Monday, June 19, 2017

Tips for Lecture Capture - It Doesn't Have to Be Complicated!

Whether you are flipping your courses, creating videos to help your students understand specific concepts, teaching a fully online course, or recording lectures for exam review and/or assignment feedback, these tips can make producing your own lecture much easier and effective.

  1.  Record in an optimum location:  When setting up a space for good video and audio recording, sound dampening is the key. You want to choose a space that will not collect noise from outside the room such as a toilet flushing (no joke - I really have heard that on an instructor video), machines such as elevators or air conditioning, or voices from next door or in the hall. Sometimes you cannot entirely avoid these factors but most can be easily addressed. The ITRC has a room specifically set-up for video and audio recording which is available to all faculty. Just call the ITRC at 208-282-5880 to schedule a time to use it.
  2. Invest in a microphone. Do not rely on the microphone or video camera integrated into your computer. Using the on-board microphone can result in muffled or low sound. Our recommendation is that you use a headset with a microphone attached so that mic is right by your mouth. You could also use a "boom mic" which also plugs into your computer via a USB port but can be placed near you so that the best sound is recorded.
  3. Lighting. Many instructor-produced videos show a person hunched over their laptop with no additional lighting so that the only light you see is the glare of the monitor on their face. With the simple addition of a reading light turned toward your face, you will be illuminated and students will have a clear view of you as you speak. Record a 30 second test video and play it back to see if the lighting and sound are sufficient.
  4. Reconsider being a "talking head". Do you really need to appear in the video or will it just be a distraction from the content of the video? In the situations where a "talking head" is essential such as an introduction video to a course, contact the ITRC and we will arrange for our "camera crew" to video you. They will also assist you with editing the video for the purpose of creating a quality video that you can use every semester to introduce yourself to your students.
  5. Keep Your Recording Devise Steady. You don't need to use a fancy camera to create a video - your mobile device such as your tablet or phone may already have an exceptional camera built into it. Keep these bullets in mind when recording:
    1. Find a way to stabilize the recording device. If you are using your smartphone or tablet, get a tripod for it. At the very least, stabilize the device against books or rocks. 
    2. Set your device to record horizontally. Video that is recorded with the vertical setting may not look good when it is played on a desktop platform.
    3. If your phone or device allows you to do so, flip the camera image around so you can see yourself to make sure that it is positioned correctly. This step is sort of like taking a "selfie". We all know a "selfie" is better when the device is held above you and pointed down rather than holding it below you and pointing upward to your chin.
  6. If possible, avoid using the camera built into your laptop computer. If the camera is positioned at the bottom of your device it can result in the viewers basically looking up your nostrils. Or a camera that is at chest level will result in a video with your head cut off. If you must use your on-board camera, position the laptop on a stack of books so that it is actually pointing directly at you. The best solution would be to purchase a low-cost Logitech webcam that can be attached by a cable to a USB port on your computer. The webcam can be clipped or placed in a spot that will provide your viewers with the best image possible.
  7. Consider Your Recording Software Options. If you are using your smartphone or tablet to record videos, it probably already includes software to handle the capture. To take your production a step further, you will need additional software such as the following:
    1. Screencast-O-Matic is a free option that allows you to record up to 15 minutes and save your recording as a file or post it to YouTube. A $15 per year "pro" version expands your options and allows you to make longer recordings.
    2. TechSmith Camtasia is much more than a screen recorder. It allows you to edit your videos, caption them, split them in order to add external media and produce them as an mp4 file that can either posted directly to your course, loaded on YouTube, or loaded to your Google Drive. The ITRC offers a workshop on how to use Camtasia with participants receiving a free Camtasia license for their PC or Mac.
  8. Don't Stress About Editing Your Videos. Editing scares a lot of people who do not consider themselves to be tech savvy. We make the following suggestions for video recording:
    1. Keep your videos at two to five minutes in length so that if you do make a mistake, it is easy to re-record the lecture without a huge investment of time. It is a lot easier to delete your first attempt and produce another three-minute recording that it is to spend 30 minutes trying to edit out all the "ums" and "ahs" in a longer recording.
    2. Another advantage to shorter videos are that students are more likely to watch them all the way through so that the concepts that are presented are more likely to be retained. 
    3. Chunking up your material or cutting your content into very small consumable bits will result in more students actually watching your videos and less frustration for you in the final production of the video.
  9. Remember Accessibility. It is paramount that we produce instructional materials that are accessible to all students regardless of their disabilities. 
    1. Software like Camtasia makes it relatively easy to import your video script and then time it to your video so that closed captioning is available. 
    2. Or you can upload your video to YouTube and have it apply their automatic transcription to the audio. However, this would only be a starting point because the captions will need to be edited for punctuation, sentence structure and words that did not get captioned correctly. You can do this editing directly in the YouTube caption editor or download the captions into a caption editor such as Camtasia.
    3. Contact the ITRC for information on the FREE captioning services that we provide.
  10. And lastly, plan before you record. Write out what you want to say, and practice your script to see how long your video will be so that you know if it needs to be "chunked" into smaller pieces. Invest in the equipment necessary to produce a quality video that your students will want to watch. Keep in mind that the ITRC is available to provide technical assistance with the recording of your lectures.
 The ITRC has the following instructional videos available:

Schaffhauser, D. (5/17/17). 8 tips for lecture capture on a shoestring. Campus Technology. To view this article close the advertisement window that pops up and scroll past the advertisements at the top of the page.

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