls, and streaming. Discord facilitates collaboration and discussion between online communities through the use of invite-only servers. Servers are discreet collections of voice and text channels that can include up to 800,000 members. Text channels are spaces for text-based communication that keep conversations organized and focussed. Voice channels are spaces where users can hang out over voice and video with other members of the community who enter the channel. These features made Discord an ideal communication tool for the EMEX project [Fig. 1], as it enabled individual channels to be created for each course. Not only did this help to facilitate collaboration between team members, it also provided a space for tutors to share learning materials throughout the project. For further information and advice, please visit 'The Beginner's Guide To Discord'.

Fig. 1 - EMEX server on Discord


Gather.town was used during the second and third iterations of the EMEX project as a communication tool and virtual meeting room where participants could interact with each other during the online courses and group presentation events. Gather is a social platform, where virtual rooms can be built to host remote social gatherings and meetings. Participants can enter the room with an avatar and walk through it by using the arrow keys. In contrast to video chat platforms like Zoom or Skype where anyone with an mic can be heard at the same time, Gather aims to recreate the ambiance of a physical meeting by adjusting the volume of nearby participants. This allows participants to choose who to speak with by moving their avatar towards each other. Avatars can be customised by participants upon entry to the site, while someone hosting a meeting can use the in-built map builder feature to modify the look and feel of the environment by embedding visual features or files for other participants to interact with. Private spaces can also be created where only a select few people can talk to each other without getting interrupted, as well as spotlight points that allow certain participants to be heard by everyone in the room (which is an ideal function for presenting to all participants). Below is a comprehensive Gather tutorial:


The following section addresses an innovative approach for facilitating online practical workshops, which was piloted by lecturers at the University of Lincoln and further developed as part of the EMEX project. The innovation in question was introduced in response to the COVID-19 related disruptions to on-campus teaching, with the majority of the curriculum throughout 2020/21 being delivered via a blend of online and socially distanced approaches. This presented a particular challenge in terms of the delivery of practical, hands-on workshops that explore media equipment, software skills, and creative techniques. In response to these challenges, lecturers at the Lincoln School of Film of Media have developed a framework for live-streaming practical workshops that can facilitate remote participation and interaction, in addition to providing a technical setup for producing video tutorials.


The teaching team for BA Film Production at the University of Lincoln began experimenting with live streaming in early 2020 in order to facilitate the remote delivery of modules that provide technical training in all areas of film production, particularly cinematography and lighting. These modules typically involve practical workshops where students, technicians, learning advisors, and lecturers interact physically with technical equipment, usually in fairly confined studios, where students are able to follow along and ask questions. This approach was severely disrupted by COVID-19 measures, leading to a radical rethink of how these sessions could be replicated online. A solution to this challenge was introduced to BA Film Production through the use of multi-camera switchers like the Black Magic ATEM Mini. This enabled the teaching team to live stream their workshops, whilst students could follow along remotely from the safety of their homes. This set-up enables the feed from multiple cameras and viewfinders to be connected to the switcher, which means students can observe the wider set and lighting equipment, as well as observing how any adjustments can impact the final output. The feed from a laptop can also be inputted, which allows presentation notes and other content to be shared seamlessly with students [Fig.2].

Fig. 2 - A typical multi-camera set-up for streaming practical workshops using the ATEM Mini


This multi-camera set-up for streaming practical workshops using the ATEM Mini was further developed by the Digital Media and Innovative Design (DMID) department at the University of Lincoln. The DMID team adopted this approach in order to deliver a series of online workshops that explored virtual production and practical green screen techniques. The workshops featured three lecturers working together in the digital media production lab and were streamed live to the entire DMID cohort via Microsoft Teams [Fig. 3]. The sessions were also recorded and made available for students to rewatch at a later date. The technical set-up for these workshops included:

  • A wide shot of the entire green screen and lighting rig.
  • A medium shot of a presenter/lecturer who was able to engage with students and provide instructions.
  • A live feed of the camera monitor.
  • Inputs from various scopes so adjustments could be observed in real-time.
Fig. 3 - Online Virtual Production Workshop at the Lincoln School of Film & Media


