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Pre-record lectures

When it comes to pre-recorded media, the first rule is the hardest: don't make the media too long. Try breaking long lectures into short chunks of around 15 minutes, mixed in with activities that help students process each chunk of content.  

The key choice you will make in recording lectures is whether to use video or other media. Video is good for representing visually complex information and enhancing the human presence of the instructor for students. On the downside, video is harder to produce than most media, and uses a lot of data. In many cases, other options (audio, text, images) will be the right fit for what you are teaching. As a rule of thumb, go for the easiest media that will get the job done.

If using video to pre-record lectures

  • Keep videos short and lively. It is often harder to focus on a video than on a person! Therefore, the single most important thing to do in a video is to hone in on a clear learning goal for your students. You may even start with a simple statement like, “In this video, I will show you how to…” Beyond concision, it is great if you can make the video engaging to watch. Fortunately, this does not require massive work or high production values: check out some tips for creating lively short online videos from online educator Karen Costa.
  • Test your microphone to make sure that you have good sound quality. Consider using a headset with an external microphone to capture better audio. A headphone mic will also help to minimize background noise.
  • Consider these audio recording techniques to improve the quality of automatic captions. Automatic captioning is not perfect. Speak clearly and not too quickly to make the content as accurate as possible. Zoom and Panopto (called "Course Videos" in Canvas) both create automatic closed captions. Contact the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) to assign a live transcriptionist to create captions if there is an accommodation request
  • Integrate interaction with the lecture material. A video is almost always more meaningful to students if it is tied to an activity. For instance, if the video features skills important to an upcoming assignment, it will be clearly relevant to students, and will allow you to quickly assess the effectiveness of the video. In addition, you might consider setting up a Canvas discussion board with specific questions, using a quiz, or setting up a chat session for a text-based live discussion around the video.
  • Use screenrecording and digital inking. Using a tablet and stylus, such as an iPad and Apple Pencil, you can capture your natural handwriting in a digital screenrecording. You might incorporate screenrecordings of you solving problem sets, drawing a diagram, or annotating over text or images. CTL's iPads for Teaching and Learning program loans and supports iPad equipment.

Screencasting resources from the GSE

Non-Video Options

Many online courses do not have a video component at all. If you are not sure you have the right equipment and are uncomfortable with the tech setup, this might be a good option, at least for the short-term.

  • Annotate your slideshow with notes and share this with students using Canvas or email
  • Set up a discussion for students with a Canvas discussion. Use specific, structured questions, and let students know expectations for their responses. 
  • Share links to outside resources. Encourage students to watch videos, read articles, etc. 
  • Use chat to have a live, text-based chat session with students. See our recommendations on text chat
  • Try podcasting. Podcasts are a popular low-bandwidth alternative to videos for some subjects. They can be very effective—just be sure to keep them focused and engaging. A good way to do this is to prepare a short list of core questions that will be addressed. Training, including an excellent short course on “Producing Professional Podcasts,” is freely available to the Stanford community at UIT’s LinkedIn Learning site.

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