Further to this recent post on capturing, processing and captioning video, my colleague, Dr. Audrey Cameron, advised me to try YouTube for capturing the .srt captions file more quickly. I am thankful to her for this, because although I was aware of YouTube’s rapidly improving automatic captioning (I use it myself when I watch with sound off, for example), I didn’t know that the .srt file can be downloaded. Here’s a revised approach I am using today.
Capturing the video and audio
For capturing an old-fashioned lecture-style talk using KeyNote, I use the facility to record a presentation (from the Play menu). The presentation can be exported as a .m4v video file with sound. At the same time as recording the presentation in KeyNote, I also record myself on my Fuji X-T2 camera and capture a high quality audio track separately on a Zoom H-1 recorder. A “pro” tip to is to clap just before you start presenting – it leaves a nice spike in the audio waveforms, making it easy to line up the separate tracks. You can also pretend to be Steven Spielberg or Alfred Hitchcock, according to your genre, by saying, “Action!” at the same time.
Import the video and audio tracks into iMovie, align them using the spike from your clap, and check that the audio is the same length as in the video track of the speaker. I found that for longer videos, over 15 minutes, they can be different. This difference produces an echo effect, eventually separating the video from the soundtrack, like a Swedish movie. Adjusting the audio to align properly can easily be done in iMovie using the speed adjustment. Once the clips are aligned, you can turn the audio level of the video clips down to zero, so only the high quality track remains.
The next thing I do is to change the video track of the presenter to “Picture in picture”, so viewers can see me presenting within the slides: I think this is a bit of a substitute for one of the features I miss from live presenting, which is managing the attention of the viewer. I normally do this by blanking the display, which has the effect of moving the eyes in the room from the screen to my face – a powerful way to add contrast to your talk. This “mini me” within the slides can be faded in or out, according to what you want the students to focus on at any point. Other effects are possible, like switching to embedding the presentation within the presenter video.
The finished project can be exported via the Share menu to a .mp4 file.
Getting the transcript
The video can be uploaded to YouTube now: you’ll need a verified account to upload clips longer than 15 minutes, which means giving Google your phone number. I baulked at this at first, but expedient is the slayer of principle, and in this case, privacy. Make sure you click “Private” when saving the clip. These lectures are not for public consumption.
After a while – maybe 30 minutes, depending on the length of your video – the automatically-generated captions file can be edited using a really nice editing interface in YouTube Studio designed for the purpose. You will need to add punctuation and if you wish, add comments to your own commentary. Once that has been done, the .srt file is ready to download.
Media Hopper Create
Your video can now be used within your local VLE, in my case, Blackboard Learn, by uploading via the media manager, Media Hopper. Once uploaded, you can then add closed captions by uploading the .srt file alongside it. Students then have a choice whether to access captions within the video sequences or not.
I was about to post this, all smug, like, as I uploaded the latest video made with this method, when I hit a “file too large” error when uploading to Media Hopper. The video I had made was just short of 18 minutes and had a file size of 1.2GB. Now, mp4 is an efficient container format so I maybe made too many “best quality” choices in making the video: high definition 1080p for the presenter, same for the KeyNote. Rather than go back and do it all again, I resorted to ffmpeg to make me a reduced bitrate version. I thought halving the bitrate might produce a file half the size.
$ ffmpeg -i mybigvideo.mp4 # find out what the current bitrate is..
Duration: 00:17:28.55, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 9978 kb/s
$ ffmpeg -i mybigvideo.mp4 -b 4489k mysmallervideo.mp4
This made (after thrashing my 5-year old MacBook Air for about 25 minutes) a file – as hoped for – half the size (673 MB).
Deployment to a website
To use the video and captions file together within a webpage is straightfroward, except that the captions need to be in a different format. This format is Web Video Text Tracks (VTT), and is easily obtained using ffmpeg:
$ ffmpeg -i srtfile.srt subtitlefile.vtt
The web page needs the following code (adapted to your own file paths, obviously):
Your browser does not support the video tag.
Video production for ‘digital first’ teaching strategies needed in response to COVID-19 measures or similar, is a non-trivial task. Including closed captions is an additional time multiplier. Personally, I don’t like asynchronous teaching at all: it misses so many important aspects of good pedagogy, aspects which are easily ignored by administrators of education in the pursuit of apparent economies or easy fixes. I am at ease, however, with an established workflow.
I am thankful to my colleague, Audrey, for her patience and support in helping me get to this solution. We both have a lot of videos to make, and now it will not take me as long as it might have done.
I am required to produce video resources for my students who are coming to the University very soon, either in person or digitally: our teaching under the COVID adjustments is “digital first”. We are also particularly keen to support those students who might require captions on their videos. This isn’t just those who might be hearing or visually impaired, it’s all students who might like the ability sometimes to have the extra clarity provided by words on the screen that reflect the words spoken by the presenter.
Here’s my take on a workflow model to make this work well. There are existing facilities to do this semi-automatically – uploaded videos can have an automated transcription generated but this takes a lot of time, and requires the creator to go back on subsequent days to hand-edit any errors or make any other adjustments.
