How to Create Video Lessons


Choosing to produce videos for your students can make an incredible difference in their education. If you read last month’s blog post, you’ll remember it focused on faculty experiences utilizing this resource. While we explored the “Why” of creating video lessons for class, we hardly touched upon the “How”.

1) Preparation – First, you need to determine what sort of video you want to produce.

  • In-class: Recording a class lecture is a simple, potentially vital resource, and not only to the students who missed class. Those who attended may still want to revisit a part of the lecture they didn’t initially understand. A camcorder or high quality webcam and a tripod are necessary tools for this type of video.
  • Solo: Some instructors prefer to film their lesson outside of the classroom environment. This gives them more control over the video length and content. Both Mark Champagne and Sam Sarkissian, contributing instructors from last month’s blog, create this type of video, but in different ways. Professor Champagne suspends a flip cam over his workstation and films a worksheet as he lectures, writes notes, and solves example chemistry problems. Professor Sarkissian, on the other hand, films different models of anatomic parts and defining key terms for his Anatomy class. Each instructor’s videos range between 5-20 minutes.
    For these videos, you need to plan a quiet location beforehand, preferably an empty classroom, your office, or within your own home. Like with class lecture videos, it’s important to have a camcorder and tripod at your disposal.
  • Screen capture: This type of video uses computer software to record your computer screen and audio. You can use this software to narrate your PowerPoints, or, like in Shaun Sarcona’s case, create an instructional video for students using a new technology for an assignment. The CTL has a couple of different suggestions for which software you use.
    • Jing is available for a free download, but limits its users to five-minute videos which cannot be edited.
    • Snagit costs $29.95, does not place a time limit on the videos and has limited editing options.
    • Camtasia is the most powerful and most expensive option; it costs $179.95, provides high-quality video and gives users a wide range of editing possibilities.

(Note: Ask your department if they can finance this purchase.)

2) Recording – Once you’re set with your tools and your lesson plan, you can begin the filming process. Professor Champagne and CTL staff member Tom Bradley offer the following tips:

  • Practice what you’re going to say a couple of times before recording.
  • Don’t worry about minor mistakes.
  • If narrating a PowerPoint, be careful during slide advances. Stop speaking a few seconds before you click ahead, and wait a few seconds after the new slide appears before you begin speaking again.

3) Editing – This is an entirely optional step in the process. And depending on the type of video you record and the software you use, your editing capabilities may be limited. However, if you’re interested in polishing the video, we suggest the following:

  • Insert a title at the beginning of the video.
  • Add “Fade up from or out to black” effects at the beginning and end of a video.
  • Edit in additional visual elements that support your lecture points.

4) Uploading – Finally, all you need to do is upload your video someplace for your students to have easy access.

  • YouTube is a popular option; anyone with a Gmail account automatically has a YouTube account. The privacy settings are easy to use as well. Public videos are available for everyone to search and view. Unlisted videos cannot be searched; only those with the link can view them. Private videos are password protected and only viewable by you and the users you select.
  • MeritCloud Media is Macomb Community College’s official media streaming service. Picture a private version of YouTube, one that can be made only accessible by members of the College community. You can log in using your Macomb username and password. Contact the CTL for help getting started!

5) Closed Captions – In order for your video to be accessible to students with hearing impairments, we highly recommend you include closed captions.  This is done differently depending how you are creating and uploading your video.  Both YouTube and Camtasia have internal tools for creating closed captions.

If you decide to create videos for your class, the CTL is here to support you! Contact us with questions, concerns, or to share your success stories.

Phone: 586.226.4774

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