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  • Writer's pictureNicky

Teaching With Videos

This is not an unusual request.

Another message pings into my inbox: “Hi Nichola, can you tell me what you use to make your videos as I want to start creating some for my students.”

Flipped learning is becoming more popular, many teachers are venturing into teaching with videos to support their students learning and I get lots of emails and messages asking about how I create my videos, what microphone I use, which software I recommend etc. So I thought I’d give you a rundown of how I create my videos.

This is by no means the only way to create videos and I don’t even claim it is the best way but it is my method and the equipment and software I use which works well for me.

Planning my videos

Believe it or not I don’t just sit in front of a camera and say the first thing that comes into my head; I carefully plan it out. My videos are quite chatty so goodness knows what they would be like if I was just allowed to ramble on without a strict plan in place.

The first thing I do is write any notes that will be downloaded by the audience to accompany the video as this helps me know the detail I want to cover in the video and formalise the running order. It also gives me a chance to play about with the language and think of the best way to put my message across in the simplest way possible.

I also create any PowerPoint presentations including animations and rehearse what I am likely to say. I create the graphics that will be used as part of the video and do a “dry-run” of using the software. Even though I think I know it really well, I can still be surprised by something.

I find it essential to practise any programming I will be doing. This involves creating and testing the code and once I know it’s working correctly, I print it out. As the coding is recorded without me being on camera, I can use the printout as a reference guide without the viewer knowing I am looking away from the camera as I enter it.

I then plan my script. I don’t feel comfortable reading from a formal word-by-word script as I like to look at the camera when I am on-screen and I don’t have the memory to remember things exactly so my script just contains bullet points.

Because I have already written the detail in the notes I know the phraseology that I will probably use and have already planned any examples and metaphors so I can ad-lib from the bullet point list with a certain amount of confidence.

The bullet points for a 15 minute video usually fits onto a single A4 page.

Once I have everything prepared, I record the live sections of the video.

Recording live sections

When I refer to live sections I mean the bits of the video where I appear on camera, directly talking to the audience. I often see educational videos which contain only a screen recording of a PowerPoint presentation but didn’t realise somebody is talking for a few moments until the first bullet point pops up by which time I have missed the first few seconds of their important message. When you see somebody talking on the screen it acts as a prompt to the viewer to switch on their audio.

I have many messages from teachers telling me that their students are more receptive to listening to somebody talking when they can see them rather than having a PowerPoint presentation shown accompanied with a faceless audio track. I feel that having the presenter on screen for at least part of the video makes the message easier to digest.

Personally, I find it dull when somebody is talking but all I am looking at is quite a few seconds of “empty screen” before the next section of text appears. It may be just me but my mind tends to wander and I can get distracted by something else in which case I am not really listening to the person and it is only when I look back at the screen I realise they've moved on.

If somebody is on screen talking to me I find it captures my attention more, I remain looking at the screen for longer and am therefore less likely to miss the next important point they are making. It may be uncomfortable, putting yourself on screen, but I feel the benefits outweigh the embarrassment.

So how do you set up for the glamorous world of appearing on screen? Most of my videos are recorded in my home office and once I set up the equipment my desk is a cluttered, tangled mess …

The recording equipment I use is listed below:

  1. I have the bullet point script on my screen

  2. My camera is a Panasonic HC-V160 but there are newer models on the market as that is a few years old now. I like this camera as it has a screen that I can flip so it faces me and I can see that the shot is framed correctly and I am not cutting off the top of my head or looking like a munchkin who is too low for the screen. Ideally your eyes should be looking directly or slightly upwards into the camera so position it where it is just above your eye line

  3. The ring light is an “ELEGIANT Ring Light”, a 10.2" LED light. It has adjustable brightness and colour hues so I can change it for cooler or warmer tones depending what time of day I am filming and what the light is doing in my office. This helps counteract strong shadows that can be distracting in the video. Ideally the light should surround the camera but the legs on this particular model are too short for that and when I put it on a box it got in the way of the camera tripod. It seems to work fine without it being higher so it doesn’t really bother me

  4. My tripod stand is a few years old. This one is a Star 75 and it allows me to adjust the height and the angle of the camera

  5. People will forgive poor lighting or even being slightly out of focus at times and will still continue to watch the video but when there is poor sound they switch off. I treated myself to this microphone after I received some vouchers as a thank you for appearing on a webinar. It is a BOYA Condenser Shotgun microphone BY-PVM1000 which is on a Tiger Boom microphone stand. It doesn’t fit precisely (hence the Sellotape) but it does have an elasticated cage to hold the microphone which reduces ambient sound that might otherwise be picked up through vibrations

  6. I have a set of noise cancelling headphones and microphone which I use when recording the screen but I don’t want to wear them when I am on camera as I don’t like how it looks. This is a Binaural MKJ-805DUC USB headset with microphone and works well as it is not too heavy but still records good quality sound

  7. Probably the most important thing that I have to have ready at the start of every recording is a large cup of tea

There is one other thing that makes a world of difference to the quality of your videos and costs nothing. What is it? I hear you ask. It is a sign to tell others in your household to leave you alone and keep the noise down, mine gets stuck to the door of my home office when I am making a recording.

Believe me, during lockdown when I have a husband who is sweet enough to offer me a cup of tea when he is making one for himself and two teenage sons who don’t know how to close a door quietly or decide that the middle of recording a video is the time to ask me what’s for dinner, this sign has made so much difference.

Back in 2012, when I was still trying to work out the best ways to create videos for my resources, I made so many mistakes. I cringe that in one of my early videos you can actually hear the washing machine start the unmistakable sound of the spin cycle in the background.