I like to do a task and complete it: I like to get it right and take my time over that. Once it’s done, I like to move on to the next set of tasks. To that end, here is a way I have found of creating video, with quality captioning for those who need it, and the ability to switch it off for those who find it a distraction.
Subtitles are embedded in DVD movies and the like for languages other than that on the audio. Multiple subtitle tracks can be embedded within a title, or switched off if the audio track is in the native language of the speaker. Captions, on the other hand, are a transcription of dialogue in the video. Closed captions are distinguished from open captions by being able to be switched off if required. Open captions are often embedded in the video and cannot be turned off. My intention in this workflow is to provide closed captions.
Capturing the video and audio
I captured my video for the proof-of-concept using a Fuji X-T2 APS-C digital mirrorless camera which takes 1080p (1920 x 1080) video. Although the camera records stereo audio, I prefer to capture audio separately using a Zoom H-1 recorder. The quality is much better, not least because the mic is with the speaker, not the camera.
I import the video and audio tracks into iMovie, trim out the top and tail and make other edits, and remove the embedded audio track captured by the camera. This is replaced with the Zoom audio, which can be a bit of a fiddle to align well with the video. The audio waveform can help here but that depends on the recording environment. Depending on the exposure settings on the camera, you might want to “enhance” the video in iMovie for a contrastier image. Once you have added any title sequences (or credits) and transitions, export the finished video (via the “share” menu) as an mp4 file.
Getting the transcript
Open the mp4 file in Quicktime and export as an audio file, the default m4a format is OK. This file can be uploaded to a blank Word document in Office 365 via the Dictate drop-down menu (select Transcribe). This will do a pretty decent job of turning your dialogue into text.
Save the .docx file and convert it to a plain text format - I prefer markdown, although this isn’t necessary provided you can finish up with a plain text file. I do the conversion using pandoc:
$ pandoc transcript.docx -o transcript.md
This file can now be edited, correcting any errors in the transcription and chunking the dialogue to make it show at the right time during the video. This is easily done with the video window open on the desktop next to your editor. You should add section markers and timestamps for subtitles as you go through the video. A minimal example:
00:00:01,00 --> 00:00:01,30
Welcome to my interesting video.
Finally, you will need this transcript in the correct format for embedding into the video file. This is a simple matter of changing the filetype to .srt (which is a “SubRip Subtitle” file).
Add Closed Captions to the video file
The ffmpeg tool is best for this. This tool (and others you might need) can be installed simply using brew if it isn’t already on your system. I don’t propose to detail how to do this, but in essence, it’s a matter of typing$ brew install ffmpeg in a terminal window. Once you have it, add the captions:
The program accepts input files, which are you video and the srt file containing the captions and timings. Video and audio are merely copied to the output file.
Finished, part one
The video file you have just created is now shareable: users can play it on their machines and opt to switch captioning on or off if they wish. Their computer may choose to control this behaviour automatically if local settings allow it.
I need to distribute this video using resources within the VLE (virtual learning environment, in my case, Blackboard Learn and Media Hopper. This is where it gets sticky.
Media Hopper Create
It’s easy to upload a video to the Blackboard VLE by clicking on Media Hopper Create in the Tools menu. This is very nice but this process strips out the captions track. Embedding the uploaded video offer no CC option to viewers and no captions are visible. This is clearly a fault in the Media Hopper Create system.
You can ask for subtitles to be created for the uploaded video but this is an automated and low-quality service that isn’t really any good. It creates, ironically, a CC track that is inferior to the one included in the uploaded file.
I have found a way of getting around this difficulty: within Learn, add a new item. This is effectively a webpage, and using the editing tools, you can upload two files. The first is the mp4 video file (it is not necessary for this file to have the embedded captions track).
The second file contains the captions and timing information in our srt file, but needs to be in a different format. This format is Web Video Text Tracks (VTT), and is easily obtained using ffmpeg:
$ ffmpeg -i srtfile.srt subtitlefile.vtt
Having uploaded these two files to the Learn Item, it is necessary to edit the HTML using the built-in HTML editor (click the double chevron at the right end of the tool bar to reveal it). The item source should be edited to contain a <video> tag:
Your browser does not support the video tag.
The path to video and the vtt files is available in the links to them put thee by Learn when you uploaded the files. It is not necessary to keep these links.
Finished, part two
This is a workaround but we now have the facility to make and upload good quality video with closed captioning that can be viewed by students within their Learn course.
So you have just started using Microsoft Teams with your primary school class – now what?
Microsoft Teams can be described as an all-in-one Swiss-Army-Knife online digital tool – with facility for classroom conversations, shared space for collaborative Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, assignments tool for easily setting tasks for individuals, groups or the whole class (and providing feedback) and OneNote Class Notebook multi-purpose digital ring-binder, all made more accessible to all learners with Immersive Reader Learning Tools.
That might make it sound overwhelming for your class, so…
Start small – make connections
Don’t try and do everything at once!Microsoft Teams provides many features which can be used with your class but you don’t need to use them all right away. The Posts/Conversation area of a class Team is the first part users will see when they log into Teams, whether via browser, desktop app on computer/laptop, or mobile device smartphone/tablet. So this is the place suggested to start.
