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Get Up To Speed with OER

This is a self-paced tutorial for faculty and staff to learn about Open Educational Resources - what they are, how to find and evaluate them, how to adapt and create them, and how to handle the copyright and technical implications.

Creating Video OER

Creating Video OER

Video gives the instructor the opportunity to show as well as tell:

  • Displaying art for analysis, criticism, and commentary, or showing movie, TV, or recorded theatrical clips for analysis, criticism, and commentary. These will probably require that you get copyright permission.
  • Showing a recording of a real world event, such as animal behavior, construction of a bridge, or the eruption of a geyser
  • Animation of a process, mechanism, or event that can't be recorded directly, such as the Kreb's Cycle, the life cycle of a star, the inner workings of a lock, or a model of supply chain economics. This is especially useful for visualizing mathematical concepts.
  • Narrating a slideshow to walk learners through complicated procedures and processes
  • Screencasting and narrating a demonstration of a computer skill
  • Video-captured interviews. These will require that you get copyright and privacy permission.
  • Video-captured lectures - use with care. Simply moving a lecture online is ineffective compared to redesigning the instruction to take advantage of the online environment. 

Keep videos short - between 1 and 12 minutes. If you have a lot of content, it is better to break it up at topic transitions where it makes sense. Be sure to number them, title them informatively, and briefly provide context so that each video can stand on its own!

Tools for Creating Video OER

Applications for creating screencasts and narrated slideshows

To create screencasts and narrated slideshows, you will need a microphone (learn more in the Creating Audio section) and a screencast application.

Here's one:

Devices and applications for creating animations

Creating animations requires specialized expertise, so you will need to bring in and pay for someone with that skill set and who has the right tools. Have them use an Open Source application - drawing tablets like the Wacom Intuos Pro will work with Blender and Pencil 2d

Devices and applications for video capture

To capture lectures and interviews, you will need at least one video camera and microphone. On the small scale, your smartphone could work. For high production values, you will need to bring in someone with the right equipment and expertise. 

If you are looking for the middle ground, you can obtain some equipment and record yourself. 

  • Live lecture capture is best done with a set of room mics of a particular kind, which are extremely expensive. A more affordable alternative is to wirelessly body mic the lecturer, as long as the goal is not to capture the whole classroom interaction. 
  • Interview and panel discussion capture requires wireless body mics on all participants. Do not try to use table mics! Background noise and varying distances between speakers and mics make for bad sound quality. 
  • Lecture capture requires one camera aimed at the speaker, and possibly other cameras to track the audience.  Interview capture requires one camera aimed at both speakers, and possibly other cameras zoomed in on individual speakers or tracking the audience. Cameras should be on a tripod and able to pan and tilt if they are going to follow a person around the room. 

If you are speaking at your desk a HD web cam, ideally one with motion tracking, will be fine. Many of them come with decent built in microphones, or if you prefer not to take chances, you can use a Blue Snowball. As always, you will need to adjust the position, lighting, background noise, and the device settings. Editing after the fact can't substitute for clean, clear source material.

Software for editing separate raw audio and video materials into a finished video:

Accessibility and Usability for Video OER

High quality, high definition image and sound are crucial to the usability of video OER. 

For accessibility purposes, you also have to provide closed captions of all verbal content and audio description of video content. 

Closed Captions for video OER

All videos, without exception, should be closed captioned. Closed captions differ from subtitles (or "hard captions") and are superior to them, because they can be turned off. 

It is easiest to add your captions if you've spoken from a script, because you can copy and paste your script rather than type as you hear. Closed captions should include not only what is being said, but any other information that is being conveyed through sound.

  • "Birds chirping" or better yet, "sparrows chirping"
  • "Man laughs" or better yet, "Charles laughs"
  • "Music plays" or better yet, "Mendelssohns Waltz plays"
  • "Ding" or better yet "kitchen timer goes off"

Closed captioning technical details

Closed captions can be encoded into the video in a number of formats, but many platforms now use the .srt format. Some important vocabulary:

  • Muxing - short for multiplexing. Combining layers of different kinds of data so that they overlay coherently and are sent/received as one signal. When you add closed captions, those are one of the data layers, so you are muxing.

Tool for creating subtitles:

Personally, I just upload my video to Learnscape and the platform generates automatic captions. You can't leave the automatic captions as is - proofread them! You can also do this in YouTube.

Audio description for video OER

Any information that is presented visually in a video also needs to be presented verbally. If there is content that was presented visually but not spoken out loud, then an additional layer of audio description must be added to the video for blind and low vision users. 

Technically speaking, audio description works the same way as a commentary track on a movie does. It's just another audio track laid over the main one, and the description takes place during the pauses in the main audio. (This is one reason why you shouldn't talk too fast!)

The easiest way to do this is to make sure that your video has verbal descriptions of all the visual content built in to begin with. 

The next best thing is to record your descriptions on a separate track and add it to the video file. Just like captions, you want Closed Audio Description, which means it can be turned off. 

Script your audio description track and record it with Audacity and export it as an mp3. Then import the mp3 into Blender and use that application's Video Sequence Editor to synchronize it as an additional audio track. 

Copyright and Privacy for Video OER

Whatever you create is fine to use, as is any material that you find under a compatible Creative Commons license.

However you may need to get permission to use recordings that you made of other people speaking or performing. This includes not only copyright permission, but also, in some cases, privacy releases.

  • Always get privacy releases from minors and from enrolled students (FERPA). 
  • Unless in a public setting where people have no expectation of privacy, ask before recording and give people the option to move out of shot before you start. 
  • Get copyright permission from everyone who speaks in an interview, classroom, or panel discussion. If they are students, get privacy releases too. 
  • Get copyright permission from any performer you record. (It is also better to ask before recording.) Many performance spaces prohibit recording. Don't try to get around the prohibition - they are likely to confiscate your equipment and ban you from coming back.
  • Consider the safety of the people you capture in your recording, including the possibility that someone might become the target of bullying, be abused by a partner or parent, or feel that their dignity and agency as a human being has been compromised. People can be unfairly fired from their jobs and expelled from their communities.