Purpose – Current drivers in higher education have led to the questioning of traditional placement support methods. Within many programmes, students undertaking practice-based learning experience structured, one-to-one support from an academic in the placement location. With the financial and environmental implications of this practice, the potential for using video-based communications as a replacement for face-to-face dialogue was explored. The paper aims to discuss the above issues. Design/methodology/approach – Three phases of an action research cycle were undertaken; working with students to explore the logistics of implementation, fitness for purpose of the medium and fundamental differences between video and face-to-face dialogue. Findings – The results from the three phases demonstrated the complexity of video-based communications for placement support. In conclusion, widespread implementation of this medium requires greater consideration and understanding of a wide range of theoretical stand points, and an emphasis on the principles of individualised learning. However, the tensions between individual learning need and mass-delivered curriculum are recognised. Originality/value – Requests for practical guidance on the implementation of this technology in this context, have directed the development of guidelines underpinned by the findings from this study. Whilst undertaken primarily within physiotherapy, placement-based learning is common to a wide range of subjects. In addition, with increases in international student numbers, support from a distance may necessitate the use of video-based communications. The developed guidelines are not prescriptive, but aim to provide a starting point for both the uninitiated and those moving from personal use of technology to application in academia.