In the Posts tab you can share text, images or video.
So you can share information with your class either as:
Text (and where pupils can use Immersive Reader in the browser to read it aloud (pupils just click on the 3 dots to the right of the message and choose “Immersive Reader”);
Add a link to a web resource you wish the pupils to use;
Share a picture of a visual diagram of the tasks (as you might do in your classroom) – just click on the paperclip icon to upload a picture;
You might create a short video with your voice (so it’s familiar to your pupils) and the camera pointing at a piece of paper on which you are writing, or a book, picture or object such as classroom toy.
Set up channels in your class Team
When you first create a Team for your class you will automatically get a channel called the general channel. By default everyone in your class will be able to post there. And at the beginning that might be okay as everyone starts to use it.
However often you might find that you want to provide another channel within the Team for general chit-chat for the pupils and you as the teacher change the settings so that the main general channel can only have content added by you. So once you’ve set up additional channels then go into the Team settings and switch off the facility for pupils to be able to post there so that only you can post in the general channel.
You can set up channels for different areas of learning, perhaps by curricular area or for a specific topic or a group. This can help keep conversations related to each area in their respective spaces and not all jumbled together.
It’s suggested to create a channel for your class to have friendly chat so that the general channel does not get cluttered there (telling them that’s what it’s for but that you can still see it). And then restricting them from posting in the general channel. As a member of staff in a class in Microsoft Teams you are a Team Owner
Here’s how you can add an additional channel for class chat where pupils can post.
Go to the list (or tiles) showing all of your teams in Microsoft Teams
Click on the 3 dots (ellipsis) … to the right of the team name
Click “Manage channels”
Click “Add a new channel” (and name it something like Class Chat or Blether Station) and click done.
Primary teacher Roddy Graham shared his ideas for how he’d structured his class in Microsoft Teams so that there were a number of specific channels set up for specific purposes. Choosing the channels to have for your class depends on you and your class so getting the balance between too few and too many is something which only you and your experience with your class can determine. As Roddy Graham explained “Too few mean people aren’t sure whether to post something or not, or it can get too clogged up with random things. With children using these, it may take time to work successfully but here’s some channels I’m setting up for my pupils to use and why.” Here’s Roddy Graham’s channels for his class, along with the explanations for the purpose of each:
“ The Library – a place to talk about books being read at home and share any related learning they do. The Gym Hall – a place to share any physical activity they do, including home fitness or games. Ask the Teacher – a place to ask non-learning related questions, possibly things that are worrying them and they need a bit of reassurance. #NoFilter – a place to share photos of how they are spending their days so their classmates can view Taskmaster – inspired by the TV show so a place to share a fun challenge/daily task for class to tackle Literacy and Maths Tool Boxes – a place to share support resources for tasks set – websites, videos, documents The Playground – a place where the class can chat about anything they like, just as they would in their school playground. The teacher can keep track of everything pupils type (and they are told this)”
You may add additional channels as works for your class, perhaps for curricular areas, perhaps having one for pupils to offer support or share knowledge to other pupils (as teacher Carol Diamond called her channel “Tiny Teacher Talk – where they can ask each other how to do things/for hints/tips or share their knowledge about something which is their strength), or maybe a Weekly Reflections or Time Capsule Thoughts channel where pupils might share about their experiences during distance learning over the previous week,; or maybe a Fun Foto Friday, Talent Show or anything else which fits in with building the culture of your classroom community.
How can you keep your Microsoft Teams classroom organized?
Use channels for specific activities Admins only on general channel Set up a tab for week's schedule
Once you have your channels set up you can create an announcement in the General channel of your Microsoft Teams class and add a table. Into the table add links to each of the channels (to get the link just click on the three dots beside each channel name and copy the link provided. Then go back to the text in your table, highlight the text and click on the link icon to paste the link you copied.
Whether it’s naming your channels in your class in Microsoft Teams, or when sharing information or activities in posts/conversations/announcements in your class in Microsoft Teams, or in names of sections and pages in your OneNote Class Notebook attached to your Microsoft Teams class then the addition of the visual cue of an appropriate emoji makes the text easier to identify in a list and also makes it more classroom friendly.
Click here for a blogpost about the use of emojis to support education – this contains lots of information about how these can support learning, as well as lots of examples of where they have been used. And if you’re wondering how you’d find just the emoji you need then that blogpost also contains a link to Emojipedia where you can type the word you want and a suggested emoji will be shown ready for you to copy and paste where needed.
Manage the settings of your class team
Once you’ve created your class space in Microsoft Teams it would be a good idea to manage the settings so that you can make choices about what you want your pupils to be able to do in your Team.
The choices are yours as you know your class best. Your level of familiarity with the tools available might make you decide to restrict what can be done by pupils at the outset and then enable features as you and your class become familiar with them. Or you might take the opposite view and leave everything enabled and only restrict an individual feature until you’ve had a conversation with the class about it, and responsible use. So you might want to disable the facility for pupils to share stickers, memes and animated gifs (you can switch them off and on at any time), you can make sure that pupils can’t add or delete channels, and you can ensure that pupils can only edit or delete their own posts in the posts/conversations. Teams manage members settings allows a teacher at any time to mute pupils, individually or collectively, to stop postings being able to be made temporarily for any reason.
