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Tips for Recording Lectures from Home

Last Updated: 08/03/2020

Are you rethinking your instruction as you teach remotely? Your teaching may be designed with a classroom in mind, but you may not be teaching in a classroom currently. If you planned to lecture to your students, or even to give them short bursts of instructions, you may want to consider recording them on video.

If neither option is available to you, this do-it-yourself guide will assist you with recording and sharing your instructional videos with your students We’ll go over equipment, video production tips, accessibility, and methods to share your recording.

Please note: This is an introductory guide to producing video content from home, not comprehensive instructions. If you see a recommendation or link that doesn't work, or have information that should be added, email us.

Recording Equipment

Recording Devices

There are several device options you could use to record: a smartphone (iPhone, Android), a tablet (iPad, Surface), or a computer. These devices should have either a built-in or attachable camera If you use a phone, you will have more flexibility to record in different locations, such as outside. If you use a computer, you can more easily include content such as PowerPoint slides.

Microphones

You’ll need either a built-in microphone or one that connects to your device. Built-in microphones are often not the highest quality, but should be good enough for basic lecture recordings. If you want higher quality, you might consider purchasing a headset. The Logitech H800 headset has great battery life and provides both Bluetooth and USB connections.

Cameras

If you have a computer without a built-in camera, consider purchasing an external web camera such as the Logitech C920. It includes a built-in microphone. You can mount it on a computer monitor, a stack of books, or a small tripod. If you are using a phone or tablet to record, you will want the device to be propped up and angled properly. Household items such as a paper clip, binder clips, or Lego work well, or you could buy a mobile device tripod.

Document Cameras

When you teach on campus, do you use a document camera? It can be a handy way to show students how to work on chemical structures, edited texts, and to draw concept maps. It can show a rare and fragile artifact, such as a very old manuscript. It can also be useful for magnifying a small image, such as a coin or postage stamp.

If you want to teach with a document camera remotely from home there are a number of low cost document cameras you can purchase. The OKIOCAM is one document camera that the Chemistry Department faculty successfully used when they taught remotely this spring. 

The OKIOCAM connects to your computer using a USB cable and it relies on a Chrome Extension to display the output on your computer. Once connected to your computer, the output of the document camera will show up in your Chrome browser. Then you can launch Zoom (pro tip: be sure to enable HD in Zoom’s Settings) and select Share Screen to share your document camera output with the class. Also, ensure that the autofocus feature of OKICAM is enabled. 

Note: OIT is not currently able to provide guidance on the OKIOCAM. Also note that because of the heavy demand for OKIOCAMs, you may find them out of stock from time to time. Other vendors make document cameras for home use, and you may be able to find one of those. 

Network Connection

If you are recording using an internet application, such as Zoom, your data connection could affect your recording. If possible, use a wired connection into your device directly from your router or modem for a more stable connection. While a wireless connection is more convenient, it’s less reliable and has lower connection speeds than a wired connection. Follow Zoom's bandwidth guidelines to find the data rates you need.

Choosing a Place to Record

Maximize Sound Quality
  • Record when your space is quiet and outdoor noise is minimal, such as in the morning or at night
  • Record in a smaller space with sound-absorbing materials
    • Large or resonant spaces increase echoing
    • Avoid spaces with tile or wood flooring
    • Add sound-absorbing materials, such as soft window curtains, clothes, area rugs, or padded furniture
Improve lighting
  • Choose a space that is near, but not directly in front of, a window
  • Move additional light sources to your recording space, such as lamps, trouble lights, or work lights
  • If possible, avoid:
    • Lights that are uncovered or undiffused, as they appear harsh on camera
      • Instead, cover lights with lamp shades, blinds, or curtains
    • Lighting that puts part of your face in darkness by positioning lights at different angles
Staging your space
  • Minimize potential distractions in the background
    • Suggested backgrounds: plain walls, simple art, or bookshelves
    • Minimize motion in the background
    • Turn off screens in background
  • Consider hanging a curtain or sheet behind you

Recording Applications

Record with a Camera App on your device

If you are recording on a smartphone or tablet, you can use the camera application on that device. This allows you to shoot your video without worrying about network connection while recording and upload later.

Record with Kaltura Capture

Kaltura Capture is a simple tool that allows instructors to create a visual recording of their own computer screen paired with audio supplied from their microphone. These screencasts can be a great way to create a recorded lecture where you explain visual course content, such as Powerpoint slides. Similarly to other Kaltura recordings, recorded Kaltura Capture videos may also be embedded into Pages inside of Canvas and included in course Modules.

Record using Zoom

To record your lecture alone in Zoom, start a new meeting and press record. You may also record a live version of your class through a Zoom video conference. OIT has instructions on saving a Zoom meeting to your computer or saving to the cloud.

Additional Zoom features to consider:

Record with My Mediasite Personal Capture

With My Mediasite Personal Capture, instructors can create, edit and deliver content to students with the same familiar media player and features used for the Classroom Capture service from home, the office, or a classroom. Learn more about Personal Capture and get started.

Video Production Tips

Keep it short

Screencasts and recorded lectures take time to produce. Before trying to create all of your content, get student feedback to make sure your videos are effective learning tools.

Keep your video recordings short to keep your students’ attention. When any of us, students included, watch videos online, our expectations and our attention spans are not set to consume a forty or fifty-minute lecture. Aim for a video that is six minutes long or less. Four minutes is ideal. Be strategic by breaking complex topics into a digestible series of video lectures and removing content that isn’t necessary.

