Two women looking at a computer monitor with the caption 'learning with BoB'.

By Adam Warren

learning with bob

I have vivid memories from primary school in the 1960s, where the curtains in the main hall were drawn and in the gloom we sat and watched a BBC schools’ broadcast about volcanoes on a black-and-white television. Fast-forward to the University in the 1980’s and our Teaching Support and Media Services provided a video-recording service where tutors could request a copy of a programme in advance of broadcast and pick up their VHS tape afterwards. Many tutors had collections of tapes which required rewinding to the appropriate point before they were used again.

Streaming video is now an everyday and unremarkable reality that is overtaking traditional TV scheduling. The BBC’s iPlayer and its ITV and C4 equivalents compete with Sky, Netflix, Amazon and others for our attention, enabling us to easily time-shift TV programmes, watch the latest (or classic) movies or binge on box-set series. But in the post-VHS era, one of the challenges for educators has been how to make some of those programmes – for example news items or documentaries – available to their students as a learning resource.


This is where BoB, the Box of Broadcasts, provides a radically superior solution, capturing programmes from over 60 UK Freeview and Freesat TV and radio channels with an archive that stretches back to 2009 or 2007 (BBC only). You can use keyword searches to find relevant items and add programmes or selected clips to a personal playlist and then share them with your students by linking or embedding.

Students can also log in to BoB to find programmes and add them to their own playlist, and this could be used for an assessment based on a critical interpretation of selected news clips, for example. BoB even generates the citations needed for the references.

You can get started with BoB by watching their video tutorials.

If you want to find and use older video or news sources, visit the BUFVC British Universities Film and Video Council website and look through their Moving Image Gateway and News on Screen sections. And of course YouTube and international archives such as the American Archive of Public Broadcasting are also valuable resources.

Learning with BoB

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