Video in the Classroom: Equipment and Ideas

liveVideo content is on the rise in education.  The ability to teach students when they are not in class and the opportunity to present more detailed material than, perhaps, we have time for during a single period is much too powerful a tool to ignore.  The equipment needed to produce good quality educational video content are also very easy to acquire.  Students enjoy having the opportunity to learn on their time and concerning subjects that are of particular interest to them.  Video production is one of the fastest rising job markets in the world.  For all of these reasons, teachers can no long afford to ignore video in the classroom.

In this episode I will present some of the ideas that I am currently using as well as things I have heard from other teachers.  I will also offer some suggestions about equipment and how it can be acquired.  It is not necessary to spend a great deal of budget on toys but, at the same time, if you have the opportunity, you can really create some exciting material.

captivate_cc_splashCurrently I am creating educational videos using Adobe Captivate 2017.  The learning curve is modestly steep, as with all Adobe products, but the interface is familiar, as is also the case with most Adobe software.  The most useful feature, to me, that the program offers the ability to create interactive video simulations captured from the desktop.  I can start the recorder, open a program or web page, and then work through a lesson just as I were doing it.  Captivate records audio and video from the desktop so that my students see what I would be looking at if I were running the program.  It is, without doubt, the best way to teach a new software or a technique.  I can also import text, slides, PowerPoint presentations, Photoshop images, video and animation, or just about any sort of data you could think of.  Captivate can create interactive videos that allow me to set short quizzes throughout the presentation and even grade those assignments as the students work through them.  It also allows me to use SCORM packages with LMS systems like Canvas in order to include the results of those assignments in the grade books.

In order to shoot video the easiest tool is the one everyone already has.  When my engineering students complete their model rocket projects, they all video their own launches using cell phones.  We can export the footage and edit it in Premier Pro or Microsoft Movie-maker.  All of these tools are free (except Premier Pro which is available via a subscription with an academic discount.  Click the link to sign up.), and most students already know how to use them.

canonXF105For shooting a video lesson, I would definitely recommend a standard video camera.  The Canon XF-105 is an excellent choice.  Most DSLR cameras will also record video of suitable quality to create passable content but, as with everything, the better quality tool you use, the better your end product is apt to be.  An excellent skill for any teacher is the ability to edit video with Premier Pro or some other non-linear editing system.  It is also important, and often overlooked, to have a decent quality microphone available.  I recently acquired a Yeti Blackout USB mic for my podcasting students which allows us to create great quality recordings.  To round out the production gear, a decent set of studio lights (most are available for under $150) makes any video you shoot look much better.

Finally, let me offer a suggestion if you are inexperienced at creating video.  The Adobe Education Exchange offers a great deal of free educational content that qualifies for Professional Development hours for most teachers.  You can learn how to shoot, edit, and publish video content to the Internet as well as how to design professional looking content in other media like print, web pages, or pod casts.