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:

  1. Figure out what topics (usually 2 or 3) would be best explained by me talking about them.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Upload.  I upload the folders containing the video and associated HTML code to my school-supplied webspace using Flow.
  10. 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.