Created this little reminder for pupils on how we keep our Teams learning spaces positive, helpful & productive during our period of distance learning – Planning to pop on our pages tonight so both pupils & parents can view. Happy to share if useful @HwbNews@MicrosoftTeamspic.twitter.com/ncOdC9jMBR
If you have older children, and you are looking for your class to co-create their own set of positive online expectations, then you might find helpful this School of Education Netiquette Guidelines from Chicago’s Loyola University as the starting point for a discussion to make the positive expectations explained within them re-interpreted in child-friendly language, making them specific to your class use of Microsoft Teams, and perhaps with associated visuals created by your pupils.
Everyday Etiquette for Microsoft Teams – a detailed guide, by Matt Wade and Chris Webb, to setting expectations around managing the use of Microsoft Teams with users. This is not aimed at primary school use of Microsoft Teams (and some of the features such as private chat and video camera use in video meets don’t apply to the configuration in Glow) but may be helpful as prompts for a teacher to perhaps have pupils come up with their own class-friendly versions, dependent on their age and experience and how it’s wanted to be in their class.
So you may wish to have a way of having a check-in with your pupils, to find out how they are, to show they have connected in your online class in Microsoft Teams. You can make use of a Microsoft Forms check-in form which pupils can complete when they come into your class in Microsoft Teams – and as well as asking how they are (with responses which might be by clicking beside an appropriate choice of emoji face) you can perhaps incorporate a bit of fun, and involvement so that pupils look forward to completing it each time, by having a different light-hearted question each time. The less predictable and funnier the questions the more likely your pupils might be to look forward to completing it. And because it would be a form within Microsoft Teams it means it already keeps a note of who responded (without pupils having to type their name) for the teacher to be able to access in Microsoft Forms. Click here for a ready-made template in Microsoft Forms (on the Microsoft Education Support site) ready for you to click on “Duplicate” button and adapt your your own needs.
Teachers in their classrooms have always found ways to engage their learners, to ensure every voice is heard, to coax the reluctant participant, to check understanding, to provide opportunities for collaboration, to create the environment for every learner to demonstrate their understanding, to move learners forward and build on previous experiences.
An online environment doesn’t change these principles, but instead requires adapting different approaches using available digital tools.
Consider encouraging the positive use of praise stickers (a teacher can control through manage settings options whether these are enabled or disabled for pupils in their Microsoft Teams class) – they can be used from the posts/conversations by clicking on the Sticker icon below where you’d type a message. These can be handy to provide a more visual way of providing positive feedback without having to type – click here for a guide to how to use these, whether on mobile or desktop/laptop
20 Ways to Facilitate Online Class Participation – a post by Halden Ingwersen with 20 suggested tips which apply to any online digital platform and can be adapted for different age groups has been used as a starting point for the approach below. Some things may not apply for specific tools or age groups, but the general advice in Halden Ingwersen’s post remains consistent for when using Microsoft Teams with your primary class:
Be clear in what you expect from your class online;
Become familiar with Microsoft Teams as your class digital learning platform (you don’t need to know about every feature, but make the most of what you use and try to experience from the learner viewpoint);
Provide online spaces within Microsoft Teams for group work (that might be use of channels in Microsoft Teams where focus on specific pieces of work with groups of learners take place, or it might be a collaborative PowerPoint presentation or Word document in Teams files, or a multimedia page in the collaboration spade within the OneNote Class Notebook integrated in your Microsoft Teams class, or at its simplest it might just be using the posts/conversations ensuring the starting point for each conversation group is followed by replies to their group’s task rather than a new conversation);
Share your plan with your class, which might be co-created with your learners or an outline you present of new learning which is going to be covered;
Make sure it’s easy for learners to find their tasks – aim to be consistent as to where learners can expect to find your plan for what’s expected, and provide links or clear steps to find something new.
Provide feedback in conversations/posts – in Microsoft Teams conversations within posts respond with encouragement as you would if you were face to face in the classroom, helping build the reassurance of your learners that you are listening to what they are saying – in the text-based nature of the posts/conversations there is no opportunity for a nod or a smile, but you can encourage through the use of thumbs-up to quickly acknowledge responses
Microsoft Teams has built into it the accessibility tool Immersive Reader Learning Tools. To access in conversations/posts a pupil simply clicks on the three dots … (ellipsis) to the right of any message in the conversations/posts in Microsoft Teams then selects “Immersive Reader.” This will let the user then hear the text played as spoken audio while the individual words are simultaneously highlighted in turn as they are spoken aloud. The pupil can change the background colour to help make it more easily distinguishable to suit the pupil (which only that individual will see, no settings here affect other users) and change the size of text, font, and spacing out of letters on the page. You can even break words into syllables and highlight in different colours nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs (all automatically). And you can switch on picture dictionary which will let a user click on any unfamiliar word and show a Boardmaker image (where available) and hear that word spoken aloud. For pupils where English is not their first language they can also use the inbuilt translate feature to translate individual words or the whole text of any message in conversations/posts in Microsoft Teams.
