Guest Post: Reflections on video presentation

Guest post

Today, we welcome Anne Marie Greenhill, from the Academic Skills Unit, who’s sharing her experience of recording videos for students. Anne Marie is the Academic and Digital Literacies Officer – and works closely with students from a range of different courses. 

Getting going with Video presentations

Recently I read a meeting chat discussing staff who feel vulnerable and lonely in this new learning and teaching environment and their apprehension about using technology to deliver their teaching. Many staff are trying to work out how to make this shift and still maintain best practice in their teaching.  I could totally understand where they were coming from and decided to share my experiences into the world of videos for online teaching with you.

I have a lifetime aversion to having my photograph taken, hearing my recorded voice or even worse, both in video format. Staff cards and passport photos always pose another set of issues and that’s why my staff card is over 20 years old (and fading wonderfully I might add) and I still have a paper driving licence. Before you all shout it’s illegal, it’s not. I still have the same name, live at the same address and have no convictions on it. Maybe that’s why we haven’t moved house in over 30 years – to avoid me having to get a new picture licence!

I’m aware this is a personal phobia and one that I’ve largely managed to get away with since I was a very small child. However, during this pandemic I have been forced to communicate with family, friends, colleagues and others on Teams, Zoom and Collaborate; which has been torturous at times! I have always empathised with students who find it difficult to deliver a presentation and tried to give them reassurance and all the usual good advice, but I’m also very aware that for some people it can  be much more than just being out of their comfort zone. ‘Be brave – get out of your comfort zone’ is always good advice but it always seems to be the confident people who are telling you this!!! I use ‘seems’ as I know that not everyone who you think is confident is as sure of themselves as they might appear to be.

So, I just wanted to share with some of you who might be less than confident in this new way of teaching that if I can make steps forward so can you. I’m normally more than happy to share ideas or put together things for colleagues to use in their teaching but have managed to stay in the recorded visual and vocal background or better still, anonymous. However, I have now created and recorded a video for an online class and I’m working on a follow up one. And you know what? It actually does get easier! Yay, progress!

Reflecting on how I have got to this stage I have come up with the following thoughts:

  • Understanding the need behind having to do these things was a key driver and the thought that if video is the best route then I just had to get on with it, my discomfort is second to the students not getting the best experience because of things outwith our control.
  • Realising that we are all in the same boat and it’s okay to just do ‘good enough’ for now and then improve for later also encouraged me to have a go – things don’t have to be absolutely perfect right now while we are all still adapting to this way of working. There’s a lot worse out there!
  • Fantastic support from colleagues who shared the ‘how to do things’ and would provide proper not-sugar coated feedback was invaluable in boosting my confidence.
  • Sharing thoughts with colleagues across the University and wider sector helps to build the sense of community that we’ve all been talking about but in a real and practical way.
  • Also, being able to share how to do something with colleagues who seem to know how to do everything but don’t know how to do something I figured out on my own is very encouraging.
  • Understanding the processes and the technology better was also important. If you know how to use something it gives you more confidence to create with it. The University Guides and other resources are great for supporting staff.

You’ve probably heard techie people saying something along the lines of, “Just use x tool and upload it to Y.” and give a perfect demonstration of how to do this. It all seems very simple and straight forward. Until you try to do it yourself. Then the browser doesn’t play ball, the instructions you find don’t match what you see on the screen and yes, you know all the etcetera’s.

Once I had ironed out all the foibles, I do have to confess that like everything else it does get easier with practice and frequency. The hardest bit is getting started and all the other clichés.

So where have I got to?  I know there are lots of ways to do this but I’m finding the most straightforward way to create videos is to use PowerPoint for slides and the Notes option to add my ‘script’. This then doubles up as an alternative format option – bonus!

I made sure the PowerPoint was in its final version before attempting to record but still had to make some edits once I replayed it. The good news is that edits are very easy to do and so is removing the audio for any particular slide. I did re-use slides that had animations but I found it was easier to record if I just duplicated the slides and simulated transitions by removing parts and meant I didn’t have to think about talking to the speed of the animations. I was worried that the mouse ‘click’ would be audible, but it wasn’t and using the rolling function on the mouse was even better. PowerPoint also allows you to pause the recording which gives you time to turn a page or just gather your thoughts.

Once completed and you’re happy(ish) with the result you save as a video (MP4) in PowerPoint then upload to Yuja. There are some excellent UoD Guides on using Yuja and yes, to repeat myself it does get easier the more familiar you become with it. If you need support ask a colleague to share screens with you on Teams and work through the process together.

The worst bit for me was that in all conscience I had to put myself in the position of the student. I really like when I can see the person who is talking to me, as most of us probably do. My concession was to include myself in the introduction on the first slide only, that was just about bearable!

Well, that’s where I’ve got to with my phobias – I have to go get that second video completed now. Give it a go!

3 thoughts on “Guest Post: Reflections on video presentation

  1. As Anne-Marie’s colleague, I can confirm that her videos are more than ‘good enough’ – they are bloomin’ great! 🙂

  2. Anne-Marie thanks so much for sharing this. I think in the current situation we’re all having to deal with a range of vulnerabilities that either have been their under wraps for a long time or have emerged due to fears and uncertainties about how blended learning is going to pan out and whether we’ll get to grips with the technology. Super to read how you’ve got started creating your first videos and overcome your phobia.

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