4 ways a GoPro can boost your campus profile

New case studies, innovative faculty reveal GoPro cameras aren’t just for sports enthusiasts.

Copyright: ymgerman /

3D printers, digital signage, educational video games—there’s just some technology that, while not vital to day-to-day campus operation, helps boost student engagement and communication, and ultimately makes your campus stand out from the competition.

Enter the GoPro camera. Often reserved for cool YouTube videos about extreme sports or creepy videos of cheerleaders hula-hooping, innovative institutions looking to technology as a branding and marketing tool are now using GoPro cameras to highlight campus life, build international brand awareness, enhance student campus activities, and even enrich lab work.

“In the past few years, [our Materials Science and Manufacturing] course has received negative feedback from students complaining that the lab sessions were ‘boring’ and ‘repetitive,’” explains Sara MsCaslin, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Tyler. “The goal of [using technology in the course] was to make use of GoPro HD Hero2 action camera kits to stimulate student interest in the lab material, increase their understanding of material failures, and improve their technical communication skills.”

According to McCaslin and co-authors of a recent case study, the GoPro did increase student engagement and technical skills communication.

Including the results of McCaslin’s case study, here are four ways your institution can benefit from GoPro camera technology:

1. To gain career perspective: Most of today’s college students want to know that the courses they’re taking are relevant to their future career field, as well as be certain in their choice of career. According to Lisa Tossey, social media community manager and editor for the National Marine Educators Association (who’s also a doctoral candidate at the University of Delaware, studying  educational technology with a focus on marine science), a GoPro camera can be used to help students gain perspective in their career.

For example, in 2011 REEF, a SCUBA diving community that works to contribute to the understanding and protection of marine populations, joined with collaborators to develop an education program.

The program includes curricular materials and classroom lessons, as well as “meet the scientist” and “live from the field” sessions, in which GoPro cameras were used. They worked in collaboration with educators and students, and with funding from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Program, they piloted the program during the aggregation field season in 2012.

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Another education project that uses GoPro cameras is Project Aether, which launches high altitude weather balloons in collaboration with institutions to teach students physics concepts, experimental research skills, and to make space exploration accessible.

Watch a Project Aether weather balloon lift a payload package composed of GoPro HD cameras, GPS tracking devices, and other science equipment:

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(Next page: Increase engagement; campus branding)

2. To increase student engagement, and enhance skills and understanding: Perhaps a no-brainer is the idea that incorporating a cool technology into a course will increase student engagement. But are there any setbacks; and do students actually learn anything?

These are the questions educators at the University of Texas at Tyler set out to answer. Students who took the University’s Materials Science and Manufacturing course—a required course in the mechanical engineering program—often said the course was boring and repetitive. Outside of getting students more engaged in the course, another goal was to “prepare students to present scientific results in a format that goes beyond paper and to an audience that extends beyond their professors and classmates.”

You can read the full case study here, but the conclusion was that while student engagement did increase, students said that GoPro cameras were only useful for specific kinds of reports and feedback—not for every activity and report; an observation the authors feel leads to the conclusion that implementing GoPro cameras into a lab setting requires an instructor’s experience in working with the camera and its capabilities. However, the instructor did perceive that student skill levels and understanding of lab concepts increased.

3. To capture student life on [and off] campus: As institutions continually try to recruit new students and set their campus apart from the competition, promoting student life and activities is a great strategy—especially with a GoPro. Here are a few ways to accomplish this, according to USA Today:

  • To promote your campus’ major athletics, like a football game—“I love using mine at football games because it is easy to carry around and produces high quality photos and videos,” says Melina Sutton, a senior American studies and ethnicity student at University of Southern California to USA Today. “It’s just so much easier to hold compared to a phone when you’re in the middle of it all.”
  • To promote the campus’ physical environment—Have features like lakes, mountains, or beautiful trails nearby? Have students use GoPro cameras to document their experiences.
  • To make a video collage of campus memories—Audrey Lau, a global and international studies student from University of California, Santa Barbara, took to vlogging about her campus memories on YouTube using a GoPro, since she says it gives a unique first-person perspective.
  • To promote campus sponsored events, like concerts, speakers, or any event with a large crowd—“Students with GoPros often want to get that unique footage that can allow them the flexibility to experiment and even make videos that can potentially go viral,” says USA Today.
  • To promote the studying abroad experience—Many students will have their own GoPro cameras as the popularity of this technology increases, so why not use their footage to promote the campus’ study abroad opportunities?

4. To increase your institution’s brand awareness: Last year the Institute for the Study of Knowledge in Education (ISKME) hosted a GoPro contest for educators, asking them to showcase ideas for how GoPro cameras can be used to create educational content. But ISKME is not the only organization hosting GoPro-inspired contests. A quick internet search will provide multiple links to contests featuring the use of a GoPro. Entering your institution, or a student’s work from the institution, in the contest can be one way to promote brand awareness and demonstrate technological innovation.

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