Pre-Recorded Lecture Guide

Learning and Teaching @ UNSW

Pre-recorded lectures can benefit both staff and students. Teachers can use them to re-organise teaching time and rethink content delivery. Students can play back the lectures and work through the slides at their own pace, which is particularly useful in the case of complex courses.

See below on this page:


Considerations

These considerations apply to digital resources in general, not specifically to pre-recorded lectures.

Compatibility

Compatibility is a major concern whenever you’re distributing digital resources to a cohort. Do students require a certain type of computer or level of operating system to consume the content? Do they need specific software to access it, and is this software available on multiple platforms? Does this software carry a cost, or is a free alternative available?

Accessibility

What about students with disabilities? What about students with different inherent learning styles? Making content accessible can involve extra work, and you should explicitly include it in your digital resource strategy.

Flexibility

Just about everyone has an internet connection and a mobile device nowadays, and students increasingly want to be able to consume media when and in a form they choose themselves. Does the file only work on desktop computers, or can mobile devices access the content as well? Does the resource (e.g. streaming video) require internet access, or can it be saved to a device so that a student can consume it when they move into a space without internet coverage?

Copyright

Is any material in the presentation owned by others? Does the PowerPoint contain images that have been taken from the internet? Have you used music that is covered by copyright? Be aware of, and plan for use of, copyrighted material, to avoid problems down the track. Further information on copyright is available on the UNSW Library's copyright website.

The British Universities Film & Video Council have published these Audiovisual Citation Guidelines to encourage best practice when citing audiovisual materials.


Recording options

Screen recording software

Blackboard Collaborate

You can use Blackboard Collaborate to pre-record class lectures or other course materials such as a course overview or welcome video for online classes. Pre-recording presentations using Blackboard Collaborate is particularly useful when recording audio with presentation slides.

The following page contains instructions on how to pre-record a presentation using Blackboard Collaborate.

Other options

Commercial screen recording software such as Screenflow (Mac) or Camtasia (Mac or PC) is relatively cheap and easy to use. You'll need an input device for audio (and video if desired); a standard webcam attached to the recording computer will do. Many computers and laptops (e.g. iMac or any Mac laptop) now have this functionality built in.

With screen recording software, you can click through your PowerPoint from start to finish, speaking to each slide, while the software records both your voice (including video if desired) and the timing of the slide changes. This allows for recording of the presentation in one go and in real time, capturing all the animation, embedded videos, transitions and so on that would be shown during a live presentation. It also lets you switch to web pages or other applications as part of the lecture.

You can also use screen recording software in combination with an annotated PowerPoint file to convert the individually annotated PowerPoint to a single video.

You can also perform screen recording on a Mac with the built-in Quicktime Player. Although it does not record both screen and camera input synchronously, it is still a viable option for PowerPoint and voice only (no video).

PowerPoint

At the simplest level, you can create a narrated presentation with nothing more complex than PowerPoint software and a microphone (built-in or otherwise).

  1. Open your presentation.
  2. On the first slide that requires audio, from the menu bar select Insert > Audio/Sound.
  3. In the Record Sound window, if given the option:
    • Select your input device from the Sound input device drop-down list.
    • Select your input source from the Input source drop-down list.
  4. When you are ready to record, click Record (red button) and begin speaking. Click Stop when finished.
  5. Repeat steps 2 to 4 for each slide that requires audio.
  6. After recording, each audio-enhanced slide displays an audio icon, which a user clicks to hear the audio.

When you use this method, you cannot synchronise the audio with each build within a slide (e.g. bullet points fading in one by one), and you have little to no control of audio compression, format and file size, depending on the version of PowerPoint you use. This can lead to complexity with delivery and accessibility.

Delivery options

Video file

Screen recording software generates a compressed video file described in three ways:

  • container format e.g. MP4, MOV, WMV, AVI and FLV
  • video compression format e.g H.264 (most commonly used and recommended), MPEG-4
  • audio compression format e.g MP3 and ACC; both are efficient, with ACC usually preferred for delivery

Once you've decided on a format, you can determine compression and frame size. It's a good idea to compress several versions of each video for different uses. High quality full HD versions (e.g. 1GB for 1hour) are recommended for uploading to theBox or YouTube. Smaller versions (e.g. 50–200MB for 1 hour) are also desirable for downloading and viewing offline.

Handbrake is free compression software available for both Macs and PCs. Compressor for Macs and Episode for Windows are licensed options.

Screenflow and Camtasia used for screen capture both have built in compression software.

PDF with mp3 and/or transcription

We recommend distributing a PDF of the slides and an MP3 audio file of the narration as backups for the options listed above. Consider including a text transcription of the audio for maximum accessibility.

PowerPoint file

An annotated PowerPoint file itself can be used for delivery saved in one of two formats:

  1. a .pptx file, which includes all audio and the slideshow but allows viewers to edit content. Access to this format requires a licensed version of PowerPoint.
  2. a .ppsx file, which can be accessed on a free PowerPoint player available from Microsoft

Considerations:

  • As there are many different versions of PowerPoint still in use, we recommend further compatibility testing (especially on PC and Mac) .
  • It's hard to manage audio compression settings with PowerPoint; this often results in very large files.

Choice of distribution

Downloadable file

Pre-recorded lecture files can be hosted in Moodle or any other download server with or without authentication. If the content is not restricted iTunesU is another distribution option for video, audio and PDF files, but not for .pptx.

We strongly recommend that you provide students with guidelines on sharing content, as they can republish and share content once they have downloaded it.

Streaming video

Public platforms like YouTube, and restricted platforms like theBox, allow for streaming delivery of video content.

With true streaming delivery (as used by theBox), the video data is only downloaded in chunks as it is being played. This allows for the best security possible, as the whole file does not reside on the user's computer. But with true streaming, users with a slow internet connection cannot view the content at high quality, as the connection cannot keep up with the chunks. This usually results in a re-buffering interruption to video playback every 10 seconds, which is undesirable. For this reason, theBox also offers a low quality streaming version for slow internet connections.

With pseudo-streaming services (also known as progressive download) such as YouTube, the file continues to download in full even when the video is not playing. This entails a lower level of security than true streaming.

Offline delivery

If all else fails, or where an internet connection is not viable, burning the files to a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM is an easy option. Also, with the cheap availability of flash drives (thumb drives), this is an easy way to ensure your content reaches the student, wherever they are.


Additional resources

Further assistance

If you experience technical or other issues, consult the Where to get help page.