Why make screencasts to deliver core learning content?
All core learning content must be available to students asynchronously, to ensure all students have access. This provides students with the opportunity to prepare questions and formulate ideas for discussion, prior to live teaching.
Screencasts are an asynchronous format that offers:
- a variety of approaches to presenting information, for example step-by-step instruction, demonstrations ‘in the field’, presenting with slides and visuals, ‘talking heads’ (presenting with camera feed switched on) or multiple camera inputs
- flexibility in the way students can consume content, for example, the ability to pause, review, adjust volume and organise playlists
- captioning, which helps a range of learners access and better understand spoken content
- enhanced lecturer presence in the Blackboard course and familiarity when students can see and hear their lecturers in recordings
Screencasts need to be carefully planned as recording them is different to recording in a live lecture. The following advice will ensure your screencasts are engaging and effective for delivering core learning content.
- Avoid converting all of your existing lecture content directly into screencasts. Consider what is essential core content (you should not be looking to convert a 2 hour lecture into 2 hours’ worth of screencasts).
- ‘Core learning content’ can take the format of reading and learning activities, so plan for a mix, not just screencasts. There may be existing video content or reading you can direct students towards and plan activities around, rather than planning a new recording (for example, BoB, Linkedin Learning and Talis Reading List).
- To get started, aim to break down a 1-hour lecture into individual headings or topics, then create short videos that focus on these topics, with activities that ask students to reflect and unpack the content via questions and tasks. Refer to these as ‘activities’ within the recordings, for maximum flexibility (you might find it easier/quicker to design activities after recording screencasts, but some prefer to use activity planning to inform the recording content/structure).
- You could use natural breaks in the lecture content to break key information into short video segments (15minutes is considered long). Shorter videos help students to engage and give greater flexibility to manage viewing.
- Prepare for an ‘informal’, natural presentation style, as if you were speaking in a lecture – instead of writing a script, your screencast may ‘flow’ naturally if you simply regroup your existing presentation slides and write a list / flowchart to keep on track when speaking.
Presentation slides checklist:
- Use the University accessible slide templates.
- Model good academic practice by citing sources and copyright info as required by third party content (use a summary slide and references on individual slides). Useful image sources are the University image bank, unDraw, pixabay and Unsplash.
- If you normally would wear an LGBT+ lanyard, consider adding the “proud to be an ally” logo to your title slide.
- If using an existing lecture presentation, divide your lecture up into segments and save each as a new ppt (consider all the usual stuff about setting out learning objectives and structure of the session in video 1, include self-study and summary in the last video).
- Consider how you are going to start and end each segment. Make sure each segment has a clear starting slide. At the end of each segment, you could copy the 1st slide of the next segment to the end of the previous, and add a “Coming up next…” caption.
- At the end of each segment you’ll want to encourage students to complete the ‘learning activity’ before moving onto the next recording. Keep this loose term to give yourself flexibility in activities you design.
- If planning to use the inbuilt PowerPoint recorder, note the ‘talking head’ camera feed always displays bottom right, so check that area on each slide does not contain key information (you could paste a box the same size as the talking head into the bottom right of each slide as a reminder). A talking head can make the experience more personable and better engage students (particularly where they are remote learners and would otherwise not ‘see’ their lecturer).
- Familiarise yourself with screencast accessibility advice so you are able to employ the guidance when preparing your resource.
Option 1: PowerPoint recorder
Most colleagues use the inbuilt recorder in PowerPoint to record their screencasts. This is a free, simple and flexible recording option (ensure you have latest version, email DTS if you are unsure). We recommend upgrading to Office 365 to make the most of PowerPoint's tools and our guidance.
You can re-record over individual slides, toggle a camera feed on/off and there are a variety of pointers / annotation tools available.
- How to record with PowerPoint
Option 2: Record using Teams
Colleagues with strong internet connectivity may use Teams to record screencasts. Poor internet connectivity will affect audio quality, so avoid this option if you have connectivity issues in your recording location.
Teams recordings can capture a full screen talking head, or a floating head under your slides (however, the camera feed window is much smaller than in PowerPoint). You can also turn on screensharing to capture your desktop (and any applications / documents displayed).
However, please note that Teams recordings have somewhat limited functionality compared to the inbuilt PowerPoint recorder (for example, no ‘pause’ and cannot re-record over individual slides). You can see a full comparison of Teams vs PowerPoint recorder.
Option 3: Other recording software
For more recording software options and advice; see Which software is best for: Talking Head, Narrated slides, Narrated screen recording?
What should I do if a talking head over slides is not appropriate / feasible for my screencast?
