Developing High Quality Video & Audio

When you engage with students remotely, audio and video are the main pathways for creating a sense of connectedness. This can include recorded lectures, podcasts, narrated presentations or demonstrations. Whatever tactic you choose, it’s critical to ensure media resources are high enough quality that learners are focused on the content, not trying to discern what they’re seeing or hearing. Although there are campus spaces for lecture recording and media creation, you can also create professional media on your own even without visiting campus. 

In addition to providing tips, this guide also links to the many additional resources currently available to faculty and instructional staff. It’s not meant to replace the support and guidance you will find through consulting with the instructional technologists and media specialists available on campus, either through campus services or local support units.

Opportunities

1. Consider how you could make use of instructor-present presentations, demonstration video, podcasts, or found video, rather than voice-over PowerPoint.
There are several formats you might first consider. Research shows that video with an instructor presence is preferred by students and has several other advantages over voice-over-screencasts. This doesn’t necessarily mean you are limited to a “talking head” video. Recording a demonstration, a field experience, or leveraging video produced by other experts can be highly effective.
Resources:
Delivering Video Content to Students – Blended Learning Toolkit
Instructional Materials – Design-Teach-Engage
Fair Use Guidelines
Captioning: Getting Started

2. Address the setting, lighting and noise surrounding your recording location.
Prepare a space. Avoid having bright lights or a window behind you. Keep your door closed and hang a sign that says “do not disturb – recording in progress.” Move a lamp or bring in more light somehow. Experiment and check how things look in the preview window. Practice, listen, and observe if anything is happening that may be distracting from the message you’re trying to convey.
Resources:
Looking Good in Web-Based Videoconferencing
How to Get the Perfect Lighting for Video

3. Break longer videos into segments.
Various studies have shown that limiting instructional videos to 6 minutes or less has a positive impact on student learning. If you are used to working with 50 minute video-lectures or longer, begin by thinking of how you might divide that content into 3 or 4 segments. Also, when possible limit the segments to a single concept. Not only does this improve the student experience but makes it easier to reuse videos in the future. Having an outline or writing out a script can help you stick to your timeframe.

4. Upgrade your audio/video equipment if you can.
Most laptop computers come with a built-in camera and a microphone, but you might consider upgrading to improve quality. A headset microphone or a USB microphone on a stand can significantly improve audio quality and reduce the sound of the barking dog, neighbor’s lawnmower, or the hum of the ceiling fan in the background. A webcam placed at eye level, with your eyes in the top third of the screen increases a sense of connection with your viewers.
Resources:
Technology for working remotely
Laptop checkout during COVID-19

5. Go asynchronous rather than synchronous if you can.
By recording your lecture or presentation, you have the option to do some editing afterward. Maybe you can remove some extraneous information, correct a mistake, or simply shorten the length. Synchronous video or real-time video  also significantly increases the bandwidth required for viewing. However, one advantage of synchronous is it allows for real-time interaction with students.
Resource:
Delivering Instruction to Students with Low-Bandwidth Connections

6. Use the appropriate software for the job.
There are many tools available to produce and edit video. We have created a list and compared the main features of each, as well as provided just-in-time training for how best to use these tools.
Resources:
Which tool should you use?
Creating Videos for Remote Instruction

7. If you need help, find an expert or a recording space on campus.
Resources:
Campus Spaces for Lecture Recording and Media Creation
DoIT Help Desk

Further Exploration

References/Related Literature

  • Brame, C.J. (2015).  Effective educational videos.  Retrieved from 
  • Columbia University video production best practices. (n.d.). Retrieved from 
  • Davis, G. (2018).  How to ensure accessibility for educational videos.  Retrieved from 
  • Fair Use and Copyright for Online Education: Example Videos (2019). Retrieved from
  • Norman, M. (2017). Extending the shelf-life of your instructional videos: Six common pitfalls to avoid.  Retrieved from