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My Mediasite and the Mediasite Desktop Recorder offer an easy and convenient tool to capture, arrange, and deliver your instructional content in an online environment. Prior to beginning your presentation recording, you should give some thought to where and how it should be used in your course. Consider what you want to say, what visual elements you wish to include to enhance the content, the importance of the content to the course, and how to engage your students with your presentation.

This section provides some information, insight, and considerations when preparing your presentation for recording using theMediasite Desktop Recorder. As with any presentation, once you have it ready for recording, it's best to rehearse and practice your presentation before you record.

Thinking About Your Content

The following components are important to consider when planning a lesson. You may decide to include only certain components in the actual video (e.g. the introduction and content presentation). Dividing content this way allows you to leverage the tools available in Blackboard, such as the online test feature and assignment tool. However you choose to deliver content, consider these key elements as you plan a lesson: 

  • Introduction: What is the focus of the lesson? How would you introduce this lesson in a face-to-face environment? How would you engage the students? For instance, you might begin with an example, a thought-provoking question or a discussion of how this content relates to their daily lives.
  • Learning Outcomes: What are the intended learning outcomes after the student has completed this lesson? How will you evaluate whether a student has achieved these outcomes?
  • Readings: What readings are relevant to the lesson? How and when should students encounter these materials?
  • Content Presentation: What media are most suited for delivering and presenting the content of the lesson? Should you use a video, multiple videos or a combination of different media? For instance, you may provide a combination of direct textual instruction, a video, some additional instruction and a relevant link.
  • Assignments: How do the assignments relate to the course goals, objectives and learning outcomes? Do you want to provide a short quiz, in addition to other assignments, to assess students’ understanding of the content material?
  • Recap or Wrap-up: How can you tie together the lesson’s content and activities to help students achieve the intended learning outcomes?
  • Closure: Where can the student go to obtain more information? For instance, you might provide external links and additional resources. 

Choosing Your Presentation Type

The Mediasite Desktop Recorder offers three content capture options to choose from, depending on the purpose and content of your presentation:

  • Screencast plus Audio: This option records a full or user defined screen as video along with audio input from a webcam or desktop microphone. It is the only recording option that displays the mouse cursor in the final output. The on-demand presentation displays a video window without a slide carousel in the Mediasite player. This capturing choice produces the largest file size.
  • Slideshow plus Audio: This option records the computer screens as slides along with audio input from a camera or microphone. It is the same as an Audio-Only presentation in Mediasite. The on-demand presentation displays a computer image window with a slide carousel in the Mediasite player. This option is ideal for users who don’t have a camera or prefer not to be on camera. This capturing choice produces the smallest file size.
  • Slideshow plus video: This option records the computer desktop as slides, video from your camera, and audio from your camera and microphone. It is the traditional Mediasite recording option and presentation format. This capturing choice produces a file size larger than Slideshow plus Audio but smaller than Screencast plus Audio. 

Scripting Your Presentation

Before recording your video it’s helpful to have a strong idea of what you want to say and how you want to say it. While a script isn’t required, planning what you want to say before you record your presentation will help your presentation run smoothly. Planning can help eliminate filler words such as “um” and “uh” and keep your presentation focused on the material you are presenting.

Consider these points as you script and prepare your presentation:

  • Flow: Aim at making your script as conversational as possible. Even if you plan or script your presentation, you want to sound natural -- not like you’re delivering a speech. Remember, too, that when recording a video you will not have the face-to-face feedback that guides you in the traditional classroom.
  • Outlines: You may want to develop a basic outline to guide you as you record the video. This outline might take the form of bullet points or a concept map, or you may want to integrate your outline in the actual presentation as a visual road map to help students know where they are in the presentation process.
  • Length: Divide longer lectures into three to twelve-minute segments for recording. Doing so will make the material more accessible to students and can help you prioritize and organize the topics for the students.
  • Re-usability: Since the videos you create can be reusable learning objects, your script should avoid mentioning time-referenced information such as the current term and any due dates or assignments that may change from semester to semester.

Since you’re not presenting the material in a traditional classroom, you may want to take these additional steps to make your video more effective for students:

  • Gain Attention: Do something to capture the students’ attention at the beginning of the video. You might consider using interesting images, telling a relevant story, or providing some interesting facts.
  • Include Learning Outcomes: If you include the learning outcomes for the video lesson at the beginning, then students can engage with the material and retain the information more effectively.
  • Highlight New Concepts: Use visual and aural clues to highlight new concepts in the video. Allow time in the presentation for students to process the information.
  • Make Connections: When introducing new material, reiterate how it relates to other concepts already covered in the course. This strategy works best in a course where the knowledge builds in a standard format, so if you frequently rearrange concepts and course materials, then you may want to make specific connections in the materials supporting the video presentation.

Using Visuals in Your Presentation

Visuals are one of the most important components of your video presentation, so it’s important to consider how they’ll be used in the lesson. A few points to keep in mind:

  • Start strong: Your first slide should be your title slide which you can use to provide some preliminary information about the structure and scope of your presentation.
  • Minimize text on the slides: A text-heavy slide will cause your audience to read the slide instead of listening to your narration. Visuals are better at conveying your message and engaging your viewer.
  • Avoid reading from the slides: Nothing is more boring than listening to someone read to you what you could read for yourself.
  • Use good slide design: Use standard fonts, and use different font sizes for main points and secondary points. Limit the number, color, and sizes of fonts in your presentation. Use proper capitalization and punctuation, and proofread your slides carefully. Limit or eliminate the use of slide animations and transitions.
  • Incorporate effective graphics: Use instructionally effective graphics (e.g., charts, diagrams and images), and avoid decorative graphics that don’t add to your content.
  • Use branding when appropriate: Make sure to incorporate any branding for your course or department, but try not to make the branding so specific that you can’t reuse the presentation in different semesters and years.
  • Determine your own best practices: If your presentation will become part of a larger library, consider the standards you want to incorporate into each video for unity and consistency (e.g., consistent title slides and review sections).