Connectivity woes or technical hiccups!
Every online platform hiccups from time to time: you might get error messages, things don’t update, you can’t upload files, you can’t share what you need to share – and you can probably add to that list!
Teams provides the facility for you as the teacher to present to your class. Don’t feel under pressure to use this video meet facility right away. And take on board safeguarding and employer requirements in use of such a tool, as well as being mindful of your professional teaching association advice. If this is for you, and you want your pupils to have the familiarity of seeing you and hearing your voice then click on this link for specific step-by-step guidance to setting up a video meet in Teams for your class. If you wish to have only your voice in the video meet then you might instead opt to have the camera pointing at an object (piece of work, paper on which you’ll demonstrate a teaching point, or maybe a piece of writing you’ll discussing together, or perhaps a class toy/character figure!
The files area within a Microsoft Teams class lets pupils within that class work collaboratively (whether real-time or asynchronously). As you would with a face-to-face class the teacher sets the expectations and roles of different groups within a class so that each pupil knows who will work on which document and with whom. No setting changes or permissions need to be made. Everything saves automatically. Pupils can create collaborative real-time PowerPoint presentations, or Word documents, or Excel spreadsheets. They can be uploaded from a device or just click “new” to start one right away in the Files folder/tab in your Microsoft Teams tab. Click on this link for a how-to guide about using Office 365 to create a collaborative Word document in Glow – this is the same process in Microsoft Teams just by clicking on the Files tab in your Microsoft Teams class, with the benefit that the permissions are already set to let anyone in the class collaborate with no need to specify usernames.Click on this link for a guide to creating a collaborative PowerPoint Online and click on this link for guide to creating a collaborative Excel Online spreadsheet. This is the same process in Microsoft Teams just by clicking on the Files tab in your Microsoft Teams class, with the benefit that the permissions are already set to let anyone in the class collaborate with no need to specify usernames
Microsoft Teams includes the option to assign pupils activities, whether tasks for completion by specific dates or to assess understanding of individuals. This can be used to share assessments or quizzes, or share documents to a whole class in such a way that each pupil receives a copy ready for them to edit and submit on completion back to the teacher for feedback, without the rest of the class seeing it. Click here for a guide to making use of the assignments feature of Microsoft Teams.
OneNote Class Notebook
OneNote Class Notebook is built into Microsoft Teams. OneNote Class Notebook is like a digital ring-binder with cardboard colour dividers, and within each section you can have as many pages as you like. Each page is a freeform page which can be any size you wish, and become like your classroom whiteboard, where you can add a very wide range of content (including images, audio, video, documents, presentations, embedded Sway presentations, embedded Forms, and you can freehand draw or write just as you would on your classroom whiteboard. It all saves automatically and is accessible on any device so you can move from working on your smartphone on the OneNote app to working in the browser on a laptop (and other devices).
A OneNote Note Class Notebook already comes with the permissions for your pupils to access and collaborate on anything in the collaboration space, so you’ve no setting or permissions to worry about if you wish a group of pupils to work on something together, just create the page and tell them who’s working on it. In addition to these collaboration spaces a OneNote Class Notebook also has a section which the pupils can see, but on which only the teacher can add or edit content – handy for sharing what you might have shared on your classroom whiteboard. This is called the library space. There is also a teacher-only section which can be enabled (so you can create content ahead of time and move into the library when you wish pupils to make use of it. And the OneNote Class Notebook within Microsoft Teams also has individual sections for each pupil – which only you as teacher can see and that individual pupil (other pupils can’t see anyone else’s sections).
And if that wasn’t enough, OneNote Class Notebook built into a Microsoft Teams class also has Immersive Reader Learning Tools built in providing accessibility options for all learners.
Gathering feedback, taking quizzes to reinforce learning, or undertaking surveys of views are all the kinds of classroom activities which are ideally suited to the use of Microsoft Forms. Microsoft Forms are built right into Microsoft Teams, either in short-form quick polls with few questions added right inside posts/conversations in Microsoft Teams, or assessments or surveys as simple or as complex as you like created in Microsoft Forms and a link shared in conversations/posts in Microsoft Teams, or assigned to the class using the Assignments feature of Microsoft Teams. Whichever way Forms are assigned to the pupils the teacher then can see the results in one place, and can even be set up to be self-marking or to provide automated feedback depending on answers provided by pupils (using the branching feature of Microsoft Forms. Click here to find out more about Microsoft Forms
If you wish to create a teaching video to share with your class then where do you start?
There are a number of different ways to create a teaching video.
You don’t need lots of fancy filming equipment, specialist lighting, highly scripted text, remote microphones or
a studio set! You can just use what you have available – and be yourself. If you want to be on camera, that’s fine, but if you just want your voice over the activity you are filming then that’s perfectly fine too.
You just need something to record the video (eg phone/tablet) – & your skills and experience as a teacher (and maybe something to edit what you create).
