In the 21st century classroom, engagement is a word you hear often. From teachers to school admin and even government officials, they all want our students to be engaged. Teachers especially are looking for new ways to engage their students so that they can understand the content properly.
A look at the Activated Classroom Teaching (ACT) Digital Pedagogy, a research-based 21st-century taxonomy of digital pedagogy, pitches 5 levels of activity, that makes students engaged. These levels include Curation, Conversation, Correction, Creation and Chaos. Creation is key to engaging students. Whether it is the teacher who is creating content for the students or more preferably the students doing the creation, they are engaged at a high level.
Creation – Great for engaging students
When students are allowed to conceptualize, design & construct their understanding, they find it more engaging. Students should be allowed & encouraged to create content rather than simply consume what has been previously written by someone else. A student who creates an audio podcast, or even writes a review after reading several articles or like we’re looking at in this post, creates a video explaining a process is by far more engaged than another student who simply goes to Wikipedia, copies an article and pastes it in word and then submits it as an assignment!Allow your students to be CREATORS of content and not just consumers of it. This makes them Engaged! Click To Tweet
Having said this, it is important for teachers to model this pedagogy of creation to students. The more we as teachers create videos, the more our students will want to create videos as well. Fortunately, there are lots of free (or freemium) apps and tools available to make the process of creating simple.
Creating a Video!
Using your smartphone
I must begin by saying that almost anyone can create a video now by simply using his/her smartphone. Just a simple 2 or 3 mins selfie video explaining a process will be more engaging than a reading a page in the textbook. Even if this is used in a flipped classroom environment where the teacher creates this video ahead of the class and the students can watch this before coming to class. They already have some understanding before getting to class.
So, Charles Chukwu, one of the admins of the Tech-savvy teacher facebook group (and you should join this group) introduced to the group Kahoot, a free online EdTech tool that uses, gamification techniques to present multiple choice questions, thereby engaging students. He, therefore, challenged me to make a video showing how Kahoot can be used to assign homework to students.
The Video – Assign kahoot as homework
The Creation Process
I am therefore happy to share the creation process of the video above. I used Screencast-O-Matic, Mobizen, Articulate Replay and MS PowerPoint throughout the entire process. All software used is free except Articulate Replay.
There were two recordings in the video. The first was done on my laptop while the second was done on my smartphone. I originally used Jing to record on my laptop only to discover that it saves in .swf format and not mp4. After trying several ways to convert SWF to mp4 without any success, I decided to download Screencast-O-Matic. I used it to record my laptop screen and my face doing the narration. It has options of recording both the webcam and voice which is what I did. Once I was done recording, I exported the file to mp4 directly and saved the video on my system.
The second recording which I used to record my smartphone was done using the Mobizen android app. After trying several apps, I have come to settle with Mobizen for now for about a year. It records the screen, phone sound & narration. It even displays touch so you know what is being touched on the screen. It also records directly in mp4 format. I recorded the app and saved it to my phone, sent it through Bluetooth to my system.
First & Last Image
Microsoft PowerPoint (MS PPT) was used to design and create the images at the beginning and end of the video. Well, I don’t use Corel draw or photoshop, MS PPT (and publisher) is my only tool for all my designs!
Microsoft PowerPoint was used to join the four parts of the video together. Each part was placed on one slide each.
Slide 1 – Cover Image
Slide 2 – Video of laptop recording
Slide 3 – Video of smartphone recording
Slide 4 – End Image
After designing the different elements of the image, I grouped all elements together and saved it as a picture file on my system. Then I inserted it afresh as a picture on slides 1 & 4.
Change Slide dimension
First, I changed the default slide dimension from Widescreen (16:9) to Standard (4:3). This gave it more of a video shape than a slide shape. To do this, go to Design tab, under section Customize, change the “Slide Size” to Standard.
Insert Images & Videos
Next, I inserted the images & videos to 4 slides as explained above. To do this:
1. With MS PPT open, go to Insert
2. Under Images section, select Pictures. Under Media section, select Video.
3. Select the pictures you have saved and place them on slide 1 & 4
4. Select the videos you have saved and place them on slide 2 & 3.
Add transition effect
Next, I added the Reveal transition to slide 2, 3 & 4 to give it the transition effect from one section to the next. To do this,
1. Select slide 2.
2. Go to Transitions tab
3. Select Reveal (or any desired transition effect)
4. Repeat the same for slide 3 & 4.
Ensure Automatic transition
If I was just making a powerpoint presentation, I would not need this setting. But since I am saving it as a video and I need it to automatically proceed from slide to slide, I need to set some timings to determine how each slide will transition to the next. So the following settings were implemented:
Slide 1 & 4 – Under Timing, check the box “Advance slide after 10 seconds”. You can set the number of seconds as desired.
Slide 2 & 3 – Advance slide after 0 seconds. This makes the slide to move automatically after the video plays.
For slide 2 & 3 that contains the video, select the video and perform the following settings:
1. Under Video Tools, Select Playback tab.
2. Under Video Options, Select Automatically beside Start.
3. Repeat for all slides that contain videos.
This makes the videos to play automatically as soon as it transitions to the slide.
You can further design the slides as you wish. For example, I put a frame with the same color as the first & last slide around the video on slide 2. Since the video recording of the smartphone (on slide 3) is small (and I didn’t want to stretch it), I rather put the same background image on slide 1. This is just to create a general feel with the same color as one video!
Save-as a Video file – mp4
When you’re done with how you want the slides to look like, test it by previewing like a normal slideshow. If all works well, save it as a video file. To do this,
1. Click Save-As under File
2. Select “MPEG-4 Video (mp4)” under File type.
3. Click Save.
The video will be saved on your system. This may take time to save depending on the sizes of the videos on the slides. An additional setting is to “Compress videos” before saving as mp4. Right on the save as page, you’ll see “Compress Videos”.
Add Captions (Lower Thirds) to video
This is a very interesting feature that brings a further explanation to the video as it plays. It also provides an alternative way for those who have hearing disabilities. For this, Articulate Replay was used to include this. Articulate replay is a screen capturing tool that allows you to capture your screen in video (with or without webcam), add lower thirds, add images and present you with a timeline for mini-editing purposes. The following steps were followed to accomplish it:
1. With replay open, Under Home tab, Insert Video.
2. Select the video you exported from MS PPT.
3. Play the video by pressing the spacebar or Play under the video preview.
4. As the video progresses, pause it wherever you want to add a lower third caption.
5. Under Insert, click Lower Third.
6. On the panel to the right, fill details of Title and Description respectively.
7. Once done, Publish the work.
It will also be saved in mp4 format. Another advantage of A.Replay is that it greatly compressed my video without a (visible, if at all) loss of quality. The video I exported from Screencast-O-Matic was almost 70Mb. I actually had to pass it through A.Replay to reduce it to less than 15Mb before inserting into PPT. The exported video from PPT was also about the same 70Mb. However, the final video published from Articulate Replay, even after inserting the Lower Thirds was 13Mb.
For more info, check out Articulate Replay.
Upload to YouTube
The final stage was to upload to YouTube.
Creating videos is becoming easier these days as several tools are springing forth. From the simple smartphone to using basic PowerPoint software, to more advanced editing software, anyone can create a video. And if you’ve been wanting to create one, just give it a try, grab your phone and record yourself as you explain a concept you like so well. Take it a step further, open PowerPoint and open Screencast-O-Matic and record a few slides explaining a topic as well.
All the best creating and engaging your students!