This is episode number 24: How to make videos for your online classroom.

 This podcast is for educators, academics and parents, who know that online teaching can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding, engaging, and fun! Welcome to the Online Teaching Lounge. I’m your host, Dr. Bethanie Hansen. And I’ll be your guide for online teaching tips, topics and strategies. Walk with me into the Online Teaching Lounge. 

 Making videos for your online class is a simple process. However, many people are very nervous about this. I know I personally was quite afraid to make videos when I was teaching online, early in the game. Now that I’ve made them quite often, I’m very comfortable with this.

 Just about anyone can get comfortable with this process. If you do have a significant phobia, you could also alternatively make slides and do an audio recording of yourself speaking.

 Benefits of Making Videos

There are several benefits to making videos of yourself speaking or teaching for your students. Some of those benefits include the fact that your students are going to connect with you immediately because they can see you, if they aren’t able to meet with you face to face ever. If they don’t live in the same area that you do. Or maybe they’re really distant, across the world. That connection to your face and your voice is just priceless for them.

 A video that you make in a lesson, in an announcement, or someplace else, is going to reduce the learning anxiety for your students. Many of our students come to us online with a huge amount of anxiety. They’re thinking about the experience, how can they succeed. They want to do well. It can increase their motivation to do well when they feel like they have a connection with you or relationship. It’s pretty amazing to consider the fact that you don’t have to do a whole lot to connect with your students when you create a video, just talk to them.

 An instructor created video is such an effective way to build relationships and personalize your online teaching. So, the “why” about why we do videos in our online teaching. This is the critical relationship building aspect. But it’s also helpful to know how much it benefits the student just to see us and hear our voice.

 How to Make Videos for Your Online Class

Now, the “how” to this is the important part. There’s a lot of equipment you could consider using. There are methods you could try. On top of everything, I would suggest starting simple. Keeping it brief.

 I’m going to give you a few tips about strategies you can use, things you should consider when you’re making these videos, and some length considerations. But I also want to bring up the idea of copyright and 508 compliance.

 Copyright is important if you’re going to be using material in your videos where you’ve taken part of the textbook or something like that. And you’re going to include that. So be sure to check the laws and different things for your university or your institution about copyright. If you’re going to speak from your own perspective, or just talk to your students, copyright of course is not a big concern.

 508 compliance, on the other hand, this is how we’re going to reach our students who may not have the ability to consume the video content normally. So, if we want to give them enhanced methods, such as a transcript or subtitles or captions, this is going to ensure everyone gets the maximum benefit. Now whether a student has a disability or simply a learning style preference, they’ve done a lot of studies on this. And they’ve actually discovered that quite a large percentage of students look at that text while the video is playing. So it can be used for studying, it can be used for enhancing recognition of what you’re saying. It can also really help visual learners who like to see what’s being said.

 There are many excellent reasons to have transcripts or captions. And in today’s world, we want to make sure we are preparing in advance to meet all learners and not make them ask for it. It’s a law as well, that we support all our learners with enabled captions and different things like that. So be sure to find out what services might be available to you through your school or through the technology you’re using.

 For example, in higher education institutions, there might be an entire team at your library or at your technology department who can specialize in adding these captions. Some institutions sublet that service out to another business that will add the captions for you. I know there are many captioning services. If you for example, upload something into Camtasia, you can find that captions are very easy to add, you can also have an auto captioning happening. That happens when you upload a video to YouTube. And if you’re using Kaltura, or one of the many other programs out there, so consider how you might caption your videos upfront, or whether you’d like to type what you’re going to say and then speak it on the video, and then you’ve got a transcript ready to go.

 As you create videos, think about what you’d like them to include and choose those resources wisely, both for the content you’re going to include and the quality. If it’s going to be used speaking to your students like an announcement, then of course, you want to just create your outline or bullet points, so you know exactly what you’d like to say. And so you can sound natural when you’re doing it. Also introduce your students to topics and key points in your videos. If again, if you’re going to use these as announcements, you might want to use an overview approach. And then of course, verify that the video is going to be viewable that you can attach or embed it so students can find it easily.

 And I would make these in an evergreen way. Evergreen means that you’re going to create a video that can be used again in the future for another class. If you’re going to create an announcement about week two, for example, if you talk generally about week two, give the encouragement give the structure, then the next time you teach that course, if Week two is exactly the same, you can also use that video again, and focus on creating additional videos for other sections of your class. So try to do use that evergreen concept whenever possible.