Your choice partly depends on what you are aiming to share – what are you trying to achieve, how much information are you trying to share and in what way will you share the video with your intended audience?
Your choice partly depends on what you want the video to look like – do you want to be on camera, do you wish to include your voice, do you want it to be a video of a PowerPoint presentation (with or without narrated voice), or do you want to make use of animated characters instead of your own image?
Your choice also depends on what device and software/apps you have available to make the teaching videos, whether laptop/desktop, tablet/smartphone and software/apps you can access.
What makes an effective video?
There’s no hard and fast rule about what makes an effective teaching video. Every teacher is different and every class is different so find what works for you and your class. The age of your learners, the way you choose to share a video, whether you wish to have interactivity between shorter videos, and what you are trying to convey in the video, are all considerations to bear in mind. Being clear about what you are trying to share is the biggest consideration! Consider, instead of a long video, chunking a lot of content into perhaps a series of shorter videos each with a specific focus. And try out what you are creating on different devices to see how your learners might view the video. Is it bright enough lighting so that what you are showing is clearly seen, can the sound be clearly heard? You don’t need to make a masterpiece the first time round (or indeed at any time!) so give it a go and make changes in light of your experiences and feedback from your learners.
Camera-Ready Educators: Video As a Learning Staple – a blogpost by Paul Teske and Sarah Brown Wessling which gives food for thought for teachers looking to create a teaching video: “…teachers know it’s not the screen alone that engages students. It’s how teachers use video as part of deliberate instructional design that creates the opportunity for learning and growth. Teachers use video in various ways for various purposes, each thoughtfully constructed.” That blogpost succinctly summarises and provides points for reflection for teachers using video whether it’s for teaching new content, differentiation, scaffolding and support, or for conveying information about such things as class announcements and routines.
The experiences of others can help you make your own judgement about what will work and then you have the feedback from your own class of learners.
If you are showing something you are writing – whether that’s simple phonics, handwriting formations, numeracy processes or anything else which involves writing – then you can point your phone/tablet camera at the paper or wipe-clean whiteboard, press record on the phone/tablet camera and start talking. Having your phone/tablet affixed to a tripod, a home-made stand or propped up so it won’t move is probably wise!
Keeping your video short is beneficial both for your own sake in not having to redo or edit a long video in which you wish to make a change, but also it’s helpful for sharing online somewhere to have smaller videos as they upload more quickly. If you are sharing on Twitter there is also a restriction on the length which will upload, but if sharing on your classroom digital platform you can add accompanying explanatory text, and perhaps have a sequence of short videos (each labelled with identifying text) so that pupils can more easily watch the parts as often as necessary for what they are doing.
Here’s example of videos shared by teachers where the camera is pointed at the writing area, and with the teacher voice added as narration, or using a class toy or puppet to provide the on-screen persona:
We are practising the parts of the body this week.
1. Practise the words 2. Draw a real or made up person with lots of detail if you can. 3. Label the parts on them in Spanish. 4. Keep your drawing safe, you’ll need it again. pic.twitter.com/ur3Rf1Dvbf
The likelihood is that the device you have to hand for taking videos is your smartphone or mobile tablet, a device such as an iPad. And that’s perfectly fine for taking video to share with your learners.
Whatever app you are running on an iPad then you can create a teaching video where you record whatever is on the iPad screen, where you can if you wish, add your voice-over to explain what your learners are seeing.
Do you want to appear on camera beside your screen recording on an iPad? Then here’s how you can use split screen to record yourself on the iPad camera while recording activity on the iPad
Want a video of yourself teaching alongside your lesson visuals? Use Split View alongside Screen Recording on an iPad. Quick and easy way to create lessons with a more personalised touch – pupils see you as well as your content. Give it a try and let me know how you get on! pic.twitter.com/6KejVHX2B0
If you have the latest version of PowerPoint then you have the facility to capture a video recording of whatever is on your PC/laptop – whether that’s the PowerPoint presentation or indeed anything on the PC which you wish to show to include in the video.
NEW! I've created a new "Video and Screen Recording Tools" YouTube playlist chock full of quick tip videos
PowerPoint has the option to create a video from your presentation. Just open the PowerPoint presentation and go to File > Export > Save as Video. This will incorporate all that you’ve included in timings, narration, animations, media, and transitions.
If you wish to include yourself (or something else) in a video where the background is of something else, the subject of your video, then using the greenscreen facility available with some tools can let you, for instance, appear talking in front of a video of whatever you are teaching about.
I’m trying out different methods such as using green screens for teaching and learning when we are not able to teach as normal in classrooms. Here is part of a video I have created which will hopefully keep the Higher pupils more engaged with learning @HwbSt@StMungosFalkirkpic.twitter.com/sd3blAq1uM
The online tool unscreen.com provides the means to remove the background automatically from a video so that you can combine with another image or video and quickly create a greenscreen effect, without the need for any other equipment.
Stop-motion animation videos can be useful to illustrate a teaching point where you have a series of still images. This can be useful where live action of a sequence of events is difficult to capture on video, or may take too long, or where you only have access to still images. You can create a sequence of still images using presentation software like PowerPoint (and export as a video to create the illusion of animation/movement) or drop them into video editing software/app such as iMovie on an iPad. Or you can use stop-motion software/app such as the iPad app Stikbot.
