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Dillon Hall in the Fall

Pre-Production

Before the camera is rolling

So you are thinking about permanently etching a video image of your lecture into Google’s permanent memory banks?  Let’s give you a few pointers to get started, so when the next groups of extra-terrestrials who discover our earthly digital repository discover your video, you will do us proud! 

Super important!!!  Five major points:  figure out who your audience will be, what you want your viewers to be able to do once they log off AND what you need to get this project happening, where you will be creating this masterpiece, when learners should be viewing the material (and how long it should be) and most importantly, why are you doing this?  Storyboard it to save everyone, including you, time in the producing and editing of the video.  Who, what, where, when and why:  Hmmmm, sound familiar??

Who

Who is your audience?  For example, distinguish the delivery style you might foresee useful for first-year students barely out of high school versus someone completing their postdoctoral research fellowship taking your graduate course.  Some topics may be presented differently, while others, maybe not!

What (Learning Outcomes and What you need for the activity ahead)

What do you want your learners to be able to do before they click you into cyber-oblivion?  This is important for you to focus your efforts.  A good learning outcome is not about you, but about them, and if you think this through, yes use verbs where the results can be measurable or observable, it will be a good use of everybody’s time!  For example, after viewing this video, learners will be able to:  describe the five major points to consider when pre-planning a video lecture segment.

Make sure everything is working BEFORE you get started.  Have you ever felt the impact of 200 pairs of eyes burning into your back as you feverishly try to reboot the computer to show the PowerPoint that they are all dreading to endure?  Now magnify that by your potentially global online audience, and I think you get the point!  And on that thought, take the time to learn about your equipment and how to use it!!!  The days of having a pit crew to do this for you are long gone with educational cutbacks. 

Access the best audio microphone you can afford.  While we may be nostalgic for the olden days of scratchy radio, today, you’ll lose your viewers to the dancing dog YouTube video instantly if they can’t hear you or understand you.  Maybe you’ll want to edit out that honking cough you picked up from your kid’s friends at pre-school also??  Audio is almost more important than the quality of the video.

Knowing that your camera is recording, and isn’t pointed at your navel or earlobe is a good thing!  Test out the quality of the sound and the lighting before investing too much time in the video.  Also, make sure you have appropriate media storage in your camera.  Nothing screams amateur, like going to upload your video only to find out it’s blank!

Where

Plan out your video recording area.  While some viewers might enjoy your cat pawing your webcam, or you pacing right outside of the pre-set recording area, it doesn’t really look professional.  And for Pete’s sake, PLEASE change out of your pajamas if you’re recording at home!

Consider a backdrop if you set up a filming studio.  Bare walls, light switches and poor lighting might appeal to drug dealers, but for creating good online material, create an inviting and professional atmosphere.

When

So why would students want to spend their precious non-Facebook hours watching you?  According to a recent study in Europe, most students watch to prepare for exams, make-up for the missed lecture or improve retention of lecture material.  Students like the possibility to pause/stop the video and to be able to replay the video. Think this out though, as satisfaction decreases as the length of the video increases.  Plan for 5-10 minute segments of the lecture to capture the main points, rather than uploading the entire 3-hour monologue as one unit.  So, have the video ready so it will be most useful to your students when they need it.

Why

So, what’s your point?  Why are we here?  Clarity and purpose is important from the beginning.  For example, it's like the student pilot who was asked by the air traffic controller to state his altitude and location and he replies, "I'm five feet nine and I'm in the left seat."  You want to make sure your learners have a clear reason to be spending their non-texting moments with you. Otherwise they won’t be back for more.

Who, what where, when and why.  These five questions will help guide you to producing the memorable video segment you are aiming to create.  After all, if we ever get discovered from another galaxy, we want to be immortalized effectively!

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