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Creating Quality Instructional Videos

When creating videos for your course, there are some things you should consider when planning your recording, such as how you deliver the information (structure and wording), and what hardware and software you intend to use for your recording.

Outline or Script Your Video

When planning your instructional video, it is good practice to outline your topics and include notes on talking points or examples that you don't want to overlook. Some people find it useful to write out a script to work from so that their organization is already set. When recording, you can deviate from your outline or script as needed, but it provides a guiding structure for your content.

To create a reusable instructional resource, be mindful to avoid stating specifics in your recording. For example, avoid saying something specific such as, "We will discuss this in class on Tuesday" in case you teach the class on Mondays and Wednesdays the next semester, or "This is related to your homework due on February 8th" because the due date will be different the next semester, or "You can find this information on page 248 of your book," since content may shift locations in updated editions of a textbook. You can omit this type of information from the recording, but include it on the MyClasses page that will host the video. that way the information on the page can always be edited. This is true for content included in a presentation as well (such as a title slide that identifies a specific section number, semester, or date). If you're comfortable with post-editing options (or if you would like to seek assistance from an instructional designer) you can also include the page information in the video using text that appears on the screen. If done strategically, this text can then be updated or removed for re-exporting a new version of the video if the book changes editions or the location of the information no longer becomes relevant in the video; however, you will not have to rerecord the video content again.

Chunk Your Topics

When recording videos, it is easier to record several smaller videos than one long video. Studies also show that student attention drops after the first few minutes of a video. Furthermore, shorter videos allow for easier management when it comes to updating content. If you wish to record a lecture, can it be broken down into three topics, resulting in three smaller videos as opposed to one longer video? That way, if a concept or reference changes between semesters, instead of rerecording one long video to change a small portion of it, you can rerecord the short video of the three that included that information in it.

Delivery Style

A decision that may influence the outline of your content and the length of your video may be the style in which you intend to record the video. Are you planning on recording yourself sitting or standing while discussing a topic or key ideas in a particular unit of study? You may decide to record this type of video sitting in your office at home, which could be a fifteen minute video digging into a topic. Or perhaps you decide to record in an outdoor setting while discussing a particular flora or fauna if that is your lecture topic, which may better lend itself to a video that is only a few minutes in length to show a visual example of a concept in real life.

Are you planning on recording yourself or your voice discussing PowerPoint slides? Are you considering annotating your slides during the lecture, or writing out ideas, formulas, or diagrams? In this case, you may choose to sit in a more formal office space, such as AC 221B, to use Panopto with or without a writing tablet to record a narrated and/or annotated PowerPoint. You may decide to use PowerPoint on a tablet in conjunction with another app you have for annotating directly on the screen. The length and style of this type of instructional video may vary by topic and your comfort level with the technology.

Do you want to show the process of solving a mathematical equation or map out a concept as you would on a whiteboard in the classroom? In that case, you may intend to use the Lightboard, such as the one in AC 221A, to record your lecture. Recording on a Lightboard limits the space and ease of transition with which you can display information during your video. Post-editing in a video editing software may be useful for this type of recording, resulting in a different delivery strategy than a "talking head" or narrated PowerPoint video. You can to decide what delivery method suits your content best and plan your content outline accordingly.

Recording Set-up for Quality Videos

Once you have determined the type of video you intend to record and where you intend to record, you can verify the software and hardware you intend to use. If recording at home on your own tablet, you may choose to use a combination of free or cheap apps that you have downloaded on your tablet. If recording in your office or in the Faculty Studio, you may be using equipment that is available on campus, or a mix of SU hardware, as well as your own. Wherever you choose to record and whatever you choose to record on, keep these tips in mind for creating a quality video:

  • Know your audience! Your audience may be determined by the level of your course; some class enrollments include a broad variety of student years, majors, and motivations. Awareness of your audience will help you as you draft your content outline or script. It may determine concepts that need more attention, or help you determine the need for a separate video to clarify or examine a concept more closely. Discipline-specific vocabulary or concepts may need to be reviewed in some settings. In other cases, you may know the students and their level of awareness of the topic very well (such as a small cohort in a doctoral program) and you can tailor your script by removing repetitive or understood concepts to focus on new ones.
  • Record clear audio! If your laptop does not have a good microphone, you may consider investing in a webcam, a stand along microphone, or a noise cancelling headset, which may record clearer audio. Clear audio is one of the most important features to effectively communicate to your audience and it allows for clarity when processing closed captions. Make sure you are in a quiet area for the amount of time you need for your recording so that there are not competing sounds distracting the audience from what you're saying. Speak clearly to increase the likelihood of what you want to communicate being understood by your audience.
  • Check your pace! When recording informative videos, you not only want to speak clearly but you may need to slow down your natural speaking pace to ensure your audience can listen and process information as you speak. You don't have to speak "slowly" but be aware that if you are a naturally fast talker, this may make the information you provide more difficult to follow, particularly if you are only recording your voice and there are no facial expressions or body language to offer additional context clues.
  • Check your lighting! If you are only recording your voice, then lighting may not matter to you, but if you will be recording yourself, make sure you are not back-lit or low-lit where you are not clearly visible to your audience so that your actions, facial expressions, and presence are clearly communicated. Dark and grainy video may be distracting, and if the video is not needed, you may want to consider using just audio over a presentation or website. Or you may just want to record an audio file (podcast-style) lecture.
  • Simplify your space! If you are recording yourself, consider recording in a space that has a simple, clean background and surrounding area. This removes potential distractions so that your audience can focus on the content of the video.
  • Keep it concise! This is where your outline or script can help you stay on track while recording your video. While anecdotes or examples may be useful to help illustrate a point, avoid using too many to illustrate the same point. Ideally, each anecdote and example should offer a new insight to the information, such as comparing differences or expanding on a concept, so that the audience recognizes the value of it. Again, shorter video lengths are more easily digestible by audiences, particularly when taking in and working to understand concepts.
  • Add Closed Captions! When you are done recording your video, before you post it to students, don't forget to add closed captions to make it accessible! For more information about creating accessible videos and how to get support, review the ID&D Accessible Course Videos and Audio Files KnowledgeBase article.