More than a year ago I first mentioned my experiment using YouTube in my online courses. At the time I said it seemed promising, and the passage of time has seen the promise fulfilled. Students listen, watch and in the end of term comments note they like this. The invisible professor becomes a real person.
This may seem odd, but the internet can be a very impersonal space. You can see words, and pictures, and sound and often videos. But not a person. Many years ago I asked about videos in online courses – perhaps as long ago as 2004 when my first was designed. I was told this would require booking studio space, and a full recording session. At the time this seemed artificial. Instructors teaching in the traditional manner do not get to do weeks of rehearsals for each class, then a dress rehearsal and finally you go ‘on stage and perform’.
This was not the main reason I chose to use YouTube. I did so because I could do it quickly, using my own laptop and without a lot of preparation. In the past, when speaking in front of a class, I would do research and make notes to jog my memory while talking, but they got the real me in the presentation. I wanted at least that for online instruction.
So….. once a week (ideally) I jot down some notes, turn on my Mac Photo Booth app, record a video of me talking in my normal and informal tone, glancing at my notes (and I don’t hide the fact I am looking at notes), then save that. I run it to make sure I don’t have food in my beard, or something worse out of place and that I made some kind of sense. Usually this is the case. Then I drag the clip onto my desktop, open my YouTube account and upload the video there. I try to keep the clip no longer than 10 minutes and usually in the 5-7 minute range. This ensures the download isn’t too large for most computers, and also will hold the attention of any viewer.
Once the YouTube clip is ready, I upload the link to my course site. Usually I also type what I said in the video for those who prefer reading over watching.
In terms of content, I do videos to introduce a new module in the course, or new content within a module or to say something about grades in general for a just returned assignment – or of course, as a course introduction and the final remarks at the end of term.
I don’t plan to limit how or when I will used YouTube uploads as I like to keep a degree of flexibility, but these are the usual places I use YouTube.