How did you get on with the maths task yesterday? Can you measure a short distance and try to work out the speed of a toy car or paper aeroplane, time how long it takes to travel that distance and calculate the speed. Here’s an example my kids helped me make #antomathspic.twitter.com/w5T4AT0c61
There’s a host of video editing tools available. Chance are the device you have available has likely got something already there ready for you to use.
For Windows laptops/PCs then built into Windows 10 devices you will find Video editor (which replaced Windows Movie Maker, with which many teacher may already be familiar, from previous versions of Windows).
Did you know that there is a free video editing tool built right into Windows 10? Click the start button and type "Video Editor"
Great for creativity during #remotelearning. Think of it as "NextGen Movie Maker"
Apple Clips is a neat free video-creation app for iPad or iPhone. It lets you quickly combine text, music, graphics, recorded voice, images, and animations to create videos with ease. So if you are trying to find a way to explain a topic or a teaching point then you might find Apple Clips a handy way to create a visually engaging video. The inclusion of inbuilt graphics such as arrows, finger pointers and many more adaptable images make this really easy to highlight parts of photographs or video clips with explanatory text or spoken voice.
Sharing your video
You have many choices when deciding how to share you video. What platforms you have available to you for your school may determine the choice you make.
The following are just some of the ways you might share your video creations:
Using a school YouTube account – this option will let you share the link to the video in different places as well as provide an option to embed elsewhere such as a website or Sway. Depending on who you want to be able to access the video you can choose to have the video “unlisted” – that means only those who have the link can access it. It won’t be searchable and won’t appear on the list of videos on the YouTube channel.
Upload to your Microsoft OneDrive (available to all Glow users) and at the share option choose either to make it “share with anyone” (which means anyone with the link will be able to access and will not require to log into anything – and you can optionally choose to set a password and decide to block download) or you can choose “only my organisation” (which for Glow users means in order to access the link the viewer would require to log into Glow) – ensuring the share link is set to view-only, not edit.
Upload to Microsoft Sway (add a media card in a Sway and choose the video option and you can upload the video) – at the share option in your Sway you can choose to have it available to be viewed by anyone with the link, or only the organisation (Glow) and optionally add password if you wish. Having your video added to a Sway means you then also have the option to add text about the video and to add pictures related to it.
Upload to files in Microsoft Teams for your class or group – sometimes uploading larger files can be faster if you go to Files in your class in Microsoft Teams and then at the top right choose “Open in Sharepoint” then navigate to the folder “Class materials” which is read-only so that your class can view but not inadvertently remove the file.
Sharing video content with learners can be tricky for a number of reasons – first, the files are often so big that they take up a lot of storage on your online learning platform (website/app/teams etc). Moreover, if you are staring a recording of you reading a story, there are copyright issues that may affect it. Also, you just might not want your video visible to the whole world.
The below video tutorial looks at the best way of hosting your videos privately and posing them to a specified group of people (e.g. your class)
I really hope it’s helpful.
I am starting to build and grow my YouTube channel with more regular content and would really appreciate a subscribe on the channel. If you could ‘like’ any videos that you find helpful, it will help me tailor my videos to things that will help you.
The media really is giving teachers a bashing just now during the COVID-19 lockdown, with many outlets saying that we are not doing anything. I know that’s not true. The amount of incredible online content and learning experiences that are being produced on a daily basis is incredible, and teachers have really risen to the challenge of keeping learners engaged online.
One way that can make this more simple and engaging for children is to use the free quiz app, Kahoot, to play quiizes and assign challenges for your learners – and the best thing is, you can share these quizzes on ANY platform that you are using to share learning – be it a school website, app, Microsoft Teams, Google Classrooms, Zoom etc. However you are engaging your learners, Kahoot is free and readily available.
Here is a short video tutorial about how to get the most out of Kahoot and really engage your learners.
Take care and stay safe
Please do get in touch via Twitter if there are any tutorials that you’d ‘d like me to create or questions that I may be able to answer.
STEAM Sunday is here! Each week during lockdown, I will be posting a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Maths) challenge on Twitter with a solution video the following Saturday.
I’d love you to get involved in these challenges – adults and children alike – and send me your efforts on Twitter to @mrfeistsclass using the hashtag #STEAMSunday for a chance to be featured in the solution video.
Week 1 – The Magic Triangles
This week is a maths problem-solving challenge. Check it out:
A huge thank you to everyone who took part in last week’s #STEAMSunday challenge. Here’s the solution. Tomorrow’s Easter Sunday video will be one of my favourites and combines Science (S) and Music (A) – so please do check it out and have a go. Great fun for the whole family pic.twitter.com/5ys7WfmNpQ
Glow is a really powerful platform for connected learning, however we still often don’t engage as well as we could – I myself am guilty of that.
With COVID-19, suddenly we have been forced to reconsider everything we know about delivering learning experiences and are turning to online platforms.
