Simple Ways to Create Videos to Engage Your Students

Increasingly, educators are searching for video resources online by sifting through YouTube, searching on Google, and visiting various topical sites. However, what’s often required is quite specific and it can be hard to find exactly what you need.

Creating your own video is a great solution. You get to create exactly what you want and build a library of resources you can re-use. However, although more than 100 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute, it can feel like a huge technical challenge to do it yourself if you’re new to the process.

The good news is that it’s actually quite simple to get started. Here’s how.

First, decide what kind of video you want to create. There are two main routes: Either you can shoot the film using a camera (live action) or you can turn existing resources into video.

1. Shooting live action

This is the ‘traditional’ way to produce a video clip. You simply set up the camera, hit record, and start explaining a concept. This may sound a little daunting at first, but you’ll find you quickly build confidence as you find your rhythm. Many educators find this approach the easiest way to create video resources; whether it’s to introduce a new topic or provide clarity to a sticky point from a previous class session. Meanwhile, students appreciate the ability to replay key portions they don’t understand.

Filming with the device in your pocket
The smartphone in your pocket, or a tablet device, offers you great video quality and unrivalled portability. Although small, they pack a punch and can produce impressive results.

To get the most from your device, remember to:

  • Check your sound: Record a little and then listen. Can you be heard clearly? Is there any background sound?
  • Think about the light. Avoid standing in front of a sunny window or in a room with low light levels. Again to check, just record a little and play back. Remember you’re in control!
  • Keep stable: Because smart phones and tablets are so small and lightweight, it’s easy to produce wobbly video. But there are many tripods and grips that can help. My favorites are Olloclip and Gorillapod.

Formats for real life filming
Although there is nothing wrong with brief “talking head” videos, don’t stop there. Video allows you to do things you couldn’t achieve whilst speaking in a traditional lecture.

You may also wish to create films of your own fieldwork or record keynotes from academic conferences. Or try filming in the laboratories and libraries where research takes place to give students a peek into the rest of your professional role.

2. Transform existing resources into video

If shooting video doesn’t interest you, how about transforming existing resources into video. As an educator you’re already sitting on a wealth of materials that could easily be transformed into valuable educational videos. One of the simplest approaches is to use an existing PowerPoint presentation.

Using PowerPoint 2011 on a Mac
To record a voiceover narration and convert your presentation into a video follow these directions:

  • Click Slide Show > Record Slide Show to start your presentation and begin recording.
  • Once complete PowerPoint will prompt you to save the timings of your recordings, click Yes.
  • Click File > Save as Movie, choose where you’d like to save your file and click Save

You’ve now created a QuickTime movie file of your presentation and a voice over narration.

Using PowerPoint 2010 or later on a PC
With PowerPoint for Windows you can choose to record your voice over narration for your slides separately before you present a slide show, or during the presentation. Check Microsoft’s guide for a detailed walkthrough of the process here.
When you’re ready to save your video:

  • Click File > Save & Send, then Create a video.
  • Select where to save your video.

If you’re using Office 2007 there’s a few more steps involved – learn more here at Microsoft’s Office in Education blog.

As well as PowerPoint you can also convert your Keynote presentation by recording voice over narration saving your presentation as a video.

Final thoughts
Don’t spend too long worrying about production values at first. It’s the learning content that’s most important. As long as the video explains a concept well, it doesn’t matter if it’s a little rough around the edges. You will get better with practice.

Another key point to remember is that you don’t want to try to explain too much in one video. Think about what you want your students to learn and work backwards from there. It’s much better to have a few short, succinct videos that explain concepts clearly.

Finally, have fun! One of the best things about online video is that retains what’s great about teaching. Having a sense of humor and letting students see your enthusiasm for the topic are key in any class so don’t be afraid to have a little fun when creating your videos!

Aidan Hornsby is Video Producer at MediaCore, a cloud-based video platform that helps universities to manage, store and deliver video to students anywhere, on any device.