Direct Instruction Videos – What’s your Workflow?

I’ve written before about my experience recording my direct instruction into short, Udacity style videos and having students watch them during class. This enables me to circulate and have a lot more conversations with students as they are learning than when I’m talking at the front of the room. It also puts me in a position to see how my students are engaging with this material since I’m walking around and see what they are writing down, where they are stopping the videos, and can listen to their conversations. The quality of my interactions (and the student-to-student interactions) is so much higher with this approach.

The main obstacle to my doing this more, however, is the investment of time in creating the videos. With a consultant meeting with us this week and asking us to examine our technology practices, I’m wondering whether others have cracked the code and found ways to be efficient.

Most of my time is spent editing. I do one video at a time for each piece of what I want my students to watch before they try something on their own. I also want my videos to be short (ideally less than 3 minutes each), so I find I’m editing out spoken flubs, unclear descriptions, extra pauses, and time spent writing by hand to reach that ideal. Camtasia is my tool of choice. I know there are videos out there that I could assign rather than recording my own, but I’m convinced I can still work on my efficiency with some good advice.

I wonder if one of the following would work better:

  • Record all of the writing with no narration first. Add voiceover second to match the text.
  • Record all of the direct instruction for an entire class. Edit out flubs, writing, then split into multiple videos for a lesson.
  • Write out all of the written parts before recording. Cut and paste them in the video frame one by one as I speak on top of the video. Gesture and highlight as needed.

I’ve sacrificed perfection for getting my ratio of recording time to video time down to about four to one. That’s still a sizable investment of time, and it certainly benefits my students, but as is, I’m leaving the classroom after 5 PM pretty regularly.

Any experienced flipped classroom folks care to weigh in on this?

13 thoughts on “Direct Instruction Videos – What’s your Workflow?

  1. I’m at the other end of the spectrum. I use Jing that limits me to 5 minutes. I use OneNote as a blank canvas. I start with it blank, hit record, and go. Flubs, mistakes, crossing things out, the occasional pause while I rethink things, are all in there. I never edit. It’s fast, mistake-full, but authentic. Whenever I read posts from those who edit (or worse, in my opinion, write scripts) it’s not that I think they’re bad ideas, I just feel “ugh” and realize I wouldn’t want to put that effort in. In other words, I grab jing whenever the inspiration hits and just go with it. I wish I had students who experienced both ends of the spectrum so I could pick their brains a little.

    1. Hi Andy,

      I definitely let perfection be the enemy of the good. With all of the constraints I’ve already placed on myself, that editing part is probably the one that can be relaxed a bit.

      Thanks for the advice!

  2. I forgot to mention that I really think it’s cool the way you use your vids. Having one copy of yourself lecture while another goes around and interacts with the students is really a great use of these.

  3. I’m with Andy! I’m a one – take teacher. It’s sometimes messy and long. But that’s how we teach in front of them. We have no edit button when we do it live. I use QuickTime ‘s screen recording on my Mac. Then just send it directly to youtube. Fast and effective. It’s a one to one ratio!

    1. Hi Jon,

      You’re right about the perfection part – real instruction in front of students isn’t perfect. I wonder if my efforts to try to produce perfect videos is (1) wasted because my instruction isn’t as good as I think it is and (2) dishonest about the messiness of real learning.

      Useful insights – thank you!

  4. I took a two pronged-approach: for big ideas, main instructional pieces, project instructions, or lab directions, I always did a more “prepared” video which included editing. I knew they’d be used year after year without too much editing, so I put some time in up front.

    For everything else – topical videos, extensions, homework help, etc, I did really quick and dirty on-demand recordings. They helped that year, but may not come up again, so they disappeared after a while. It helped me really identify what I needed to teach and what students could explore on their own.

    To answer your question about writing the info out first, yes, I know people that do that with high success. They can take the time to write important info, so their handwriting is much better, and they can then focus on the speech second. It’s easy to speed the recording up in post (clip speed in Camtasia) to match the audio. I’d say give it a shot and see how you like it.

  5. I also record in one-take. I couldn’t do it if I had to edit to perfection. I put my examples, and notes on boards and then slide from one to another as I film. I took the FIZZ EDU training course and needing to created the videos for that certificate gave me a deadline to meet and started me on a good pace to finish the videos for the year. It was exhausting at times and I was barely ahead of my flipped class last year, sometimes recording during planning what they would watch that night. However, I’m reaping the benefits this year and have been able to go back and re-film (still in one-take) some of my beginning videos. They got shorter, with less extra talking, as the year progressed. My sixth graders do best with a 6-9 minute video and anything after that 6 minute mark had better be pretty interesting. 🙂

    I post to you-tube and if there is something that needs to be fixed, I will add a comment or block in a corrected title. I like that the students see me thinking about the problem and they like finding a way to do it faster!

    I love playing the video in my non-flipped classes and circulating the room, it really improves class behavior, with my back never to the class.

    And for my flipped class, I run the video through EdPuzzle, which allows me to embed questions and see what the students understand before class each day.

  6. Like others have said, I’m also a one-take teacher. I favor filming myself at my whiteboard cause the kids can see me gesturing like a fool. The interface between me and whiteboard is natural, so I don’t lose time writing on a less-intuitive tablet or iPad.

    Here’s an example I don’t hate: LOL at 4:28 when you can hear me drop a desk drawer full of stuff to get my calculator while video is rolling.

    My advice? Stop the editing. I don’t know that it’s best for the kids. Somehow our videos need to make them think. How can we find ways to encourage them to follow along with us? Maybe we should stop short of calculating solutions and forcing kids to look them up elsewhere.

    1. I think I’d better just take the advice you and the others are recommending. I’m sure those little extra bits make it that much more personal when students realize that it’s a human piecing the videos together. I really like the idea of saying ‘now you calculate this, kids’ rather than putting it all in there. Then the students are finishing our sentences in the video, and that makes it possible for us to see how students are engaging with the material there.

      Thanks, Megan!

  7. Evan,

    As a teacher who loved the flipped classroom and made my fair share of mistakes, I agree with the crowd saying to leave your videos raw. It’s what you do in class every day – raw. Having a nifty edit on a video makes you look better to the outside world, but that’s not who the videos are intended for.

    Camtasia is where it’s at – I love how easy it is to use!

    As long as the videos are less than ~5 minutes, you’re good. Anything more than that and you start to toe a scary line of turning a great tool into a bad practice, unless your kids are completely fine with longer videos.

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