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Get Ready for Your Close-up: Strategies for Creating Awesome Instructional Videos

Karen Costa (Southern New Hampshire University & The Zebra Coach, USA)
Session Information
October 15, 2015 - 2:30pm
Technology and Emerging Learning Environments
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Oceanic 1
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 8

This session will provide eight steps faculty can take in order to begin producing high-quality instructional videos for their students.

Extended Abstract

Video announcements are becoming the new baseline expectation for many online faculty as institutions recognize the value of this engagement tool. If you are new to video creation or you want to improve your current video creation process, try these eight simple strategies.

1. Webcam, screen, or both?
The basic level of video creation entails recording yourself talking via your webcam. You can record a lecture, tell an interesting anecdote related to course material, or remind students of an upcoming deadline. When you want students to focus on your words, this is the ticket. Your best bet for this type of video is YouTube. YouTube also has the option to create Closed Captioning to offer your video in an accessible format. However, my students often need how-to videos that demonstrate some aspect of our online course such as how to respond to a discussion post or how to attach a file to an assignment. In this case, you'll want to record your screen which will require additional software.

2. Select software.
A lot of people get stuck on this step and never move forward, but trust me, there's a ton of easy to use, free software available. My go-to solution is Collaaj and their basic package is free. What I like about Collaaj is that it's extremely intuitive and you don't need any video editing expertise to create and share videos. One downside is that it isn't seamlessly linked to YouTube but Collaaj provides an easy workaround if you need this option. Another popular option is TechSmith's Jing, but this lacks webcam integration. I recently upped my editing game and purchased Screenflow 5 for Mac. This is the go-to software for screencast editing on the Mac. If you are working on a PC, consider Camtasia. Both are under $100.

3. Create your space and get camera ready.
For the basic video creator, recording your videos from your webcam in a well-lit, quiet room will do the trick. Make sure to have a plain or appropriate background and wear professional attire if you'll be on camera. Some people prefer a completely plain background and you can achieve this by recording against a plain wall in your home. However, a few personal items behind you can make you more relatable to students. If you wear glasses like me, remove them unless they are non-glare.

4. Expect the unexpected.
I can't tell you how many times I've been in the middle of recording a video when my phone rings or my crazy dog starts barking at the mailman. Anticipate any interruptions and plan accordingly. There's nothing quite as frustrating as getting to the end of a perfect take only to have it ruined by your four-legged friend.

5. Go with the flow.
It's a good idea to have a general plan for what you want to say in your video, but I advise against following a script. 99% of the time it appears forced on camera. Instead, jot down some notes and speak from the heart.

6. Embrace imperfections.
I know people who have given up on video creation because they start over every time they misspeak or cough. Remember, you are making videos to engage your students. Being human is engaging. Our students don't want or need robots, they need professors who care. If you stutter or stumble, smile and keep going. This is a great way to model positive behavior for your students. Show them that you aren't perfect, but when you make a mistake, you keep moving forward.

7. Go big or go home.
The number one problem I see with faculty videos is what I'll call monotone syndrome. Here's the thing about being on camera: the camera consumes some of your energy. It's really important to be MORE animated on camera than you are in-person. Use your hands, move your head, and be a bit more exaggerated in your facial expressions. This will feel silly at first, but trust me, it will come off great on camera.

8. Have fun.
Like anything else in life, video creation will get easier the more that you do it, so plan on creating at least one video per week in your online course. As you develop this habit in your teaching, remember to have fun with it. Most smartphones do a great job with video now so you can easily film on the go. If you are out and about and see a teachable moment, film it for your students. If you're engaged, they will be too.

Lead Presenter

After graduating from Syracuse University with a Bachelor's in Sociology, I went on to earn my M.Ed. in Higher Education from UMass Amherst and my C.A.G.S. in Educational Leadership from Northeastern University. I have nearly fifteen years of experience working with students from diverse backgrounds and a decade of experience in faculty development, academic advising, college success strategies, and online learning.

I am a Certified Academic Coach through the National Tutoring Association and a Certified Career Intuitive Coach. I offer speaking and coaching services through www.thezebracoach.com. I am also an adjunct faculty member teaching college success.