 Now video content can of course enhance the learning. It can enhance the relationship; it can do a lot of things for your teaching. And creating videos just from the outset to welcome your students is a great way to get started. So if you’re brand new to this, I would suggest project number one is simply to create a week one introduction to yourself, a little bit of introduction about what the course will be about, and some general encouragement for your students.

 In the future as you keep going with creating videos, you can also create lecture lectures about the course content, narrations about different things. Like for example, one of the courses I love to teach is music appreciation. If you were to narrate about a musical performance and give some explanation and some guidance, that would be super helpful. And you can also guide your students around the classroom.

 Many faculty that I’ve observed like to do screencasts, where they project the classroom itself, and then walk students through that while they’re talking. And maybe there’s a little video of the instructor in the corner. But the main video is actually the classroom, and we’re talking about it and we’re giving them an idea of how this should go.

 I do suggest that when you record your videos you consider the content, the background, the lighting, your appearance, and how long the video is going to be. Whatever content you’re going to present or talk about should be concise. Be careful to eliminate extra elaboration, explanation or stories that really don’t matter.

 Chunk the content into topics that are small and easy to digest. And then make your videos short. Shorter videos actually allow students to readily engage in what you’re doing without putting them off. So if it’s too long, students are going to check out and have a hard time consuming it. So keep them short.

Katherine Use an online instructor and PR consultant, shared some great best practices with me and a lot of participants at a conference I attended. So her tips on making effective online videos are:

  1. Limit the video lengths to five minutes or less.
  2. Speak at 185 to 254 words per minute for an ideal pace.
  3. Signal important topics within the video. If you’re going to put graphics on the screen that would mean highlighting key words or if you’re just talking about it to emphasize those key words.
  4. Weed out what is not necessary, and focus only on the critical information.

So some closing tips as we wrap up the podcast today about creating effective videos for your online classroom. Consider lighting, consider background. Look at the camera while you’re speaking and speak naturally in a conversational way. It helps you imagine if a person’s sitting there on the other side of the camera you can pretend and then of course consider what kind of camera and microphone you’re going to use.

Lighting works best if you have a light directly in front of you or slightly to the side. A light behind you is not a good idea because it will make you look like a shadow, make you difficult to see. One of the more common lights people are using nowadays is called a ring light. You can find these online. Basically, if you’re using a cell phone to create your video, a ring light will give you a uniform lighting that is all around and really a great source of light for you.

 In terms of your background, think about what is behind you in the video. Do you have a blank wall you could use? Do you have a bookshelf that’s organized? You want your background in the video to be fairly tidy and not distracting. I have seen instructors make videos for their students in their bedroom because the desk happens to be in there. And behind them is a bed not made, blankets are everywhere. I would suggest avoiding this. And if you do have to use that room, at least make the bed. Make it tidy. But other rooms in the house are better.

 And of course, non distracting backgrounds. Try to avoid controversial items hanging on the wall or posters or pictures that might offend your students.

 And then looking at the camera, and speaking naturally. I again, I suggest that you imagine there’s a person near you sitting by the camera. Even if you have to write a script for your videos to be ready to go. You want to speak these in a natural way, in a conversational way. So practice a few times so that it doesn’t sound like you’re just reading.

Now there are apps out there you might be interested in. If you want an app that actually uses teleprompter like captions rolling up while you’re making your videos. I’ve tried one called Big View, it’s a little bit on the expensive side, but you can put your text in there, you can import it on the computer using like a Microsoft Word document and then use the app on the phone. As it’s filming you the text is rolling up the screen. So you can actually look right at the camera. If you’re really going to get into this and make a lot of videos, that might be worth your investment.

 And then lastly, camera and mic. So what kind of camera you use, really, it can be simple. You can use the built in camera on your laptop computer, it has a microphone. It’ll be better if you have a headset mic that you’re connecting to that computer that’s going to help you have less fuzz outside noise interference. It’s kind of just improve your sound quality generally. And then of course, you can always use a cell phone on a tripod. They have remarkable sound and great picture. And they’re also very easy to upload whether to YouTube as an unlisted video and then you could just put the link in the class or into the classroom itself.

 So whatever your options, I encourage you to try a lot of these strategies, see what works for you. And then one last tidbit I learned from a faculty member this morning, Screencast O Matic is a great free program easy to use, especially if you’re not really into filming. And it also does captions. So check it out. I wish you all the best this week in your in your teaching, teaching your online classes with videos and best wishes, experimenting and trying new things.

This is Dr. Bethanie Hanson, your host for the Online Teaching Lounge podcast. As you try out these ideas, visit my blog and share your results. How did they work? What would you add? Any suggestions, comments or questions? Best wishes this week in the grand online teaching adventure.