JBB's Final Thoughts E38 Teleprompter Art

JBB’s Final Thoughts Episode 38: 8 Tips to Improve Your Video Instruction Game

JBB’s Final Thoughts Episode 38: 8 Tips to Improve your Video instruction Game

Given the overnight challenge for educators to teach online, and at the request of one of my fellow teachers, here are 8 things to remember to help you improve your teaching practice via (YouTube) video.

MP3 Version:

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Episode Notes/Script/Post:

Joe Bustillos here.

2020-03-26 Fitzgerald Staff Zoom meeting
2020-03-26 Fitzgerald Staff Zoom meeting

Not long into this work-from-home era, I kicked back into my online-learning/teaching mode from teaching 6-years at Full Sail University and started posting instructional videos to my district-youtube channel. When I shared the links/info with my fellow teachers, one asked: “I would like to start making youtube videos, any suggestions?” Over the weeks I’ve sat through quite a few Zoom meetings… there’s a lot we could learn about online video usage if we’re at all serious about taking advantage of this remote learning/communications challenge.

First off, most of us aren’t fond of our image on camera, which is pretty normal, but also very counter-productive if the point is to communicate and teach someone on the other end, watching your video. Most of us who love teaching understand that it’s not our subject-matter expertise or some artificial measure that makes this job worth doing, but it’s the feeling of connecting with and helping another human being on their learning journey. That doesn’t change whether you’re doing a one-to-one tutorial in the same room or presenting to thousands via satellite. The difference is, and this was something that I taught my video-journalism students, you are trying to cram a reality, a visual reality where our field of vision is over 180°, into a rectangular-frame that might be no bigger than your student’s smart phone screen. That’s a lot of information, a lot of communication that has to happen over a limited visual frame for a limited amount of time. It’s just like when they tell salesmen to smile when they talk to customers on the phone, the same energy that’s needed to effectively use this technology begins with your disposition as the teacher sharing information to your students via a YouTube video. You have to (positively) force the same focused energy that you would use if your were face-to-face with your student across these devices.

Now that we’re set on doing the best videos and not letting a little camera-discomfort deter us, here are eight tips to help you make better videos:

working on the computer by dan4th nicholas
working on the computer by dan4th nicholas

1. Lighting: The lights need to be mostly directly in front of you and usually much brighter than normal. Yes, it’s going to be shining in your eyes. Overhead ceiling lighting is unflattering and usually not good enough. And by all means, please, for the love of all that is good, do not shoot with a bright light behind you (like the sun), unless you want their face in shadow on purpose (like some FBI “identity hidden” video). Bad lighting is boring. And you don’t have to get expensive “studio lighting,” when well positioned desk lamps can do the trick. Bad lighting can be a non-verbal cue that you don’t care or that this isn’t your best effort. Remember, whether justified or not, our students won’t care about what you’re talking about if they sense that you don’t care.

2014-06-18 jbbsfinalthoughts Heil PR-40
2014-06-18 jbbsfinalthoughts Heil PR-40

2. Sound: You can get away with most built in mics but the room has to be absolutely silent, which might include the sound of your AC kicking in. And you certainly cannot have the TV or some conversation happening in the same room. Bad sound is actually worse than bad lighting. People lose interest far faster if they cannot hear you clearly than if they can’t see you clearly. There cannot be any other sounds that might interfere with your voice or narration. When I learned that I would be teaching online I bought a high-quality microphone, called a Heil PR-40 that many podcasters use. One of the benefits of this microphone is that it picks up my voice very clearly when I’m speaking into it dead-on, but doesn’t pick-up a lot of room noice, so I don’t have to have sound dampening, etc., beyond just having a normal quiet room.

2020-05-01 GMA will reeve pantsless
2020-05-01 GMA will reeve pantsless

3. The Background/The Frame: While your interest is entirely consumed by your face on camera or what you are pointing the camera at, it is very important that everything that the camera sees, especially things at the edges of the screen, are taken into account when you’re shooting your video. Sure your face is the focus, but eventually attention will be drawn to the trashcan in the background or anything else in the frame that doesn’t contribute to the story you’re trying to tell. I’ve seen adult students do video assignments where they didn’t think about putting away the ironing board and laundry in the background (or worse). There is already video out there of reporters shooting from home and choosing to not wear “office attire” below the waist and getting caught. Don’t let this happen to you. Again, if the background is a mess it sends a non-verbal message that you don’t care.

peak design tripod mobile ready, https://www.peakdesign.com/pages/travel-tripod
peak design tripod mobile ready

4. Tripod: This isn’t needed if you’re using the webcam on your laptop/computer. But if you are using a smart phone or regular camera invest in a tripod where you can adjust the height so that the camera stays at eye-level (or a bit higher) and is stable. Leaning the camera/smartphone on something on a table generally forces the camera to shoot up (your nose) and have your head floating with a lot of ceiling in the frame. Not good. A small tripod (for your phone) can be purchased for under $30 and is worth it.

JBB's Final Thoughts E38 Screenflow Art
JBB’s Final Thoughts E38 Screenflow Art

5. Video Editing: I edit my videos using the software that comes free with my Mac, iMovie. There are similar programs on PCs. Even before I went full-time Mac I preferred video-editing on Macs because it was just so simple. If I’m doing a tutorial where I need to show something from my computer or iPad screen then I use a program called Screenflow (from [Telestream](http://www.telestream.net/screenflow/overview.htm) – Mac only). I’ve been using Screenflow for over 10-years. It does more than just screen capture, but let’s you edit the video so that you can zoom in on what you want the viewer to watch. Very powerful.

6. Music in videos: Most of the music I use in my videos is from a royalty-free music catalog that I began buying over 10-years called [Sonicfire from SmartSound.](https://www.smartsound.com/sonicfire/) Please remember that Copyright means you have specific permission to use the song(s) from the Copyright holder (or any other media), just because you are not “making money” with the video doesn’t matter. So make sure to use royalty-free music or specific permission from the artist to use the work. YouTube does muddy the waters a bit because sometimes they have agreements with record companies that makes using their music okay, but that can change and your video get pulled. Play it safe and only use music you have permission to use.

JBB's Final Thoughts E38 Teleprompter Art
JBB’s Final Thoughts E38 Teleprompter Art

7. Teleprompter: If you’re working from a script, whether it’s just bullet points or more, you’ll want to use a teleprompter. If you have an iPad or other tablet, you can make one very cheaply and they can really help your video look all the more “professional.” Here’s a short video about the teleprompter I made and have been using (I’ll include links to other DIY teleprompter set-ups).

8. Camera: You notice I didn’t mention the camera until now. Most webcams get the job done. I use an older Logitech C615. The new hotness before all this work-from-home stuff started was the Logitech BRIO that shoots in 4K, but it’s currently unavailable from Amazon or directly from Logitech, it also costs $200. I’m thinking of upgrading to using one of my DSLRs, which will require that I upgrade my teleprompter, etc., etc., etc.

Hope that this helps. I will have links to several resources on the use of video for teaching and learning from the EduBlog folks, video streaming from home by the Daily Tech News podcast folks and an array of DIY videos on how to make your own teleprompter.

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