This week’s DigiKnow post looks at recording online teaching materials, and will detail the recording methods and systems which can be used within Queen’s University and beyond. This touches on Cognitive Load and Multimedia Principles of learning, when designing teaching materials for online use. Using these concepts, DigiKnow will detail several recording tools over the next few weeks.

Please do refer to last week’s post on Preparing Teaching: September 2020, where you can use coloured post-its to map out either a lesson or a full course.

Let’s look first at why it’s important to record materials for student learning, how we learn and look at some multimedia principles of learning for online delivery.

Why record materials?

This is a question I get quite often. As an E-learning Developer, the immediate benefit is that the materials can be re-used for several teaching cycles/years. While it takes time to make a recording, re-usable teaching objects can save time in the long-run. It comes down to planning.

Whether materials are recorded synchronously (live teaching) or asynchronously (demonstration), students can view and re-view the materials as required to construct knowledge. Materials are not just for teaching, but also revision/retention aids.

However, in line with GDPR, it is advisable that recordings of live teaching should only be used and stored for that particular cohort of students, where students may be identifiable (i.e., through recording of voice / personal information or visually on screen). These particular live recordings cannot be re-used with other/future student cohorts.

Video as a teaching tool allows students to self-pace their learning and increases their success of learning, whilst encouraging independent learning.

Pre-recorded teaching can be 60% to 80% shorter than traditional classroom-taught sessions. By freeing up time, this time can be used to engage students learning with other activities.

Needless to say, all learners can avail of digital technologies and play back videos at different speeds, access transcripts or subtitles and annotate slides if available. Transcripts can be translated to other languages via Google Translate, Linguee, iTranslate, The Free Dictionary, etc.

Studies show that video is a highly effective teaching tool, assisting learners’ cognitive load. Cognitive Load Theory suggests memory is made up of sensory, short-term, working and long-term memories. These memories are used in learning along with multimedia principles, as we can see below.

The memories

The sensory memory gathers environmental information received via the senses (sight, hearing, etc.). Most sensory information is disregarded, but if perceived, information enters short-term memory, followed by working memory.

Working memory (where thinking and information processing occur) is a memory with limited capacity. Learners must select the important information from short-term memory (using attention) before the information is encoded and stored in long-term memory (knowledge construction).

Attention can be described as the process of concentrating on something whilst ignoring everything else. Attentions can be selective, divided, sustained or executive. Gaining and maintaining attention in learning is crucial when planning and creating educational videos and other materials.

How do we learn with multimedia?

Coming back to sensory memory and specifically the senses. As humans, we use the visual and auditory senses (or channels) to make sense of the world. These two senses are primarily used for learning.

Multimedia can be described as using more than one method of communication, i.e., text plus image. Text can be verbal or written. Imagery can be photos, graphs, info-graphics, etc.

By using more than one method or channel of communication (visual / audio), i.e., dual channel, this maximizes working memory capacity leading to meaningful learning.

When viewing videos, students can hear and/or see the content. Following the multimedia principles of learning makes teaching materials more effective and follows best practices when making teaching content.

Multimedia principles

When creating teaching materials, it is advisable to use the following multimedia principles (R Mayer):

  • Personalisation Principle: be conversational in tone rather than formal. More formal conversation in live recordings is fine as you’re encouraging engagement through questions and activity. However, for demonstrations, be more conversational. This principle also encourages a visual (or agent) of the teacher (either picture or webcam). Students seeing the teacher on screen makes it more personal learning and provides a level of support.
  • Voice Principle: when recording, you will be capturing your voice. People learn better and prefer human voices for narration rather than machine generated voices.
  • Signalling Principle: highlight the important information on screen, i.e., bold text or use arrows on imagery.
  • Redundancy principle: avoid masses of text on slides and just reading from the screen. Realistically, use minimal text and narrate around the topic, otherwise, verbalising the text makes the on-screen text redundant.
  • Modality Principle: for example, if talking about a diagram, show the diagram at the same time as speaking about it. Keep the speech/text close to the image in terms of proximity. People learn from words (i.e., text / speech) and images (i.e., picture, graph, video) better than from words alone.
  • Coherence Principle: avoid extraneous content and exclude all non-essential information / decorative visuals. These distract and add nothing to the student learning experience.
  • Segmenting Principle: learning should be created in bite-sized chunks. Don’t overcrowd slides with masses of information when it can be spread out over several slides, which creates a chunk of learning.

The slide below is an example of minimal text and imagery which is relevant to the topic, and it uses the following principles: Personalisation, Voice, Redundancy, Modality and Coherence.

The narrator would speak more around each of the points on screen in a conversational manner. In terms of accessibility, it’s a plain slide, which in itself is non-distracting but helpful, in terms of the font type and size used, and contrast of text against the background. Slides can be provided in PDF format and made available prior to teaching. This is helpful if students want to annotate slides during the lesson for their own learning.

Slide demonstrating Multimedia Principles: plain text on a blank backbround, including a heading, four concise bullet points and a photograph related to the subject.
Slide demonstrating Multimedia Principles

Here are some hints and tips to help ensure a smooth recording delivery.

  • Keep it short (asynchronous). The average attention span of HE students is between 10 and 15 minutes. Whilst live lectures are 60 to 90 minutes duration, with engagement interspersed, with longer recordings, student attention decreases. Aim for no more than 20 minutes for pre-recorded asynchronous materials.
  • Cover the learning outcomes: show these at the start and end of the presentation.
  • Follow the Multimedia Principles.
  • Prepare and practice.

When creating slides, for assistance, have a read at Design and Best Practice and Adding Media Content. Follow best practice and accessibility guidelines to widen audience reach.

Recording a lecture (PowerPoint 2016)

Please download this helpful guide for recording in PowerPoint 2016 and Streaming in O365. This is a ten-page guide using existing software and systems in Queen’s.

By following this guide, content will remain secure and available to the relevant students on relevant courses of study.

Next Week

DigiKnow will be covering how to record and host using Mediasite as a capture and delivery tool.

Do join us then and don’t forget to follow us on twitter: @MDBSelearn.


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