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Best Practices for Recorded Presentations and Podcasts
There are bet practices for recorded presentations (audio and video) to ensure that this instructional technology strategy is used effectively, and that it meets the needs of the audience or learner. Following the guidelines presented below will ensure that the time invested in creating recorded presentations will be worthwhile and enhance the student's or participant's experience. The information below is from best practices gathered from highly cited sources in the field of learning design and learning technologies.
Utilizing Recorded Presentations and Podcasts for Instruction
Supplemental recordings can be a powerful way to disseminate information to students outside of the traditional lecture format. Below are a few ways that instructors can use supplemental audio and video recordings:
- Give verbal feedback explaining the most commonly misunderstood concepts on a recent homework assignment or test.
- Create a brief audio or video digest or summary of the most salient topics covered in a previous or future session.
- Provide accompanying diagrams, illustrations, or other digital media to help convey information using a multimedia approach.
- Create a reusable learning object that explains a particular concept in more detail than instructors can provide in a classroom.
- Recorded presentations are often used in the "Flipped Classroom", an instructional strategy where classroom time is spent doing active learning activities rather than lecturing or delivering information. With this strategy, instructors are able to provide a series of concise media recordings to convey the information before students come together in-class, thus freeing up additional face-to-face class time for more discussion and active learning.
- Provide a software demo, or demonstration of a visual modeling process.
If considering to use podcasts or recorded presentations in this course, there are a few things that should be kept in mind:
1. Keep it Short
Aim to chunk or modularize your content for recordings that are 10-15 minutes in length. Research shows that sustained human attention begins to decrease significantly after 20-30 minutes; keeping the recordings within this range will help keep the student more focused on the central message of the content. Having the recordings more modularized and topical will also provide instructors with the benefit of being able to re-use them for different purposes.
2. Limit the Number of New Concepts
When planning out what information to present in the recording, it is good to limit the number of new concepts that will be introduced. In today's complex world, information overload is a very real concern, so instructors need to be careful not to overload students, which is essentially what may happen when too many new pieces of information are presented to them at one time. A good rule of thumb suggests limiting the content to 3 to 7 "chunks" of new material. This will give students a manageable amount of new information to store in working memory. New material can then be later reinforced with activities and discussion.
3. Do not include course-specific information, such as dates and numbers
Do not include course numbers, section numbers, dates, or other course logistics that may limit the shelf-life and reusability of the content. Keep the content as neutral as possible.
4. Tips for Engaging Content
Students most enjoy learning new information when they are actively engaged, and not just read aloud a set of PowerPoint slides. Instructors can rely on similar classroom instructional strategies for active learning when creating recorded content. Active learning is a process whereby students engage in activities, or problem solving that promote analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of course content. Cooperative learning, problem-based learning, and the use of case methods and simulations are some approaches that promote active learning. Instructors can use some of these strategies in the recorded presentations, for example to present a case study or problem to get students to begin tho think through real-world problems in their own context. Providing a mix of information and examples can be a very effective way to present the content. Another strategy is to consider a follow-up activity in-class or in the course site that is related to items directly discussed in the recording.
5. Keep it Natural or "Real"
It is easy to get frustrated after multiple attempts to try and record the "perfect" recorded presentation. Do not sweat it! Keep it natural, just like in a live class. Rest assured knowing that just about every instructor jumbles their words at least once or twice. Just relax and take a conversational approach in the recorded presentations and let personality or teaching style come through. Some people like to have a script to read from, but a simple outline can often work best to ensure that all of the important points get covered, and can help keep a natural flow in speaking rather than simply reading a script. Try to take a similar approach with the recorded presentation like with a live class session.
6. Select the Appropriate Tool/Technology
There are countless software options and accessories for creating recorded presentations. As any professional knows, it is important to select the right tool for the job. This can make the difference to help create effective instructional products. Software or tool selection will depend greatly on various factors, such as the learning goals and context. So just as with any other design problem (this one being an instructional design problem), work with the EPD Learning Design & Technologies Group to help with instructional analyses in order to select the best tools and instructional strategies. Once the right tool is found, consultation and training will be able to be provided. For a general idea of some of the software and tools for recorded presentations (i.e. screencasts, podcasts, etc.), visit the technical resource page on recorded presentations: software and tools.
7. Listen, Watch, and Learn ("You'll know it when you see it")
Whichever type of recorded presentation that is being planned to be made (i.e. screencast, podcast, recorded PowerPoint presentation, etc.), it can be very useful to watch good or bad examples of recorded presentations. They can provide practical examples of what to emulate and sometimes, what not to do. Here are a few examples of recorded presentations. Remember that the style and characteristics of a recorded presentation will vary depending on the audience, context and even production budget, but these examples are meant to illustrate some best practices.
- Lynda.com - Provides an incredible library of highly professional screencasts for software demonstrations and other technical training
- Common Craft Video Series
- Example from Khan Academy
- Example Recorded PowerPoint Presentation using Screencasting Software (Jake Blanchard, UW-Madison College of Engineering)
- Example Software Demo using Screencasting Software (Jake Blanchard, UW-Madison College of Engineering)
- Example Recorded PowerPoint Presentation using Camtasia Screencasting Software (Carl Vieth, UW-Madison Engineering Professional Development)
- Example Recorded Presentation using MediaSite Recording Studio (John Booske, UW-Madison College of Engineering) - need CAE login
- NCSU - Research-Based Best Practices for Teaching Online: Recorded Lectures
- UW TeachOnline@UW - Instructional Materials: Digital Media Best Practices and Tools
- Podcasting Best Practices
- Does Active Learning Work? A Review of the Research (pdf)
- Excellent blog post on the Flipped Classroom in Higher Education
- The Flipped Classroom: Myths vs. Reality
- UW-Madison Engineering Professor Flips Course with Active Learning and sees Gains in Student Learning