  • Each student has simultaneous access to the viewfinder, monitors and wider set.
  • Helps students to understand menus and reinforce knowledge of creative techniques by observing how changes to the camera and lighting can affect the final output on camera.
  • Fosters interaction and collaboration as students can ask questions and seek support in real-time.
  • Encourages experimentation with DIY set-ups and techniques.
  • Students are able to rewatch workshops in their own time.
  • Provides a technical set-up for recording video tutorials, which present further opportunities for flipped-classroom and blended-learning approaches.


In addition to the technical set-up addressed above, the EMEX project has experimented with various modes of streaming in an educational context. This section will reflect on these examples and provide some advice on how to get started with streaming. In recent years, online streaming services like Twitch and Uscreen have become extremely popular - with 24% of all streamed video content now being delivered through live streaming platforms (Conviva, 2021). According to Twitch's 'Introduction to Streaming Set Ups', the most important things to consider are:

  • Streaming software - A live streaming platform is an online tool that allows you to upload and broadcast video content in real-time, as opposed to recording and uploading it after the event. This also includes broadcasting software like OBS.
  • Hardware - Most mid-tier computers (including PCs and Macs) should be able to run a basic game, webcam/audio software, and your broadcasting software.
  • A solid internet connection is required for a stable connection.
  • Audio - Providing good audio can significantly change the perception of your stream, and sometimes even make or break the entire viewing experience for your audience. Be sure to assess the type of content you create and choose your microphone accordingly.
  • Video - You should consider aspects like camera location, angle, lighting, and positioning. These can enhance even the most basic camera without breaking the bank. As with audio, the type of content you create may help determine how much effort and budget you place into your camera.


Graham Cooper (Lecturer at the University of Lincoln) has been experimenting with online streaming in order to share his experiences with 3D graphics software like Blender. Twitch.tv/jayumcooper was established by Graham during lockdown as a means of figuring out how to connect with online audiences while teaching and learning new software skills. The channel became a space for Graham to reflect on his own learning as he familiarised himself with Blender, where viewers could interact in real-time, ask questions, set design challenges and follow along (or 'build along') with tutorials. Graham created a dedicated Discord server where the audience could share screenshots of their works-in-progress and final renders. This was inputted into OBS, which allowed Graham, to switch between his camera, computer screen, and Discord feed in order to review and provide feedback in real-time [Fig. 4]. OBS also allowed Graham to set up scenes and transitions rather than sharing a single, static view. This live streaming set-up has helped Graham to create an engaging educational community.

Fig. 4 - Live streaming set-up, twitch.tv/jayumcooper



Virtual Production is a collective term for a wide range of computer-based methods that are designed to enhance creativity and save time during the filmmaking process. The use of real-time tools can transform traditional linear production into a parallel process in which the boundaries between preproduction, production and post-production are blurred, so making the entire system more flexible. Unlike a traditional workflow, VP allows real-time scenery changes while providing more accurate, realistic lighting, and ultimately increases team productivity. Virtual Production methods have been a central focus of EMEX, with a number of tutorials and learning materials being produced:


A YouTube channel called Virtual Production Academy has been created as part of the EMEX project to help students and other educators how to set up a Virtual Production studio with virtually no budget at all. In addition to addressing what equipment is required for a DIY green screen studio, this series addresses the application of game engine software like Unreal in the context of virtual production.


Mozilla Hubs is a virtual collaboration platform that runs in your browser. Hubs allows users to create 3D environments without specialist software skills, which can be shared with others via a URL. Mozilla Hubs was used throughout EMEX for ideation, prototyping, and concept visualisations. A video tutorial for getting started with Hubs can be found below:


In the video below, Evgeny Kalachikin speaks about Volumetric Video and Virtual Production as part of TAMK iWeek 2021. The event was hosted by the EMEX consortium at the Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Finland, on 23.03.2021