As I incorporate video into my classes (online and supplemental in my face-to-face classes) I find that there are many new “tricks” and “techniques” that are pushed for producers to use – in education as well as the many business applications for video.
One thing I like is to have me visible at times as well as the other visual content. I feel this helps keep my students engaged and watching/listening to the video more than if it was simply one or the other: just me as a “talking head” or just the information without a person or face with it. Mind you, there is probably research out there to confirm this feeling, but I’m not quoting it here now.
I know whatever visual changes we make helps keep our limited attention span connected to the message, and eye contact in communication provides “immediacy” (or: Cognitive Valence Theory– section on Verbal and Nonverbal Communication) which helps the listener stay engaged.
I found a couple tools I can use to put face and information together in my video. Each has some advantages and disadvantages. Let me explain my perspective and experience with them.
Panopto is relatively simple . . .
One is incorporated into the LMS we use at my university and is possibly available to you as well: Panopto. Panopto is relatively simple to use to capture you via your computer’s web cam as you go through your PowerPoint or Keynote slides. Once recorded, I wait for it to render and then I can download the video podcast in one of several formats: primary video only (me); secondary video only (my slides); picture-in-picture (with me small in the lower right corner); side-by-side; or tile all streams (which ends up being the same as side-by-side for me since I only have the two streams).
The picture-in-picture and side-by-side are my favorites. But sometimes I want to change views during the video instead of maintaining the same view throughout. In order to do that with Panopto videos, I have to download the different views I want and edit them together (I use either iMovie or Premier.) I try not to take the additional time for that extra step.
Whichever way I use the video, I can embed it into my course or web page.
Soapbox is simple and flexible . . .
My other approach is using Soapbox. Soapbox is simple and flexible to learn and to use. This is a Crome add-on, so I have to use that instead of my usual Safari or Firefox, but that is really not a deal-breaker for me. Wistia allows you to use Soapbox for free, but there are limitations, of course.
To record, you have your presentation open, make sure your computer web cam is aimed properly, and begin. To use the recording, you can leave it as it is with a split screen showing you and your presentation side-by-side, or you can edit it. The editing allows you to clip the beginning and end points, and let’s you choose between the side-by-side, the presentation alone, or you alone. This variety can help emphasize the presentation information or bring you in front of your audience for that personal communication touch. This is an easier way to add variety to the video.
The limitation of the free version is that you cannot download the video or embed it into your course or web page. You have to provide the viewer with a link to Soapbox/Wistia for them to watch the video. This may not seem like a big deal, but I like to keep my students in my class as much as possible. Opening another window is like opening a window. By that I mean that it is one more distraction from the class itself. I try to avoid distractions from the class as much as possible, so I limit my use of Soapbox even though I like it.
With enough money, none of this would be a problem – one could hire the production staff and let them worry about it!
For me, I still go between the two trying to decide.