The Lonely Lecture

Google Hangout Meet

Since schools closed due to COVID-19 in our area, I have been doing a lot of thinking about the creation of digital content for students. There are a couple of “new jobs” teachers are undertaking in the preparation of online materials. These are, I think:

  • teacher as curator, and
  • teacher as creator.

Often times for adults, when I have delivered a talk at a conference, I have found the slides I produce using slideware is not an adequate facsimile to the talk I deliver. Instead, I have used long form writing (such as a blog post or SlideDocs), or a video recording as the “handout.” And teachers are interested in the absence of adequate online resources to make their own.

However some of us know that the style of direct instruction from classroom experience that most closely resembles a college lecture does not often translate well into learning remotely. That’s not to say that direct instruction is bad or dead; it simply means we can come up with other ways to package this style of instruction. My first advice when designing videos of talking over slides is to keep the videos short (as a rule of thumb, let’s say seven minutes or less), to use strong visual imagery as much as possible in slides, and to infuse your personality into the videos. My second piece of advice is to keep the visual field of your video moving, so that students aren’t staring at the same image for minutes while you talk (or possibly drone on).

Please note that talking over slides is ideally not the best instruction, but the technology to talk over slides is relatively simple to create and for a lot of teachers, this is a great foray into beginning the creation of their own instructional videos—especially if they are already familiar with making slides in slideware applications such as PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Slides.

So how to we make this whole enterprise work best?

One tool we have used is Google Hangouts Meet. I am confident other schools using Google Apps for Education have likely tinkered with Google’s tool for video conferencing. And while it does a great job at that, it also works pretty well as a video presentation recording tool.

To get started, you’ll create your own room, and then once inside, share your presentation screen with the hangout. You’ll then be able to record your session directly into Google Drive, and your presentation will contain your slides (large format) and also your face (small format). This way you students get the shot of you plus the amazingly rich slides you’ve created to present your content.

When you’re done, stop the recording. Wait 10-15 minutes, and your recording will be waiting for you inside Google Drive.

You can then share this video directly with students. The file size for Google’s videos is superior, I’ve found, compared to making comparable videos of slideware and talking; in addition, this solution includes a video image of you.

While I still believe Telestream ScreenFlow is the superior choice in terms of features and the like, it is not inexpensive and requires a license for each teacher.

In the end, by delivering a “lonely lecture” by yourself using a tool such as Google Hangouts Meet, you can easily create your own video content using slideware or even through screencasting, and in the process, infuse some of your personality through gesture, facial expression, and your authentic voice for students to use as a learning medium during distance learning.