Tel Tales

Adventures in Technology Enhanced Learning @ UoP

Author: Alana Aldred

Ten steps to creating great lecture capture!

One – Don’t be scared, just give it a go!

Embedding video content within your own Moodle course can be a great way of engaging your students and enhancing their learning experience.

Two – Think about your audience

Think about what it is that you want your students to learn from engaging in this video – will it add value to their learning experience? Is this the most appropriate way of delivering course content? Will watching the video deepen students’ subject knowledge? How will the content delivered in the video tie in with the course learning objectives?

Three – Planning out your recording

You may have lots of ideas of what you want to talk about in your video – whether it be a new topic you are introducing or an old topic you are revisiting. However, plan exactly what it is you want to say and when, and then break this down into bite-sized chunks. You can create a storyboard to help you do this. This will help you to refine your presentation and add structure.

Once you have done this write a script; read it out aloud so that you can hear what works and what feels too forced. Having a script also means that you have a readily available transcript document, therefore providing an alternative format for those students that have accessibility issues when watching videos.

Four – Using visuals

To help make your video more interesting and engaging use images and graphics along side your presentation to illustrate key points and explain complex concepts. However, don’t go overboard and send you students into visual stimulation meltdown, as too much can also distract the audience from the point you are trying to make – keep it relevant!

Five – How to add interactivity

Following on from the video why not set up a discussion activity that allow students to apply what they have learnt from the video. You could also create some questions that test students’ understanding of the information that has been delivered.

Six – What about the length?

The length of your video is really important. When possible try to keep recordings to a maximum of 10 minutes or create pauses to give your audience a chance to digest and reflect on the topic you are presenting about. Studies have shown that students do not engage with video lectures in the same way as face-to-face lectures

Seven – Be Copyright smart!

Make sure that any material used in your videos is copyright cleared – this means using sites like Creative commons and Flickr creative commons or gaining permissions directly from the original owner of the material.

Eight – Using equipment

Tripod: If you are not using an integrated lecture capture system then you need to consider  using a tripod for your recording – wobbly footage can cause quite a nauseating effect in your audience!   

Best possible lighting: Unless you are recording in a professional studio you will need to think carefully about the quality of lighting in your chosen recording location. Good lighting will maximise the picture quality – think about whether there is enough natural light from windows or whether the room has adequate lighting.

Microphone: sound is a really important element of your recording… if the audio is bad then your audience is not going to be able to engage with it and will very quickly lose interest in what is being presented!

Nine – Location, location, location

Choose the space wisely! You’ll need a quiet location where you know you won’t be interrupted or disturbed. Locations that suit the topic you are presenting on are great. However, be wary on how practical the location is to record and be aware that you may need permission to be there!

Ten – You; The presenter!

Rehearse and practice before pressing the record button…

  • Be yourself!
  • Dress in neutral clothing
  • Avoid fast movements and fidgeting!
  • Be natural and informal in your delivery – try, when possible, to bring humor and your own experiences into your presentation
  • Speak clearly and using short sentences and don’t panic if you get your words muddled… just carry on as if you would do in a lecture theatre!
  • Make eye contact with the camera in order to connect with your audience


Skills4StudyCampus – online study skills support

Alana Aldred

Many students who arrive at the University often fall short of the necessary study skills required for them to achieve their academic goals. With the support of the Academic Skills Unit (ASK) students are able to enhance their skills by attending workshops and one-to-one sessions, as well as receive paper handouts. However, the University have also invested in a licence for the Palgrave MacMillan resource Skills4StudyCampus which is available to our students online.

Skills4StudyCampus is an interactive online tool that allows students to prepare for studying at university level and to help them develop their study skills. There are 6 modules: Getting ready for academic study; Reading and note-taking; Critical thinking skills; Writing skills; Exam skills; and Time management.

Skills4StudyCampus Moodle site ‘Skills4Study@Portsmouth’

Students can access this resource by logging into Moodle and selecting the site Skills4Study@Portsmouth from the ‘Useful Sites’ drop-down menu.

