Recording and sharing a video in your class is an excellent way to reach your students. You can share a lecture, add your thoughts to the discussion board, or just share some words of encouragement easily. Just about every laptop, smartphone, and tablet you can buy today comes with the equipment and software you need to get started, but here are some tips to keep in mind to create great videos.
1. Write a Script
Just as you would when giving a lecture in class, prepare a script or outline to ensure your video stays focused and on subject. Include any annotations (text that will appear on-screen), camera shot changes, and any additional resources you want to include in your video.
2. Keep it short
A key benefit of online courses is that students can access learning content at any time they have a few minutes to spare. According to our own OKWU Blackboard analytics our students are online for an average of fifteen minutes at a time. With that in mind, try to keep your videos less than ten minutes long; any longer than that and students will start to lose focus. Break a topic into multiple videos if needed, students can always come back and watch the next video in the series.
3. Location, location, location
Find a good place to record your video. Make sure there is good lighting; avoid being backlit (you will be in a shadow) or being washed out (you will look too bright and unnatural). Try pointing a desk lamp at a wall to reflect the light towards you. If it is still too bright, you can put a piece of printer paper over the light to diffuse it.
Your location should be free of background noises and distractions. Close the door and turn off the radio, and make sure there isn’t anything distracting behind you. You want your students to focus on you, not the cat playing in the dirty laundry under the bright light.
4. Camera Work
Place your camera at eye level or a bit higher; if it’s too low your students have a nice view of your ceiling and up your nose. If you’re recording from a laptop you may need to prop it up on a few books. Also, make sure that the camera is level; an uneven shot can be distracting to some and nauseating to others.
Try to sit so that your entire head and a bit of your torso is visible on screen. Too close and the screen will cut off the top of your head, which can be distracting. Too far and you will appear distanced to your students, as if you were trying to give a lecture from the corner of the room. Move around a bit until you look good.
5. Don’t be afraid to start over
One of the many benefits to recording a lecture without a live audience is that you can start over. It may take a few tries to get comfortable speaking to the camera and make sure everything looks good, but keep at it until you are satisfied with what you have created.
6. Posting your video
Unfortunately, we don’t have the space to keep all of your videos stored on our Blackboard server. Thankfully there are plenty of free options out there! YouTube and Vimeo are good services to use. They will also handle converting your video into a format that can be viewed on any device. Once you have your video uploaded to a hosting service you can embed it into your class, either as a content item on a page, in an announcement, or on the discussion board. Click here to see how to embed a YouTube video.
When you’re finished, post a transcript of your video along with the video itself (it could be the script you made earlier). This is to make sure your video is accessible to students with disabilities. Some video hosts automatically add closed captioning to your videos but it isn’t always accurate and can create some embarrassing errors.