Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tips for a good Screencast / Online Recording

In an August 12 post in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Amy Cavender provided some very helpful tips for making recordings at your desk.  Here's the full link:  http://tinyurl.com/mwz4m9v.

Included in her suggestions are the following - with extensive re-wording by me for my own purposes:

  • Buy a decent microphone. NOTHING in your recording is more important than good audio! Using a mic built into a laptop is asking for trouble caused by background noises, fingertaps on the computer, and low volume in your recording. A mic needn’t be expensive. You can find good options at http://bluemic.com but there are a lot of reasonably-priced options. ANY mic that's close to your mouth while speaking sounds better than a mic built into a laptop. If you don't mind wearing a headset, you can get one with a mic for under $30 and it will help you with online events as well as recordings.
  • Keep the recording short, five minutes or less. It’s better to "chunk" your content into a series of short recordings rather than to create one longer screencast explaining everything. YOU wouldn't sit through a half-hour recording, so don't expect your students/audience to.
  • Create a script or outline, and read from it as you record. Writing a script - or at least an outline - forces you to think about what you're going to do in your recording, and it keeps you on track while recording. You will also make fewer mistakes, which makes editing the video much less time-consuming. (But practice until you don't sound too much like you're reading.)
  • If you need captions, using a script makes it much easier to add them. (Whatever tool you use to create the file, the process for uploading it to YouTube — assuming that’s where you’re hosting your screencasts — hasn’t changed since George explained it a few years ago.) If you’re reading from a script, your captions are already written, and it’s a straightforward (if potentially time-consuming) cut and paste job to sync your captions with your recording.
  • Don't do crappy recordings!  (This is my item, not Amy's.) Your audience should never be asked to put up with mumbled audio, poor graphics, or two minutes of searching for the right comment when you could have delivered it in seconds.  If YOU would not sit through it, your audience can't be expected to sit through it.
  • Edit your recordings. Practically everyone looks better if they edit out major mistakes (you can ignore minor ones and continue as you would in a classroom.) When you make a big mistake, take a few seconds to collect yourself, make a note that you need to edit that spot, then back up a bit and resume speaking. You will have a nice edit opportunity in there somewhere. 
  • Practice!  (My item again.) You will get better at this.
The payoff for doing your own online recordings is that you can capture information or content that you don't have to explain again and again - it's "in the can", accessible 24 x 7, and you can link to it from any online site or course.  The more recordings you do, the more repetitive work you save yourself while gaining media skills...and those skills are increasingly part of the required skillset of any teacher.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I Saw It On The Interwebs: Internet Control of Classrooms

At the link below is a PDF version of the presentation I made on August 6, 2014 at the Conference on Learning and Teaching with Technology (COLTT) at the University of Colorado.  Enjoy!

I Saw It On The Interwebs