Once you start making videos for education, you are going to want to use video-editing software to polish the results. Even a simple webcam shot will have unneeded lead-in and exit footage to trim out. You might also want to add a title or even create a moving image introduction as I have started doing for my videos. These are easy to create, as video-editing software comes with the features already prepared for you. You will also need to use video-editing software to create digital storytelling videos that combine narration with visuals for a striking effect.
While instructional designers use high-end video-editing software such as Adobe Premier Pro or Apple Final Cut Pro, there is a variety of free or inexpensive—and very easy to master—systems for editing videos on your own computer. Here are my favorites.
WeVideo (https://www.wevideo.com) is my first suggestion for people new to video editing. This browser-based system requires no downloads; everything is done online. It uses a simple process for creating or editing videos, yet it is also quite powerful in that it comes with numerous helpful functions. Like most editing systems, you are given a timeline onto which you just drop whatever element you want to appear, whether sound, images, text, or video. You can build a digital story from scratch by first dropping the narration onto the timeline, and then dragging your images on top of it, pulling and pushing them to change their duration to match the narration. WeVideo comes with a variety of motion title animations to create an engaging entry into your video, along with soundtracks, transitions, and graphics.
The free version restricts the number and length of videos and adds a logo to the output, and so you will likely want to pay the $5–8 per month for the upgraded versions. See my tutorial on how it works: https://youtu.be/bRZioKAFPPU.
Windows Movie Maker is a free download from Microsoft that was one of the first video-editing applications for home computers. It was my go-to choice when I first started teaching digital storytelling over ten years ago because there was little else on the market. While it is slated to be replaced by Story Remix, that release has been delayed, and with Windows Movie Maker still working, it is worth using for simple editing. One drawback is that it lacks the functionality to drag an element such as an image across the timeline to match it to the narration. Instead, the user needs to enter the duration of each element as a numerical value, which is clunky. But an advantage is that it has a “Ken Burns” function that moves an image slowly across the screen during narration, which is effective for keeping viewer attention and oddly missing from many other video editors.
Apple iMovie comes free with any Mac computer and is probably the best choice for Apple users. It has more functionality than Windows Movie Maker, including far easier editing and timing features, as well as interesting templates to use as starting points for your productions. It also produces video in 4K, the highest possible resolution, which is unique for a product at this level, and has an app for making videos on your iPad or iPhone. Of note, it includes a chromakey function that allows you to change the background of videos into anything you want, such as images, text, or videos, and so can be used for greenscreen shots.
Camtasia (http://shop.techsmith.com/store/techsm/en_US/cat/categoryID.67158100) from TechSmith is the editing software that I use for all my videos. It combines ease of use with powerful functionality in a way that is hard to beat. One nice feature is the built-in screen casting function that not only records screencasts, but automatically imports them into the editor when you are done. This makes for a seamless process to create screencasts without the need to search for files or worry if the recorded file format is compatible with the editor.
Camtasia also comes with chromakey functionality for making greenscreen videos, which makes it easy to add an image or video background to a greenscreen shot. Moreover, Camtasia allows the user to add interactions to videos, such as quizzes interspersed at different points, which are critical for generating real learning and retention. Plus, Camtasia recently released a number of free templates for adding introductions and other professional elements to your videos.
Camtasia's educational price is $169, which is not much more than you would pay for an annual subscription to WeVideo. If you purchase Camtasia, I would recommend spending a little more to get the bundle with Snagit, which is an image-capture-and-editing system that I use for all my photo work. Like Camtasia, you take a screen capture, and the result is automatically imported into the editor, where you can add text, arrows, circles, and so on. When students or faculty have problems with a system, I can use Snagit to produce an image showing them exactly what they should do in literally one minute. Both Camtasia and Snagit allow you to post the result to TechSmith's cloud-hosting system for free, quite convenient for sharing the results with students. Finally, consider adding TechSmith relay, which is a simple system for hosting and sharing videos between groups.
Adobe Spark (https://spark.adobe.com) is a suite of three tools—a graphics creator, a webpage creator, and a video editor—that has been getting a lot of press from the education community as of late. It is designed for education and allows teachers and students to collaborate on videos and image construction. The teacher creates a classroom in the cloud-based system, and then both teacher and students use the tools to make and post their creations. The classroom can be closed so that only students can get in, or it can be made public.
While the video editor does not have the functionality of iMovie or Camtasia, it comes with templates to guide the user through the process of creating videos for different purposes, such as a “tell what happened” video. This could be helpful in facilitating student video assignments.
Once you start making videos, it is a good idea to check out the excellent tutorials at the Vimeo Video School (https://vimeo.com/blog/category/video-school). These cover all aspects of video creation, from lighting and sound for live shoots to video editing. Even if you understand the basic concepts, you will likely pick up many helpful hints from these tutorials.
With these systems and tutorials, there is no excuse not to make engaging videos for your courses.
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