Recording Lectures: A Minimalistic Approach

There are many advantages in having a lecture — or at least a part of it, as a recording. For teachers, this means efficiency. Explanations of concepts, elaboration of theories, demonstration of procedures and other bits of more static information can be captured at one sitting and ‘re-presented’ multiple times. No doubt, it will take time and effort to ensure the recording is created and published to expectations, but the dividends will pay off over time and in the end. Analytics available through most video hosting platforms will offer valuable data on say, the number of students who have viewed the recording or segments of the recording that were skipped the most. Time that is freed up in class can better be used for collaborative learning activities, to respond to students’ questions and, to gather feedback on student learning. For students, this means flexibility. They will be able to acquire knowledge anytime anywhere, as long as they have access to a personal learning device and the Internet. Most video players also come with playback control features. Students might wish to fast-forward the explanation of a familiar concept or watch on replay the demonstration of a complicated procedure. Students would also appreciate the additional in-class time for more interactions with their peers and instructors.

However, for a beginning teacher, the task of creating a recorded lecture for the first time can seem daunting.  Leveraging PowerPoint as a tool, this article breaks down the steps required to create a recorded lecture. In describing the steps, I have drawn on my experience  creating a 10-minute recorded lecture on Active Learning [RMIT Login required].

Review your syllabus and identify topics that need to be covered. Most courses have 1-3 topics to be covered for each of the 12 weeks.  

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Once you've decided on the topic, the next part is articulating exactly what you'd like students to learn about this topic. Lectures are mediums to deliver information. For this topic, what information would students need to know? It helps to describe what knowledge acquisition looks like in terms of observed behaviours. I like to use the Bloom's taxonomy of verbs to help me write learning outcomes.

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Apart from responding to the learning outcomes, a good lecture is coherent and well-structured. An outline often helps to check for alignment to outcomes, coherence among the various sub-topics and flow of the presentation. There are many ways to outline your lecture. Some people like to use dot-points. Others like to draw a mind-map. In thinking about an outline from a minimalistic perspective, I am reminded of the words of wisdom from a colleague: "think in slides".

As you reflect on what you'd like students to learn, start to create titles slides in PowerPoint. 

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Once you have your outline ready, you can start to develop your lecture. This step may appear as two steps but it's deliberately one step with two iterative parts. For each slide, decide what you're going to say. Next, decide how best to use visuals to accompany the text that you've written. Alternatively, you might want to start with a visual and then decide how you'd like to describe it using words.

If you find that you have too many slides with large chunks of text that you might be tempted to read off, consider converting the slides into an article instead. 

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For suggestions on narrating, recording and editing your slides with PowerPoint, please refer to this useful resource from the College of Design and Social Context.

You are now ready to record your lecture. From PowerPoint, click on Recording->Record Slide Show. You can choose to record the presentation of your slides all at one go, or do it slide by slide. I prefer to do it slide by slide. 

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If you need more guidance on recording your lecture, please refer to this Microsoft Support resource. 

Once you have completed your recording for every slide, you can convert them into a single video for students to view by clicking on File -> Export. You can choose to create a video to upload on the learning management system or send the video straight to Microsoft Stream and then share the link. The advantage of having it on Microsoft Stream is that you are then able to auto-generate captions to enhance accessibility. 

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To learn more about publishing a video from PowerPoint, please refer to this set of instructions from Microsoft Support.

The beauty about using PowerPoint to record your lectures is that it allows you to quite easily make changes to specific segments of your presentation without the need to re-do the entire lecture. Simply visit the slide, make the change, re-record and repeat this step.  

There are many ways to get to Rome and if you're up for a challenge, please refer to this resource for tips on editing your video with Adobe Premiere Rush.

Situate your lecture recording within meaningful activities to maximise student engagement with the content. One way to do this is to design before-viewing and after-viewing learning activities. For example, you could get students to brainstorm all they know about a topic and list down what more they'd like to know. Once they have watched the lecture, they could then respond to the questions they had at the start with the objective of identifying even more questions. As an after-viewing activity, you could also post reflection questions with the expectation that students share their responses to these questions at a tutorial, workshop or even on a discussion forum.

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The above steps will help you get started. For an in-depth exploration into the use of recorded lectures to engage your students, please consider enrolling into this online Professional Development course offered by STEM College [RMIT login required].