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The E-coach Blog
By Alison Bickford on March 2, 2013
A well scripted and camera shot video is very powerful for distributing corporate messages and training staff on concepts and processes.
However, training budgets don’t always have the budget for high-end production videos. There are other cost-effective production options that can add value to training, as long as principles of tight scripting and visual interest are maintained.
Option 1: Video production using a smartphone camera or camcorder
Examples uses include vox-pops, monologues from experts, Q&A interviews and capturing repeatable skills and other manual processes. I have written about how I produce my YouTube video series in an earlier blog post; How I make my video podcasts.
Option 2: Video production using PowerPoint (PPT)
I use Camtasia Studio for PC. It’s purpose built software, easy to use, relatively inexpensive and well supported by the company, Techsmith. Camtasia can be used straight from a PPT ribbon add-in. The Notes section of the PPT can be imported as captions to support WGEA accessibility. The narration can be recorded at the same time as recording the PPT animation.
For a more polished outcome with better editing control, I tend to record the narration separately, and save each PPT slides as a JPG prior to producing the video. How I do this is outlined below.
Steps for producing a quality video using PPT and Camtasia
1. Decide the size of the video: This is important to do up front, as you need to set up the size of the PPT slide to the dimension and size you require when it is saved as a JPG.
- Use PPT Page set-up and choose On-screen Show 16:9. The default size of this page set up is 25.4cm x 14.29cm. This creates a JPG size of 960 x 540 pixels, which is adequate for a video for web. The usual size for web videos is 800 x 450 pixels.
- If you want to show your video on a big screen, change the page set up to 36cm x 20.25cm. This creates a JPG size of 1360 x 765 pixels which is adequate for a video size of 1280 x 720 pixels.
2. Script the video in PPT: This is an iterative process between creating the PPT visual on screen and the narration, which I write in the notes section of the PPT. The visual effect is important to maintain interest and reinforce the narration key messages.
- I spend a little money purchasing iStock royalty-free pictures. I use enough pictures to ensure the graphics transition frequently, to keep viewer interest. Be sure to purchase the right size iStock photo to suit the size of the video you are creating (refer to the graphic pixel size).
- To create the effect of PPT animation, simply express any build over several screens e.g. PPT screen 1 has the first bullet point, PPT screen 2 has the first and second bullet point, and so on.
3. Record the narration: The Camtasia PPT add-in enables you to narrate in real time to recording the PPT animations and transitions, using the recording software that is native to the PC you are using. This creates a WMA file. However, I prefer to develop higher quality MP4 audio file using Cubase recording software. Try to export the audio file from the recording software as one file. This gives you more control when you begin to edit the video in Camtasia.
4. Import the PPT created JPG files and audio file/s into Camtasia:
- Add the audio file to the timeline, including any opening and closing music
- Add each jpg to the timeline, in synch with teh audio file narration
- Add any call outs effects to emphasise key points etc
- Add captions, if required
- Add transitions (if required – I usually avoid transitions)
5. Export the finished work to video format: (e.g. WMV, MP4), choosing the file size you require.
- If you require two file sizes, you will need to export the first video and then save the Camtasia file as another version. Then, adjust any call outs to suit new pixel size of the second video.
For the video series on how to use Camtasia, go to Camtasia Studio 8 tutorial video series.
For an example of what a Camtasia video can look like, using the more simply produced PPT add-in, view our Connect Thinking E-Learning Academy Introduction video.
Remember, Camtasia can also create video screencasts for software training.
If you have a question about this process, fee free to leave a comment and I will respond.
By Alison Bickford on December 17, 2011
Our field teams have been given iPads. iPads don’t play Flash. What do we do about our existing flash-based e-learning?
I’m going to begin by professing I am not an expert on HTML5, but here’s what I’ve gleaned, and I’d love it if anyone can add to this post.
When assessing employees ability to interact with e-learning on their iPad, they need to be able to:
- Navigate the LMS through their iPad
- Play interactive content on their iPad (NOTE: I’m not talking about video – I’m talking about e-learning with interactivity, assessment etc)
Let’s start with LMS.
We need to check that our LMS is readily navigatable through the iPad. This means that the functionality actually works through the iPad. What’s also important is that the interface is rendered for the smaller screen. Some LMS have a mobile App that truncates the navigation so that employees can get to the courses assigned to them easily – think less clicks and bigger buttons. Also, when the course is launched, the screen size must fit right for the device, and the interactive buttons, text input etc must work on the touch screen. These are all important things to test with your LMS, if you are considering any tablet access (and I don’t think we can ignore planning to provide table access to LMS).
Now for the content.