Summary: Try to keep videos short (ideally 4 to 6 minutes) to hold your students’ attention and break complex topics into a series of shorter video lectures.

Use a Script or Outline

Prepare a script or an outline and keep it on or close to your computer screen as you deliver your lecture. This will help your timing and ensure your delivery is consistent. Having a script will also help you in making a transcript of your video so it is accessible.

Utilize Open Educational Resources (OER)

You may also consider exploring videos shared as open educational resources (OER) or that are under a creative commons (CC) license. If you want to modify existing OER, check the CC license covering that OER. The OASIS and MERLOT search engines are great places to find OER content. MERLOT also contains peer reviewed online teaching materials that are free to use. If you are in a STEM field, you might also consider using CU Boulder’s own Physics Educational Technology PhET simulations or LearnChemE screencasts.

Summary: Use videos shared as open education resources, found on OASIS and MERLOT, as a supplement to your own content.

Camera Presence

Look into the camera as much as possible. As you are lecturing, if you are looking on your computer screen at your script, it will appear to students that your eyes are cast downward. Even though you can’t see the script at the moment you look into the camera, make sure to look into it from time to time. Then students will perceive that you are engaged with them.

Summary: Look into the camera when possible to make students feel that you are engaged with them.

Accessibility

Caption your video

Captioning is an important accessibility feature, as well as a learning aid for students. Here are a few tips on captioning your course videos:

Choose Contrasting Colors

If you plan to display text or show slides in your video, ensure that all your content has sufficiently high color contrast to be easily readable by all viewers

  • Create visuals with high color contrast by using  the following color combinations:
    • White/black
    • White/navy
    • Light yellow/black
  • Use web tools to check the contrast of a particular color combination
  • Place text over solid blocks of contrasting color rather than over images with a variety of colors
    • Use imaging editing tools to change the brightness of a background for consistency
Describe Visuals
  • Meaningful visual content should be verbalized in recordings. It benefits viewers who are unable to see or read visual elements of your video and reinforces using proper terminology in the context of analyzing a visual artifact
  • For slide decks, read the text of slides aloud
    • Ensure that any information displayed on the slides is communicated verbally
    • Include information about hierarchy or relationships between pieces of information
  • For diagrams, graphs, or maps, identify the necessary information that you want your viewers to glean from the image. For example:
    • “This graph shows a positive correlation between money spent at the movie theater and hours spent consuming media.”
      or
      "This map shows the route taken by Vasco da Gama, in which he departed south from Portugal, sailed around the Cape of Good Hope located on the southernmost tip of Africa, then hugged the east African coastline halfway up the continent before sailing northeastward toward India.”
  • It may be helpful to create speaker notes before recording the video

Sharing Your Lectures

Encourage Student Engagement

Tell your students directly how to use your lecture recordings. Give a brief description of what the lecture will cover, define keywords or terms, and provide an outline for them to follow. Tell your students how you think the recordings fit with other activities and assignments in your class. Encourage them to pause, back up, and rewatch areas of your lecture that are difficult. Encourage them to take notes while they watch your lecture, just as if they are in class. Encourage them to return to videos at a later time if needed. Give them advice on watching the lectures in an environment that enables them to focus; encourage them to leave enough time to consume and reflect on the videos.

During the lecture, consider asking students to stop the video to work out problems or answer reflection questions. You might also consider using PlayPosit, which lets you create and embed a quiz within your video before allowing the students to move on. Embedded quizzes can make your lectures more engaging and interactive and can send graded data to Canvas to give you a sense of how well they are learning.

Another way to nudge students to be more engaged is to provide a discussion forum on Canvas where your students can ask and answer questions about the lecture before you hold a synchronous class via Zoom, for example.

Summary: Encourage your students to critically engage with the course material in your videos by using a variety of tools and techniques.

Share Your Video in Canvas

There are several ways in which recorded lecture videos can be shared with students through your Canvas course: uploading locally saved recordings, adding links to Zoom Cloud recordings, and creating a Screencast with Kaltura Capture.

  • Uploading locally saved recordings and other videos into Canvas
    • Local Zoom recordings and other saved videos can be uploaded and embedded with the Kaltura integration in Canvas. 
      • Kaltura is an audio/video media repository integrated into Canvas, which can be used to host video recordings of lectures and class sessions, or other recorded video material. 
    • Advantages of using Kaltura to add video content to Canvas:
      • Saving videos into the Kaltura repository helps to avoid exceeding a Canvas course’s 5 GB storage limit.
      • Videos can be embedded in any Canvas course location with a rich content editor, though the Pages tool can be an especially convenient location to embed them. This will be most effective if you create a new page in your Canvas course for every lecture uploaded, as embedding too many videos into a single Page may result in the Page loading slowly.  These Pages may be included within your course Modules for additional organization and ease-of-access for students.
    • More information on uploading Zoom recordings can be found through OIT’s “Uploading Zoom Recordings to Canvas” tutorial video on the Academic Technology Training page
  • Adding Links to Zoom Cloud recordings to Canvas
  • Creating a Screencast using Kaltura Capture within Canvas
    • Kaltura Capture is a simple tool which allows instructors to create a visual recording of their own computer screen paired with audio supplied from their microphone.
      • These screencasts can be a great way for instructors to record themselves explaining visual course content, such as powerpoint slides. This may be particularly useful for when lectures need to be delivered to students asynchronously.
    • Similarly to other Kaltura recordings, Kaltura Capture videos may also be embedded into Pages, and included into Course Modules