Got a question?
Office: +61 2 9988 3412
Mobile: +61 417 252 960
Or use Contact Us
- Authoring tools
- Change management
- Changing practice
- Client question
- E-Learning strategy
- E-Learning tutorial
- Learning Management Systems
- Mobile learning
- Organisational culture
- Performance support tools
- Project Management
- Research – Corporate VLE
- Social media
- Systems training
- Virtual classroom
- Workplace learning
- Workshop participants
The E-coach Blog
By Alison Bickford on August 18, 2012
Choose a format
The first thing I did was settle on a format which I could use consistently as part of the brand. This included:
- Creating a list of viable topics.
- Writing scripts for each topic. These later become transcripts.
- Setting a format – 5-7 minute videos of expert opinion.
- Deciding where the videos would best be accessed by clients. I chose my blogs, YouTube and iTunes (I assumed iPhone download)
- Purchasing a short audio sting from iStock, for the intro and outro.
- Creating a intro announcement.
- Getting artwork done for the intro video screen and iTunes tile (see thumbnail above).
Cost v’s Quality v’s Time
My time is scarce and our brand is about providing advice that is accessible and unpretentious. The podcast videos were never about being a corporate quality. They were about getting content to people. I have improved my video output over time, through trial and error. I have made a conscious decision that, if the production quality is not perfect, that’s okay so long as the content is useful.
Video recording equipment
- Teleprompter app for iPad (Pomptware Plus - free). I use Dropbox to send my scripts from my PC to the iPad for uploading into Promptware.
- Adjustable ironing board, to put the iPad on.
- 180cm Tripod for the video camera – A$120. This stands directly behind the iPad. The iPad is positioned just below the lens.
- Double-headed light stand – although I intend to buy some cheap flood lighting from the hardware store.
- Canon HFM52 Camcorder – A$800. This is a new model, and I chose it for it’s performance in low light.
- AudioTechnica lapel mic – A$85. Unfortunately, I have bought the incorrect mic (again). The camcorder requires one with its own power source.
My partner then patiently stands behind the camera while I perform the transcript.
I output the video to MP4 HD, 1280 x 720 pixel.
Video post production
Production is tedious, because I have chosen to output for both YouTube (1280 x 720 pixel, HD, 16:9 dimensions, MP4 output) and iPhone via iTunes (480 x 320 pixel, 3:2 dimensions, M4V output). The two formats have a different pixel size and dimension, which means I have to adjust any edits I make for a YouTube output to fit the smaller, different ratio iTunes output. Here’s the detail:
- Import the video into Camtasia 8 video editing software.
- Import my standard audio intro/outro, audio announcement and opening jpg picture.
- Import the video and edit by putting in call outs, overlaying jpg pictures (sized for 1280 x 720).
- Produce the video for YouTube.
- Save the Camtasia file for iTunes and adjust all call outs and pictures for 480 x 320.
- Produce the video for iTunes.
NOTE: To make the overlaying pictures, I simply make up PPT to the required size for YouTube (1280 x 720) and save as a jpg. This will create each PPT screen into a picture. I then have to resize the PPT for dimension 480x 320 and export again to use in the iTunes production. This is not fun.
NOTE: The video dimension is always 16:9, but the iPhone dimension is 3:2. This results in a black bar above and below the video when it is viewed on the iPhone.
Uploading video to the platforms
The YouTube and iTunes platforms are very different. For YouTube, you are physically uploading the video into a relatively secure platform. Your video can be embedded and screen captured by others, but essentially it stays on the YouTube server.
To get your video displayed in iTunes, all you do is ‘send’ a RSS feed to iTunes. You don’t upload the video on to an iTunes server. Anyone who clicks to download your video in iTunes is actually downloading it from your personal server to their device. This means the videos can be on anyone’s device – they are not secured to the iTunes platform.
Uploading to YouTube is pretty straight forward, although effort is required to maintain the channel, as new features and layouts are being introduced all the time. Click here to review our YouTube channel.
Itunes is more fiddly. Originally I got help to set up my RSS feed to iTunes. I use FeedForAll to maintain and update my iTunes RSS feed. The RSS feed needs to be adjusted with details of each new video. The video and RSS feed need to be uploaded onto my website server. Then I use a ‘ping’ to signal to iTunes that my RSS feed has been updated. This refreshes the information in iTunes. Click here to review our iTunes channel.
NOTE: When you upload new content to YouTube and iTunes, there is an opportunity to attach metadata to the videos. These are descriptions and keywords that describe your video content. Be sure to be consistent and thorough in the metatdata, as this makes or breaks how easily people finding your videos.
Once the videos are in YouTube and iTunes, I promote them via Twitter, Google+, my 2 website blogs and my e-newsletter.
Be sure to measure the success of your videos. In my case, I am looking at popularity. I measure and monitor various YouTube and iTunes parameters once a week. Occasionally I get written feedback, which is always nice.
So, there you have it! It’s a big effort, which is why I only release a video every 4 weeks. But, it’s a valuable and accessible way for potential clients to get information and evaluate the Connect Thinking and Connect Thinking E-Learning Academy services before contacting me.
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 1, 2011
There is a plethora of e-learning authoring tools available on the market. Each have their unique combination of features. As our sophistication about e-learning develops, so do our authoring tool requirements.
What feature of an e-learning tool is most important to you now? If it’s not one of the five listed, then please feel free to make a comment and I will respond. Your poll selection is anonymous. Results and commentary will be published first week in December. Thank you for your participation.
By Alison Bickford on October 31, 2011
Results and commentary from October Poll:
What is your greatest e-learning skill development challengs?
a) Instructional design – 24%
b) Visual design – 33%
c) Authoring (using an authoring tool) - 14%
d) Project management – 29%
n = 21
Thanks to Richard who thought instructional design skills make or break an e-learning project. I agree. Even if your organisation uses an e-learning outsourcing model, you still need in-house e-learning instructional design know-how to be able to communicate effectively and collaborate with the e-learning provider.
Thanks also to Ann who lamented about client hesitation to engage a professional visual designer. The majority may agree with Ann. Visual design makes ot breaks whether a course looks professional and is congruent with content and context. A good visual designer will make your e-learning course look anything but PPT!
Project management polled second highest, and I’m happy to see this because it’s been my experience that managing a project – relationships, clarity of objectives and outcomes, managing quality and organisational change etc – are all vital activities for e-learning success. Sometimes project management skill requirements aren’t obvious to e-learning novices, but it soon becomes apparent.
The bottom line – developing and implementing e-learning is a completely different skill set to classroom based delivery. Learning professionals who are new to e-learning need the opportunity to play with the technology, immerse in the plethora of information on the web, and learn this new craft.
Watch this short video to learn more: Building E-Learning Knowledge and Skill
November Poll will be out in a few days “Which e-learning authoring tool feature is most important to you?”