Most e-learning content is Flash-based. So, we need to begin to:
- Influence our off-the-shelf suppliers to convert their content to HTML5, and provide both options (Flash & HTML5)
- Change our future e-learning development specifications to include both Flash and HTML5 outputs
- Convert our existing bespoke courses to HTML5
Some authoring tools, such as Lectora, are developing a HTML5 output, meaning you can choose the output type (Flash or HRML5 etc) before you publish. At this time I don’t know what design considerations should be thought about during course development if any.
Some authoring tools are developing a process for converting existing Flash files to HTML5. Adobe Captivate is one such authoring tool.
Articulate are launching a new authoring tool called Storyline in the new year. At this time I’m not sure if it will enable both Flash and HTML5 outputs, or whether Articulate is used for Flash and Storyline is used for HTML5.
What does this mean for Learning and Development professionals?
- We need to maintain our relationship with our IT people to ensure we are involved in the decision to purchase tablets for employees. We need to know when, for what purpose and what kind.
- We need to educate ourselves on what HTML5 mean to LMS access and to mobile e-learning design. It could be that we need to influence tablet purchase choice to suit our e-learning capability.
- We need to prepare for any additional complexity of providing and managing both Flash (for corporate office access) and HTML5 (for mobile access) options for our courseware – our corporate environment may not be able to play HTML5.
- We need to seriously develop a mobile learning strategy – it’s role in enabling staff to learn and to do their job. This may require a rethink about the purpose of your e-learning courses – from just-in-case learning to point of need learning. These are two very different design approaches.
- We need to start questioning our LMS, e-learning off-the-shelf and e-learning content development providers. Articulate your expectations, question their capacity to accommodate HTML5 and get them to commit to timelines.
- If we need to revisit our internally developed e-learning courses, then we need to make sure our source files are in order. I recommend having a strict internal process for keeping source files, and a ledger of some kind to monitor your use of those source files and the output of these.
This video from ElearningTV (YouTube) is a useful starting point about the considerations surrounding HTML5. There is also an interview and demonstration of Articulate Storyline (from about 6min onwards) - see below:
By Alison Bickford on December 4, 2011
Results and commentary from November poll:
What was the most important feature of an authoring tool for poll respondents?
a) Integrates with PowerPoint – 0%
b) Flexible and varied template – 18%
c) Publishes to multiple formats – 45%
d) Integrates with a content management system – 18%
e) Web-based, enabling collaborative authoring – 18%
n = 11
Although response numbers aren’t large, Publishes to multiple formats is the clear winner. And this is probably not surprising. We want to be able to reuse our content, and, with the corporate adoption of smartphones and tablets, many of us are exploring mobile learning. Additionally, in terms of format, many of us are looking to ensure our authoring tool doesn’t limit us to file type to such an extent that the learning object can’t be played across all platforms. Take the Flash v’s HTML5 issue as an example.
I was a little surprised by zero votes for Integrates with PPT. This may be a reflection of the authoring skills of respondents. If e-learning authoring is part of your usual day job, you want a sophisticated authoring tool, and one that integrates with PPT is probably not going to deliver this. However SMEs who are being tasked with creating rapid e-learning can find PPT as a starting point quite useful – although fraught with instructional design danger.
I have worked with a couple of organisations who have adopted collaborative authoring, and this was how I began my authoring experience. When implemented properly, the workflow supports project efficiency. However, the workflow does require discipline and good team work, and this can be a challenge in itself.
A content management system can again provide discipline around managing files and learning objects. This can only be a good thing, as you develop a suite of e-learning over time. However, success is dependent upon the discipline of the content developers to file and name in a consistent manner, and this doesn’t always happen.
The more varied the templates, the easier it is to develop e-learning. Templates enable consistency of text and graphic layout, and layout is a very important visual consideration.
There are many many authoring tools, and Jane Hart has been maintaining one of the best list of authoring tools for a number of years now. I recommend people visit Jane’s website regularly.
Although authoring tools are important to make our job easier and to provide us with design options, they cannot save us from poor instructional design. I recommend people who are new to designing e-learning share their new courses with an expert for critique as part of the improvement cycle (and yes, I am happy to provide critique and advice at anytime).
By Alison Bickford on November 20, 2011
I uunderstand how important it is for people to choose the right authoring tool for their needs. Frankly, you may require 2 or 3 different tools, based on different learning design needs and skill level. Earlier discussion about authoring tools can be easily located by clicking the “Authoring tools” from the category list of this blog.
This week I came across a pretty good review of 10 authoring tools, from Craig Weiss of the ELearning24/7 Blog. It’s worth a review. I particularly liked Craig’s criteria for ”best of breed’ authoring tool selection. Click here.
There will be a commentary on our November poll results on what people are prioritising when chooing an authoring tool at the end of the month. Click here to answer our poll. Thank you.