Students are then free to actively participate in activities as and when they need to. The modules include: diagnostic tests to help students recognise areas in which they need to improve their skills; self assessment tasks to help them gain a deeper understanding of their knowledge and skills; interactive activities to help reinforce the skills and knowledge they have learnt; and module assessments to test understanding of what has been learnt. Students can also use the My Journal feature which allows them to make notes and reflect on their learning.

The modules have been designed to suit different types of learners and has been created to support students with accessibility issues.

Embed Skills4StudyCampus into your Moodle course units
Skills4StudyCampus modules / sections can now be easily embedded directly into a Moodle course unit using the External tool activity.

To find out more on how to embed sections of this resource into your Moodle course unit, log into Moodle and select ‘Staff Help Site’ from the ‘Help Sites’ drop-down menu. You will then find a section that will provide you with guidance along with the generated embedding links.


Open source repositories

Alana Aldred

Okay, so this post isn’t really about whether cats are cuter than dogs… rather, it’s about open source repositories, and how they can help you easily access copyright free images and open source content!

We all know that using strong visuals and resources are a really important element in creating engaging paper-based and online course content to enhance the student learning experience.

And we also know that the internet is rich with photos, illustrations, graphic elements, fonts and videos… just a quick Google search and you can find thousands of hits right at your fingertips. But how do we know what is legally allowed to be used without restrictions? It’s fair to say that copyright law can be a bit of a minefield!

So to make life just a little easier, next time you are thinking about revamping old course materials, or creating some new ones, why not take a look at, for example, Wikimedia Commons. The site holds hundreds of thousands of media files, which can be freely used for educational purposes.

Another example of a lesser known repository is NYPL Digital Collections. This site holds a vast array of research collections featuring prints, photographs, maps, manuscripts, streaming video and much, much more!

The following websites have curated links to dozens of free and open source resources (and offer more than just cute pictures of cats and dogs!), which can be used with either little or no restrictions. You can also find tools that can be used to help deliver course content in a more engaging way.


Is your team ‘slack’ing when it comes to communication?

Alana Aldred

So we all know that good communication is a pretty important element of any productive team – why, then, is it so hard to get it right?

One of the most frustrating points about communication at work can either be the lack of it … or, possibly, too much of it in the form of hundreds of back-and-forth emails with threads as long as your arm, all talking about the same topic!

Well, the TEL team were definitely feeling this pain! So we came up with a plan to investigate a new method of communication. As a team it was very important that whatever form this took it wouldn’t be invasive to our workflow – it had to fit in with us as a team and as an individual.

So, after a little window shopping we found the Slack app!

So what is it? In very simple terms Slack is a messaging app for teams. It is available to view on iOS and Android mobile devices, and from your Mac & Windows Desktop. The platform allows you to create Channels (groups) which you and other team members can join and contribute to.

Slack interface

Slack, as with most packages, offers a free service. However, it is limited compared to the paid fee package. The TEL team is a fairly small team and we find that the free service is enough for us. The free package is also unlimited unlike so many others where you only get to trial for a short period of time and then have to buy in!

So how do we use Slack? Just to give you an example, we have a news and announcement channel which is used by the whole team; it’s here that we can all view and share information that is important across the team. Then we have project channels which are used by those working on a specific projects – the really useful thing about this is that if you come in late to work on a project you can view all previous dialogue and associated documentation from when the channel was created – Instantly (pretty much) in the loop! It’s also worth mentioning that if you are working on something confidential than it is possible to set up a private channel. My advice would to avoid using private channels unless really necessary as it can create barriers to collaboration and the sharing of ideas and knowledge.

However, Slack isn’t just about messaging! You can upload and share files and it also has some fantastic integrations both practical and fun!

Add media options

Lastly, no one wants to be distracted at work. There are a couple of ways to overcome this issue. First, get your notifications set up! There are loads of options on how and when to get notified! Second, set up a social channel for general chit-chat (and the overuse of /giphy!) … this should prevent work-related channels drifting off topic!

I’m not afraid to say I’m a big fan of Slack. In fact I love it, as it’s so easy and simple to setup and use! Personally I think it’s enhanced our ability to collaborate more freely and its facilitated us in being able to support team members because we are now much more aware of what is happening within the team.

If this sounds like something your team could benefit from using then why not check it out – See