Although most students benefit from seeing you in screencast recordings (it helps them feel more connected to their module, particularly when studying remotely), it may not be necessarily feasible in all recordings that make use of slides (for example, where the camera feed frequently blocks information on the slide and you do not have time to edit the layout). In these cases, consider supplementing screencasts with short, informal talking heads (without accompanying slides) such as brief topic introductions, progress updates, weekly recap or ‘coming up’ teasers.
You can create a quality screencast at home or at your workstation with just a webcam and headset. Ensure you position yourself close enough to the camera so your head and shoulders are clearly in the frame, check your background for personal data and position your mic so it does not hit your mouth when you speak. Put a sign on the door to avoid interruptions and mute your devices.
Thinking about repurposing your screencasts for the next academic year? See the following pedagogic advice and practical tips to effectively prepare your recordings for reuse; TEL blog post: Repurposing screencasts for teaching and learning.
Considering editing your screencast? Editing can be a time-consuming activity with little impact on student learning. Students appreciate an informal, conversational style and don’t mind rephrasing or pausing as you would when speaking in a lecture. Before committing to editing your recordings, see Should I edit my screencast?
Video editing options available to all staff:
- All teaching and learning recordings must be uploaded to the university video sharing platform Stream; once uploaded you have the option to trim recordings held in Stream (beginning and/or end).
- PowerPoint allows basic editing, for example, you can re-record audio over individual slides, or adjust slide design/text without interfering with the existing slide audio.
- If you wish to edit a recording made via Teams, you will need to download the recording from Stream then use an editing software; most devices have inbuilt ‘basic’ editing software; Windows (Photos) and mac (iMovie).
- For more details and options, see: How do I edit my screencast?
Stream is the University video sharing platform. All recordings must be uploaded or exported to Stream before sharing with students. If you have a lot of recordings, you can sort them into folders by using Stream Channels.
Once a recording is in Stream, it is important to:
- title the recording with a recommended University naming convention
- set the viewing permissions, to allow others to play the video (see Step 8.)
The following points give options for uploading your screencast to Stream.
Option 1: Export to Stream via PowerPoint
If using the latest version of PowerPoint*, you can export PowerPoint recordings direct to Stream as a video format (mp4). In PowerPoint, go to File > Export > Publish to Microsoft Stream. It is advisable to tick ‘attach PowerPoint to recording’ to ensure you have the original slideshow with audio incase you wish to download and amend the slides/audio at a later date. It takes the length of the video to complete upload/processing, depending on internet connectivity. You can take steps to improve your internet connectivity, to speed up the process.
*Note: At time of writing, mac users cannot export to Stream from PowerPoint. Instead, publish the recording as a video file (.mp4) and go to Office.com to login to Stream, then manually upload a video file to Stream.
Option 2: Export to Stream via Teams
Teams recordings are automatically saved to Stream, you do not need to export them. However, you will need to locate the recording in Stream to set permissions. See ‘Share a recording from Teams’.
Option 3: Uploading recordings made with other software
Go to office.com and login to Stream, you can then upload a video file to Stream. Here is a list of accepted file types, note that not all formats produce auto-captions so use .mp4 file formats where possible. If exporting from iMovie select 'low, medium, high quality or custom' to share as .mp4. If you set the quality with "Best (ProRes)", the iMovie file will be saved as .mov format.
All recordings held in Stream are accompanied by auto-captions. It is strongly recommended that you check and edit the Stream auto-captions to improve their accuracy, however this can be a time-consuming process.
For detailed advice about accessibility and effective captioning, see Captioning Screencasts
Occasionally you may need to extract Stream auto-captions to create an alternative format.
Set viewing permissions in Stream
Once a recording is uploaded to Stream, you need to assign viewing permissions before anyone can play it. You can assign viewing permission to individuals and/or your Blackboard module.
Share Stream content with students via Blackboard
For instructions, see Stream: How to Add Permissions for a Blackboard Module.
*Where a module runs both in the UK and in Malaysia, see Cross campus video permissions in Stream to enable access to UoRM staff and students,
After you have set viewing permissions in Stream, consider how students will view the recording in Blackboard.
- If you have set permission for your Blackboard module to view the video, the recording will appear in the course menu link (titled 'Microsoft Stream') alongside all other recordings shared with the module.
- You may decide to hide the course menu link, to prevent students from seeing all recordings together (*you may decide to 'unhide' the menu link at a later date, when requiring students to revise). Please note; students can still access recordings via logging directly into Stream and searching for videos attached to their module code.
- Consider embedding videos into clearly labelled folders within the Blackboard course, alongside other related learning activities. See: Embed A Video in Blackboard (*a Stream embed code will only allow permitted viewers to access the video, so you will need to set viewing permissions before an embed code will play).