When you want to create a video (whether for students or for any other learning purpose), it is most helpful to find a few examples that are the kind of video you are looking to produce.
Once you have found some sources of inspiration, you’re likely to discover some common themes:
- The video producers know their audience and have aligned their video with their needs.
- The length of the video is as short as possible. Less than three minutes is ideal for a demo, while it may take up to seven minutes to explain a concept. When in doubt, break the content into multiple videos to retain the ability to keep them brief.
- The video has some variety in how information is presented, whether that be switching between seeing the presenter and some kind of visual media (a PowerPoint slide, for example), or otherwise contains something unexpected that will glean viewers’ attention.
The sample videos you watch that are the kind you might want to create will likely spark some creativity and get you thinking about your upcoming project. Before you begin creating any content or recording anything, determine the purpose of the video(s) and your target audience.
Create or Gather Content and Video Assets
Now that you know what you are looking to achieve, it is time to write an outline of topics that your video(s) will address and build any assets that will accompany your video.
Examples of potential assets include:
- Screenshots of any items you need to show
- Slide deck (collection of slides) that contain main points or to use when starting and ending the video (welcome slide and closing slide)
- Websites or software you may want to record/film when creating the video
Keep all items associated with the project in the same place, so they are easy to locate when you are ready to record your video. If collaborating with others on the project, consider creating a folder on a cloud service (like Microsoft OneDrive) on which everyone on the team can save items.
It is remarkably easy to create a video these days (I’ll spare you my stories of how hard these things used to be), but you do need a few tools in order to create a successful project.
- Software (the easiest one I know how to use to create a screencast video – with a narrator, recording your computer screen, and/or recording a person via a webcam is Screencast-O-Matic, but there are many others out there)
- Webcam (if you want to be able to record the presenter’s face while recording his/her voice over the slides, you will need to have a computer connected to a webcam, or use a laptop that has one built in)
- Microphone (some webcams have microphones that are adequate for this type of project, or some plug-in headphones also include a microphone that will produce adequate sound. For a more professionally-produced video, an external microphone is ideal)
Vanguard does not have a centralized set of equipment for these purposes, but as more departments start projects like this we would like to hear about it so we could determine the benefits of such an investment.
We also do not have licenses for Screencast-O-Matic, but departments may decide to purchase a license for the Screencast-O-Matic Deluxe Recorder (do not purchase Hosting, as it is not necessary and we already have Arc Media for hosting videos).
Disclosure: Bonni Stachowiak has had Screencast-O-Matic sponsor her Teaching in Higher Ed podcast in the past. She purchased her own personal license for Screencast-O-Matic prior to that, however, and recommended it before any financial benefits came into play. If you would like 50% off of the $18/year cost of a Deluxe Recorder license, you may use this link.
From a technical standpoint, recording is the easy part. You open up any digital assets you will access during the filming, make sure if you are having yourself on video that you have a light source coming from in front of you and are ready from a physical presence standpoint, and press record.
Some people get nervous to be on camera, though, which can be the most time-consuming part of video creation. Try to think of it as a conversation you are having with just one person. Small mistakes actually make the video seem more authentic, so avoid the temptation to keep hitting re-record, or to spend significant time in the editing process.
It is usually best to have a list of topics to discuss, but not to write a script, in advance. These overly-planned videos can be boring to watch and miss the spontaneity that is typical in any presentation (filmed, or not). However, this is like learning how to paint: Once you know the “rules,” you can always decide to break them and still come out with a great final product.
Simulate eye contact by looking at the webcam. Remember to smile and keep variety in your approaches. One way to do that is to switch back and forth between your slide deck or whatever it is that you are showing on the screen and your face. Again, it is ok to not follow this advice. There are plenty of times when I am not feeling “presentable” enough to have my face on camera, but I find other ways to create a sense of engagement in a video.
For those who want to try out the software recommended above: Screencast-O-Matic, here is a demo:
The video above is a screencast, so you can watch it to get a sense of what one looks like. It was also uploaded to Arc, which is the recommended place for you to store your videos, once you record and publish them.
When you are done recording, save the video file somewhere on your computer’s hard drive, or on a cloud drive (such as Microsoft One Drive). Whatever tool you used to record with (such as Screencast-O-Matic) might offer you options to publish directly to YouTube, Vimeo, or elsewhere. However, it is generally better to be sure you have an original copy somewhere you can access and then worry about where to store it for people to play it online.
Vanguard has invested in a streaming video service called Arc Media that runs within Canvas. That is the best place to store Vanguard-related videos, versus trying to house them on YouTube or another video service. Even if you want to have people be able to play the video while not logged into Canvas, it will work just like any other video that you uploaded to YouTube, etc., except that in order to upload a video, you will need to be logged into Canvas.
Below is a two-minute overview of how to add a video on Arc:
Below is a 7+ minute video which shows more about using Arc within Canvas:
Since Arc is built within Canvas, it is easy to add videos to your course assignments, announcements, pages, and quizzes.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that organizations assure that the content they place online is accessible to individuals with disabilities. When students receive accommodations through Vanguard’s Office of Disability Services related to hearing loss or deafness, we need to ensure that the content for our courses and other academic support is available in an accessible format.
Captions are a big part of that when it comes to video-based content. Arc Media, our streaming video provider, does about 90% of the work involved in generating captions for us. After you upload a video, you can select to have captions generated. After it finishes its part of the work, it still is necessary to go and edit the captions, as there will be words Arc does not understand.
If you produced your video using a script, it is also possible to [generate captions] by uploading your script using most screencasting applications, such as Screencast-O-Matic. Alternatively, you can include your script as a transcript of the video, though students would not be able to have the benefits that captions offer of keeping the text in sync with the items being shown on the screen.
Share a Video
Once a video is stored on Arc, you can easily add it to a course shell on Canvas. Alternatively, you can copy the public share link from the video on Arc and paste it anywhere on the internet or over email.
The advantage of having the video within a Canvas course is that it allows for students to engage with the video with comments as they watch it in real time. However, a public link will enable you the option to share the video on a website that does not require a login.
The best thing to do when creating videos is to start with something small and get some initial practice. On episode #203 of the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast, Jan H. Jensen describes how he didn’t create the videos for his flipped class format all at once. Instead, he started with a concept that students found difficult to understand and focused his efforts on creating a video for that one hurdle. After that, he was able to speed up his processes and get more mileage with each video he created.