As much for my own record keeping as anything else, I thought I’d run down how I create video PowerPoints for my online classes. I use these videos for course content and also to explain, through screen captures, how to accomplish various menial course tasks.
In general, these are some things I like to keep in mind:
- Each presentation should be no more than 20 minutes–less if possible. Sometimes this means doing 2 or three separate videos per chapter, broken up topically. The way our World History text is structured, the individual chapters are pretty large. For example, for the chapter on 1500-1600, I had three presentations: Exploration and Colonization, The Reformation, and East Asia.
- Another thing I do is not cover every topic under the sun– the presentations are a supplement to the textbook, not a replacement. I try to provide broad overviews and explanations to assist the students in comprehending the text.
This is what I do:
- Figure out what topics (usually 2 or 3) would be best explained by me talking about them.
- Work up a brief PowerPoint presentation on my Macbook with enough bullets to give me talking points as I record. I try to include as many maps as possible as well, and I use the slide-show’s “pen” feature during recording to explain geographical stuff.
- Review the slide-show a few times, sketching out what I want to talk about, relating it to things I’m not talking about (that they’ll read in the book) and–hopefully–tie everything together.
- Record. I use Techsmith’s Camtasia: Mac for recording. It’s affordable ($99), made by a local company (Techsmith is down the road in Okemos, MI) and works incredibly well. Although the mic built into the Macbook is pretty good, I added a Samson Go Mic ($50).
- HIT SAVE IN CAMTASIA BEFORE DOING ANYTHING ELSE!
- Edit. Camtasia’s editing functions are excellent and pretty intuitive. Usually, I only need to trim the beginnings and endings of the video so students don’t have to sit through me switching between windows and such.
- Sometimes, when I’ve got some time or am bored, I make some goofy intro music with Garageband and my M-Audio O2 MIDI controller.
- Export. We use Blackboard for our online course management, but uploading videos directly into the course shell can be a hassle. One thing I like about Camtasia is that it will create ready-made webpages with your video embedded into them as Flash. I use that feature to render the videos.
- Upload. I upload the folders containing the video and associated HTML code to my school-supplied webspace using Flow.
- Link. I provide a link to students in the chapter’s Blackboard folder. So far, I haven’t had students running into tech problems with this.
That’s basically what I do. It’s, clearly, not the only way to do it. It might not even be the best way to do it.