Posted by Mark Hine at 4:42PM
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Podcasts are, more often than not, associated with audio or sound. The vodcast, or video podcast, can be an excellent tool for capturing classroom interactions and extending the reach of your teaching.
The first task, however, is to ask oneself - do I really need video? Sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes the answer is a qualified yes. Keep in mind that video is ideal for capturing interactions. Not the interaction of an instructor speaking to a class necessarily, but the Q & A. The part of class that is generated spontaneously. The part of the interaction that leads the topic in a new direction or further refines content in a language and a voice that a student helps to generate. This fact alone does not warrant video recording a class however. Think about a TV show. Any TV show. How many individuals are in a particular shot at once? On average by my rough calculations (crowd shots aside), less than three. What shot is the most impactful? The close-up.
Which then is more effective - capturing the sights and sounds of a large lecture hall or capturing a more intimate conversation? Trying to capture the entire room does two things: first, it makes everyone the size of an ant; second, it fills the frame with superfluous academic yellow walls. Focus on the audience by speaking to the audience. There are many examples of highly talented faculty teaching to a class of thirty or more students with the camera focused on the entire class. It's distracting and not very aesthetically pleasing. Zero in on the content and the speaker. A medium shot (head to waist) is much more effective and pleasing to the eye than a blurry wide shot. Capturing small group interactions, student presentations and recording a more personal one-on-one interaction are effective ways to use video.
The above applies specifically to smaller hand-held video recording devices -like the Flip. These cameras have limited audio sensitivity, depth-of-field and zoom capabilities. Placing the camera closer to the subject increases audio recording quality. Filling the frame (viewfinder) with the subject and keeping headroom (space above the subjects head) to a minimum result in a better recording.
A final piece of advice - break video podcasts up by sub-topic. Posting an hour long podcast discourages the user from downloading the large files that result.