|Creating the Website
After consulting the instructional designer, I revised the text-based document and added new sections to the syllabus, such as the content map, methods of instruction, etc. I deleted others, such as my assumptions about teaching, learning, and writing; because the information was not focused enough. Once the paper syllabus was revised, deciding on the structure of the website was easy. The navigation buttons roughly corresponded to the subtitles of the text segments. The web template was created by Macromedia Dreamweaver 8, and it included 24 navigation buttons. Most of these were intended to serve as links to video clips or to a combination of video and text.
Recording the Video Clips
Recording the video clips was no less challenging than creating the website template. The “studio” was set up in my living-room, and a professional videographer (my husband) was shooting the video with lower-end professional equipment. The university’s Distance Learning division could have helped me with the video production if the recording had been done during the day. However, I chose to record the clips at one sitting, which took several hours and was only completed in the early hours of the following day. As to the set-up, a tripod was used for the camera. Two soft lights lit my face from the front evenly and one hair light was used in the back to give my head some dimension. I was sitting in the middle of the room, away from the back wall, to make sure that the carefully arranged background with drapery and plants would remain out of focus and somewhat blurry. I was wearing a clip-on microphone hidden in my shirt to ensure good sound quality.
In the Role of the Anchorperson
Assuming the role of an anchorperson or reporter presented me with several challenges. My goal was to look professional, but friendly and somewhat informal. I put on make-up and wore a simple blue shirt with no patterns or stripes, to help the viewing quality of the final movie. Since I did not have a teleprompter, I had to learn the text by heart and recite it for the camera, preferably without looking down at my notes. Stage fright had a negative impact on my memory, and the long hours of recording resulting in fatigue that interfered with clear speech and articulation. Several segments had to be re-recorded.
Editing and Streaming the Video
After recording the clips, the videographer who recorded the clips also edited the tapes using Avid Xpress Pro software. My role was secondary in this process and involved only intuitive theoretical comments about what should be cut or kept. In most cases, it was the long pauses between my sentences and the occasional stumbling on my words that needed to be eliminated from the tape.
The final stage of the process was to stream the clips on the web, using Macromedia Flash 8 Video Encoder. The final product can be viewed here
When using images or video clips for online teaching, instructors must have a plan for making their teaching objects ADA compliant, so that the information is accessible for students with disabilities. In my case, this problem was solved by the availability of the text-based syllabus side-by-side with the video syllabus. However, using a spontaneous recording without captions or readable text attached would violate the law. Fortunately, the issue of ADA compliance was resolved by WKU’s Distance Learning Division. Based on an XML code written by Leyla Zhuhadar, The DL office now offers a service which provides captions for all video recordings produced by faculty.