Preview your presentation: Record your narration for the entire presentation as if you were presenting it. Then, run your presentation, and sit back and listen. You’ll gain an entirely different perspective when you pretend to be the audience. Listening to your presentation enables you to pick up much more easily on awkward moments, unclear passages, and boring spots in need of revision.

  • Provide students with a downloadable, printable version: Use the Print Handouts option to create a PDF handout students can print and take notes on while listening to the presentation. You might even consider leaving some information blank on the printout to encourage note taking.
  • Determine when and how many animations to add to the slides: If you include animations in the slides, it’s important to consider when to add animations and how many animations to add. Include only the types of animations that will make an impact on viewers--not animations that could be distracting.
  • Use animations and visuals consistently: For a visually consistent presentation, limit the number of different animations you apply.

Delivering Your Presentation

You don’t need to be a professional speaker or a seasoned movie star to record an effective presentation. Consider these suggestions when producing your video:

  • Be an engaged speaker: Vary your intonations, use humor and a conversational tone, and remember to smile and be yourself! Your main goal should be to keep your listeners interested and focused. Pretend you are actually talking to a live audience. It may help to place a photograph of your family or a pet near the computer and pretend you’re talking to them.
  • Don’t worry about small mistakes: If you feel that you jumbled a phrase, don’t restart the recording. If you were in the classroom, you would just correct and continue. You can say, “Let me say that again,” and then restate your phrase. Your audience will be just as forgiving as if you were present.
  • Use strong voice inflection: If you do not use a camera in your recordings, your students can’t see your hand gestures or facial expressions. Use strong inflection or repeat the content to emphasize and draw attention to key points.
  • Avoid excessive verbal pauses, such as “um”: Do a dry-run of the presentation, or practice reading the script several times to help eliminate distracting verbal pauses.
  • Check your sound quality: Use an external microphone or headset to achieve a clear, consistent sound. Keep the microphone approximately 6 to 8 inches from your mouth to avoid picking up breathing sounds 

Practicing Your Presentation

Before you record your video, be sure to practice your presentation! A professional approach and being prepared will add significant value to your content and establish credibility in the delivery. Time yourself to make sure you’re making the points you want to make in an appropriate time frame. If your presentation is longer than 15 minutes, you may want to split it up into smaller sections or a group of recordings.

Where to Record

To enhance your desktop recordings, consider these best practice guidelines:

  • Video: Position your webcam so that you or any sitting subjects are at eye-level. Make sure you’re centered in the video screen.
  • Sound: Audio capture can be even more important than the video capture since even the best video capture won’t matter if viewers can’t hear clearly what’s being said. Most webcams have built-in microphones suitable for audio recording. If the audio recorder is separate from the webcam, use a desktop microphone or a headset microphone. If you’re wearing a headset, be sure to adjust it so the microphone is about one inch from the corner of your mouth.
  • Lighting: Proper lighting is essential for good video quality--and even a simple desk lamp can be used as your main light source. Whatever lighting you use, make sure you’re illuminated. Turn on any available lights in the room, close all windows, and minimize glare from the computer monitor. Make sure the light behind you is not brighter than the light illuminating you. Never use your computer monitor as your light source!
  • Background: Position yourself or the subject in front of a wall with neutral colors, and avoid angles that place patterns, wallpaper, or mirrors in the background. You might also use a blank wall if one is available or hang a solid color sheet as a backdrop.
  • Other Considerations: Keep your recording space quiet and comfortable. Clean up your recording area, as a tidy workspace conveys professionalism to your viewers. Turn off all appliances or devices that may create ambient noise, and eliminate all possible distractions and interruptions. Turn off your cell phone, and if you’re at home, let other people in the house know you’re recording a presentation. 

Recording Equipment Needs

Using the right equipment when recording your video can enhance the quality of your presentation. Consider these guidelines when choosing your equipment:

  • Minimum Requirements: For Screencast plus Audio and Slideshow plus Audio presentations, you will need either a built-in microphone or an external microphone. For Slideshow plus Video presentations, you will need both a microphone and a webcam.
  • Headsets with Microphone: If your computer does not have a built-in microphone or if you’re recording in a location with significant background noise, you may want to use a headset with a microphone to eliminate ambient noise.

Describing Your Content

If you plan to share your recordings in your courses, it is good practice to provide brief descriptions of each recording. Your students may be reviewing several lectures, and the description will help inform them of the recording’s content. Describing your content early in your delivery is a plus, and including a short description of the recording when you add it to Blackboard will save your and your students' time. Providing them an "at-a-glance" reference of the content will be very helpful when they have several presentations to view or review through the course. Methods for including descriptions in Blackboard vary depending on the types of tools you use. For example, the Label tool in Blackboard allows you to include a short description of the recording’s content. For more information about other available resources and tools for describing content in Blackboard, please visit the Blackboard Experts wiki site.


These Best Practices resources are part of a collection generously shared, with permission, from the DELTA Knowledge Base, University of North Carolina and Sonic Foundry, Madison WS. Special thanks to Peter Watson, Associate Director, Distance & Distributed Education. University of North Carolina, Raleigh NC.

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