Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Making video lectures: Powerpoint screencasts

I have previously discussed the many advantages of video lectures compared to live lectures. Here discuss how I make most of my video lectures.

Almost all my video lectures are screencasts of Powerpoint presentations made using the screencasting software Screenflow.  Screenflow only works on Macs but there is a very similar program for Windows called Camtasia.

The two videos above nicely illustrate how I do it: you simply go through your Powerpoint presentation of your computer and Screenflow records what's happening on the screen and what you say.Then, usually after a bit of editing, I upload the video to my Youtube account.

There are two main differences between the videos and my approach: One difference is that I use the earphones with microphone that came with my iPhone for a better audio recording. The other difference is that I don't record myself talking with my webcam because I personally find these "talking heads" distracting when I watch such videos.

There are other ways of recording Powerpoint presentations.  The reason I used Screenflow is that
it has very powerful, yet easy-to-use, editing capabilities for fixing mistakes. The same is true for Camtasia and this video gives an example of a correcting a mistake.

Some practical tips
* Once you start a recording, don't stop.  If you make a mistake, keep quiet for a moment and start that part over.  You can fix the mistake by editing and the quiet moment allows you to cut without interrupting the narration.

* Keep quiet for a second before and after changing slides. This allows you fix errors on a particular slide without affecting other slides.

* Once you finish recording a video your first instinct will be to delete it.  Try waiting a day and listening to it again. I bet you'll feel better about it.

* Hosting your videos on Youtube has many advantages such as optimized views for mobile devices and good buffering for slow internet connections.  You can control who can access your videos on Youtube, though there is really no good reason not to share the video with everyone.

* However, if you want to host the video in a place not recognized by Screenflow or Camtasia, such as a university server, you can export the movie to a file and upload the file.

Other uses of screencast
Screencasting in general, and Screenflow and Camtasia in particular, are very versatile tools that can be used for many other things.

For example, I frequently use Screenflow to grab fragments of Youtube videos or simulations to include in my Powerpoint slides.  Here are some examples:

A screencast is also an excellent way to show how to use a particular program or website.  Here I show how to use a particular feature of the program MAPLE.

 This post is part of an ongoing series of post on teaching tools and tips collected here

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0