Many schools are considering using Teams (who aren’t already) after the holidays, but not all staff and pupils feel confident in using it. I have, therefore, created tutorial videos for teachers and pupils on Twitter, and will share below so that they are all in one place.
Please take care and stay safe.
You will need a glow account in order to do this.
Sign into Glow at glow.rmunify.com and follow the below tutorial to add ‘Microsoft Teams’ to your launchpad, find your class’ login details (you will need to find a way to send these out to pupils) and set up your team.
The video also shows some of the features of Teams that you will be able to use to support children with their learning.
With lots of schools looking to use @MicrosoftTeams through @GlowScot after the holidays, I have put together a short ‘how to’ video for teachers. I will do the same for pupils and add to my blog. Really hope it helps; please share with any school looking to use it next term. pic.twitter.com/AJCLzQvNbU
When changing passwords for the children, I would recommend using one password for everyone and ticking the box which allows them to change their password. This is an excellent way to start a conversation about the importance of keeping passwords safe and secure.
If you forget to tick the box allowing pupils to change their password, don’t worry as I will cover how pupils can change their own password in my tutorial for them.
The official Glow quick-start guide can be found here
If any of your pupils do not have a Glow account, this needs to be set up on SEEMIS Click and Go. Your school admin or SLT should be able to do this.
**still in development, more content coming soon**
Free resource at the bottom of the blog post (but lots of info about it in the post, so still worth a read!) I had hoped to complete all 50 cards before publishing, but with lots on at school and in my ‘other’ life, I’ve taken a slight pause on making the next 26!
I set out to make reading cards, as I am always disappointed by the range of ‘non-babyish’ materials that are available to children who struggle with reading, or with engaging in reading. However, I also feel passionately that continually having ‘different’ resources to work on in the class from peers can have an equal off-putting effect. I’ve been reading a lot recently on effective differentiation, and so wanted to think about how a resource would be accessible enough to engage readers who struggle for all sorts of reasons, but provide enough challenge to push higher achieving children. Effective questioning seemed to always be the solution. Each resource uses HOTS questions to provide challenge accessible to all. Having tested these resources in class with a range of learners, and from tester feedback, it has been interesting to note that there was a real equity amongst the majority of learners. Children who often struggle with reading were able to attempt (and sometimes even overtook) other learners in the class. I did support in reading through the text with some children, but then let them attempt the questions independently. I would especially like feedback on how effective this is in your class – do the texts work for the whole class? What can I improve on and do better in the next 25?
For all of the cards, I have used the font Open Dyslexic, as, whilst it doesn’t help with comprehension, it does support learners (like me) for whom letters do sometimes enjoy mixing themselves up on the page – it won’t make a huge difference, but even the slightest change is a positive in my mind. You can download the font for free here.
How the cards work
Truthfully, this is up to you. I have not provided an answer sheet as many of the questions require a personal or creative response – but also, I think the power and challenge of the cards are the discussions that you and your learners can have. Additionally, context and additional information are sometimes available in the questions rather than just the text (sometimes I have omitted any reference to child gender in the text, but have noted it in the cards). This should provide opportunities for developed questions such as ‘ is this child a boy/girl’, can you find evidence in the text to support this (and hopefully, this can bring up discussions about gender bias also). I also would hope that children can use them to make their own HOTS questions.
There is an info card about HOTS questions in case you are not familiar with them. Interesting to note, some of my children questioned why the ‘what is ‘it” question in card 2 is a remembering – I had it as such because I felt the picture was part of the text – but one child said they thought it should be applying as they had to apply all of the context clues to visualise the monster (I’ve paraphrased here, clearly, as I can’t remember her exact words; but I was very impressed by the challenge of her thought) – hopefully this can be something that learners will start to develop and challenge ‘why’ questions are categorised as a way of developing their own thinking.
There are many people to thank for their support in making these. Firstly, to @STPBooks for providing two of the texts and images used in the cards. Secondly, I am poor at proof-reading my own work (as you may be able to tell from my blog post…) so, I am very grateful to @KarenDScotland, @vasilionka_lisa,@lovepookiecat, @ScullionGreg, @mamamialia and @LynnRichmond20, for proof-reading for me and for your incredibly detailed feedback: some were pages long and I so appreciate the time that you spent reading through them to help me.
Due to the size of the PDF, I have had to split these into separate cards – sorry, I know it’s a pain!
It’s been quite some time since my last post – my BIG STEAM Escape Room which has had an amazing response; thank you.
I have been continuing to develop resources, but with a much greater focus on reading. If you follow me on Twitter you will know that I am currently making a reading resource for struggling readers. You can find out more about it here.
Today though, I have created a before, during and after visual aid for classrooms as I find the ones that are currently online lack clarity for children and often don’t have question prompts to help them use the strategy. I have made these for my own classroom, but there’s no point in me keeping it to myself.
They have not been proof-read by anyone, so if you do spot any errors, please feel free to give me a heads up – you can DM me on Twitter – and I will update the resource. Similarly, if you think I missed out something or could have done one of the posters better, again please let me know via DM.
Hope it’s helpful. You can download the PDF of each poster below.