For decades, the video camera has been a favorite tool of those who want to capture meaningful moments or present their creative vision onscreen. Over the years, many innovative instructors had also found ways to create video that inspired their students and demonstrated key course concepts in a way that transcended words.

Now, with the growth of online learning and the rise of interest in the “flipped classroom” model, more instructors are choosing to use video as a means of presenting valuable course content. If you are among these instructors, you are likely also investigating the best tools you can use to create and deliver your video lecture. Many instructors are choosing to use a webcam or screencast software (as mentioned in posts by author Cathy Scott and Cengage Learning TeamUP Faculty Programs Consultant Shawn Orr); these can be recorded using your desktop computer, laptop, or tablet. On the other hand, when you think about the type of video you want to create, you may find that using a video camera better suits your needs.

As you think about starting your video-making endeavor, you’ll have a few decisions to make about the tools, software, and equipment you’ll use. Below, we’ve summarized some points for you to consider, based on the the recommendations for video creation and editing that Kenneth Baldauf and Ralph M. Stair present in their book Succeeding with TechnologyFourth Edition:

  • How you’ll record the lecture. You could consider using your smartphone or tablet as your recording device! Experiment, and see if you find the quality satisfactory for your purposes. However, if you want a higher-quality video, you may want to invest in a video camera. You’ll find a variety of camcorders offered in a range of prices, from inexpensive one-time-use models, to pocket cameras, to handheld, high-definition models priced at around $200… all the way up to professional cameras that sell for hundreds (or thousands) of dollars. As you think about the camera you’ll need, also take each model’s recording resolution into account (as a frame of reference, high-definition video cameras record at 1080p, which is the same resolution of most high-definition televisions). Do note that, while many of the digital cameras you’d use to take photos can also record video, they’ll do so at a lower resolution than most camcorders.
  • Your means of editing the video. Sometimes, simple is fine; a straightforward recording of you delivering the lecture will suffice for your needs. However, in other cases, you’ll want to create a more polished production (or at least edit out the hiccups, mistakes, and awkward pauses). If that’s true for you, it’s wise to invest in and use video editing software for your computer. Some popular options include Adobe® Premier®, Microsoft® Windows Movie Maker®, and Apple’s iMovie® and Final Cut Pro® (but check to see what your institution may make available, and also ask your colleagues for recommendations). Concerned about learning the software? Conduct an online search for a tutorial (e.g., “Windows Movie Maker tutorial”) and you will find a number of helpful how-to videos and walkthroughs.
  • How you’ll store the video. Video files can be large—over a gigabyte, if the video is lengthy—and if you make a number of them, you’ll quickly use up the space on your hard drive! Thus, to keep the memory on your computer available for other files, you should burn your videos to DVDs, save them to an external storage device such as a flash drive, or use a cloud-based storage service.
  • How you’ll distribute the video. If you teach in a traditional classroom, you can bring your DVD into the classroom and play it using the room’s audiovisual equipment—or, perhaps project it directly from your laptop. However, if you hope to post the video online, you’ll probably need to compress the video down to a more manageable size, so that students can download or stream the video with greater ease (and also spend less time waiting for the video to load). (364-366)

Reference: Baldauf, Kenneth and Stair, Ralph M. 2011. Succeeding with Technology, Fourth Edition. Boston, MA: Course Technology, Cengage Learning.

How do you create videos for your courses? Do you use a camcorder, or do you find screencasting more effective? Do you have any tips for instructors who hope to begin making videos? Share your insights below.