Tag Archives: video

Lecture Online?

With all this talk of the dreaded ‘p’ word (that’s PANDEMIC, for those of you not in the University environment), a spotlight has been placed on ensuring courses can continue offsite. We already have the ability to deliver course materials online, quizzing online, assignments online… but what about the lectures themselves?

We’ve probably all seen some examples of lecture content online, and many of us have differing opinions about what is best. There is a big difference between a 1-hour recorded lecture viewed online,  and a free-flowing lecture and discussion where the students are all present and interacting with the instructor and the environment. (Hopefully that’s what happens in a face-to-face lecture, and I’m not ruling that out for online components.)

So what should we be recommending to faculty who want to have an online lecture presence? What is my idea of a perfect online lecture?

If we’re talking about an audio/video lecture, to be viewed asynchronously by students (with no real student participation),  the online lecture components are planned, to the point and as engaging as the technology and the topic allow. When I say ‘to the point’, I think they shouldn’t be “too long” (5-10 minutes is perfect!). That doesn’t mean the whole lecture has to be summed up in 5-10 minutes — but the important concepts should be broken apart into their own separate entries. These may be delivered via a streaming technology (where users must view them online, in a web browser) or something like a podcast (where users download the content, and view offline on their computer or on a mobile device)

On the other hand, an “online class” delivered via a collaboration tool such as Adobe Connect may go for much longer, as there are lecture portions as well as student questions and feedback. This is a less structured model, with its own benefits and drawbacks… and it requires more time. Participant audio and video adds another layer of complexity to this model, but when it works well can result in some really great community building and concept development.

Start to think about some of these possibilities as we plan for offsite learning. The method you choose will depend on the topic, the style of the lecture, the technologies available, and often how tech-savvy the students are.

Please feel free to leave a comment with your ideas and past experiences – we would love to hear them!

Captioning the world, two formats at a time?

Back to looking at captioning of video content…

Originally, we did Quicktime video captioning, since our tutorials were all Quicktime files (for podcasting). Then, we opted to switch them all over to Flash for the new website (which has yet to be completed). It was almost like having to do it all twice!! The process was incredibly painful, and you constantly have to tweak to get it right. This really isn’t something that most people would be willing to do…

The first problem we face is the transcribing of the video — luckily, I usually work on short (5 minute), scripted videos. That means I basically have a transcript to work with at the get-go. How would this work when dealing with a lecture, or other kinds of live, unscripted and often lengthy types of presentations??

The next consideration is format — do you want to podcast, stream, embed flash in a webpage… or even put on a DVD to be viewed on a television? For those of us working manually, this needs to be decided before you start — and you pray you don’t change your mind later, or need to offer it in various formats.

This brings me to the focus of this post… captioning software. This is my first real look into the features available in software, and the costs involved. The two that keep coming up in my searches are both available at http://www.cpcweb.com – CaptionMaker for Windows, and MacCaption for Mac. Neither one will do audio-to-text, so you need to have a transcript to start. Basically, both are tools that will make the captioning (placing text on the appropriate screen, at the appropriate time, in the appropriate format) a little simpler for the person doing it, AND can export to various formats. Sounds like a great idea to someone like me, who has spent far too much time taking my caption info from Quicktime and trying to master the art of "find & replace" in order to get it in the right format for Flash.

The problem? These come with an incredibly high price tag. I find it baffling that the cost of the software for making a video would be less than the software for doing the captioning. This isn’t to say that it wouldn’t be worth it — actually, that’s something that needs to be assessed. How often will it be used? By how many people?

In any case, this blog will serve as a reminder that I need to find a better solution than the fully manual process I use now…