Used with didactical and pedagogical considerations, videos give many options to improve students learning experience, whether you want to describe a case where you can involve external people or facilities, show students how to manage equipment or how to behave safely in the laboratory, or replace on-site one-way communication such as weekly lectures.
Using videos will allow more time for dialogue between student and educator to explain difficult concepts or show things that otherwise happen too fast or are difficult to showcase to many student at the same time. By providing a preparation video to students on how to behave in a laboratory, the students needs less assurance by the instructors on that part and have more mental capacity for theoretical reflections when in the laboratory.
How to improve your video and audio recordings:
The most important thing in teaching is the content you want to communicate, not the technological means you use. However, the quality of audio and videorecordings made by non-professionals are sometimes so poor that they distract the audience from the content. With simple precautions you can greatly improve the technical quality in order for it to support and not work against the content you want to communicate to your students. Here is some advice:
- External microphone: Get yourself a camcorder with a microphone input and buy a good external microphone instead of the (always!) poor quality built-in microphone.
- Use a headset: If you record screencasts with audio commentary, buy a USB headset with a microphone. Products we know will work with both PC and Mac is Trust USB Headset HS-4200 or Logitech USB Headset H330, both approx. 250 kr.
- Adjust and Test: Always make some test recordings to adjust the audio levels so they are as loud as possible without distortion.
- Acoustics: Always make your recordings in a room with good calming acoustics. The more "dry" your sound is, the more pleasant it will be to listen to. A room with carpets and furniture is good. Make it even better by hanging blankets and bed linen over straight surfaces. If you happen to have some Rockwool lying around in the garage that will perfect your setup.
- Light: When you record videos, make sure you have enough light! Buy two cheap 500W lamps from a local hardware store along with some white foam (polystyrene). What you should do is to project the lamps into the polystyrene (or any white surface like walls, ceilings) which will reflect a soft light back at the target you want to record.
- White balance: Set the white balance to "indoor" - otherwise the video will look amateurishly red and orange. And avoid light from the outside, as it will appear blue. Shut the curtains if you use lamps.
- Exposure and focus: Finally, if your camera supports it, let the camera focus on the subject and adjust the exposure; then lock down the settings and record. This way you will not get the unpleasant surprise that happens so often that the autofocus found the plant in front of you more interesting.
Find more information
This article provide tips for making good videos, primarily in MOOC's, but the content can be used for other educational videos as well.
We highly recommend you to distribute your videos through public channels like YouTube and as free podcasts. Using these technologies and platforms ensures that the videos are easily accessible for all and, in addition, you will gain a bit of "street credit" and publicity for being present in the popular media platforms. This strategy has been researched and confirmed, and many other universities worldwide (like e.g. MIT and Stanford) have adopted, and they are widely known and credited by students (including DTU students) for their open attitude to sharing content. We recommend that you share your content under a Creative Commons license which is the "industry standard" way to require attribution for your work but otherwise allow people to freely share and distribute your content. LearningLab offers a podcast channel for any production in the studio or you are free to integrate it in your course website (see "01005 Matematik 1" as a good example).