Creating Resources

Week Five Activities (due March 13):

  1. Make a brief video for your course.
  2. Make some content for your course using any one of the other tools described.
  3. Create a blog post in which you embed your creations and share your experiences making them.

Don’t forget to start early to get things done.  There’s no time like the present.

make pizza

Despite all the great resources available on the web, you’ll probably want to create some tasty customized content of your own that is more than just text.  You have many options about the form this content can take, including:

  • Screencasts–where you record and share what appears on your computer screen.
  • Videos–where you use a web cam on your computer or cell phone to record content.
  • Timelines–where information is presented chronologically, while incorporating multi-media elements (Here’s one on the history of VCU, using the same tool described in the Make below.)
  • Storymaps–where text, audio, and video resources are tied to particular spots on a map. (Here’s an example from Chioke l’Anson in African-American Studies.)
  • Infographics–where information, ideas, and processes are presented graphically.  (Silly or serious, these are very popular.)

All of these formats are well within your reach and this week is your chance to experiment with creating some original content in a format that may not be familiar to you. What you decide to make is pretty much up to you. Below, we provide a little background and instructions on using various tools, with links to more detailed directions and tutorials.

Activity #1 Make a Video

One of the most common ways faculty add custom content is by making a video or screencast.  If you already have experience making videos, use this activity to raise the bar on your work and try something a little different than you’ve done before.  If you’re totally new to videos, don’t worry about the bells and whistles right now; focus on recording and embedding a simple video.

Here’s a brief overview of some general issues you might want to consider in making a video or screencast from ALT Lab’s Molly Ransone.

Below is a little background information on making videos, followed by instructions on a couple of ways to create videos or screencasts. Pick ONE of these to use (or use one of the other platforms mentioned in the background information). Whatever you choose, have fun.

(Click on the titles next to the down arrows to get details.)

Some background on videos

Some Background on Videos

Videos create a different experience for students, especially if you move beyond just talking into a webcam sitting at your desk.  A video from Gardner Campbell to his students is one example of simple, no-frills technology being used to illustrate a substantive idea (“associative trails”) in a unique way. And remember, students, too, can create videos and embed them in their own blogs. Knowing a little bit about how to create your own videos will help you help them.

How is this done?  There are countless ways to make a video for your course but they all involve the same general steps.

  1. Record.  Videos can be recorded using a cellphone, a webcam, a video camera, or recorded as a screen-cast (capturing your computer screen).  (The ubiquity of cell phone cameras is what’s behind the rise of services like Vine and Periscope.)
  2. Store / access.  Video files are large and you’ll usually need to store them elsewhere and link out to them from your course site, rather than trying to upload your video directly to your site (where you’ll probably run into problems with capacity limits).
    • YouTube is an easy and popular place to upload and store video.  It will compress your file and make sure it plays properly across different devices.  You’ll need to set up a free account if you don’t have one yet. You can control YouTube privacy settings by making your video either public (default), unlisted, or private.  YouTube also has basic editing features that allow you to trim a video, merge videos, add music, and so on.
    • Kaltura is a pay service to which VCU has subscribed.  You can record screencasts using Kaltura and store your video, similar to YouTube.
  3. Embed.  If you’ve stored your video on YouTube, you can simply put the video’s URL on a separate line in your post and WordPress will automatically embed it.  If your video is elsewhere, you can get a bit of code (look for “embed code”) that you copy and paste. Otherwise, link out to to your video like any other hyperlink.

As you get more serious about your videos, you’ll want to consider:

Editing Software

There’s an array of software available to help you make and edit screencasts and/or other videos.  Many are free.  (You don’t need to use any of these this week but use your Diigo account to bookmark things that might be of use later!)

  • Your cell phone camera probably has basic video editing software that will allow you to at least trim your videos.  (iPhones have iMovie, for example.)
  • YouTube has a basic video editing platform once you’ve uploaded your video.
  • Mac computers have iMovie and Windows PC’s have access to Movie Maker, both of which enable you to edit video and add features.
  • There are specialized apps (Explain Everything is one for Mac or Android- $4) that helps you create Khan-Academy-style videos.
  • Finally, if you’re a little more serious about creating videos but still want something easy-to-use, consider investing ($179 educator price, as of this writing) in Camtasia, the screen casting and video editing platform.  It has robust features that can be very useful.

Here’s some more advice about video and screen-casting software aimed at teachers.


Make a simple screencast with Snagit

Make a simple screencast with Snagit

If you’re going to to make a screencast, try the Snagit Chrome extension  (not to be confused with the full-version of Snagit that costs money) that can capture images on your screen as well as create brief screencasts. (Another simple option is Screencast-o-Matic.)  Download and follow directions.  ALT Lab’s Stan Anamuah-Mensah offers a quick tour of Snagit features below, showing how it can be used to capture a static screenshot and record a brief screencast.


Once you’ve created the screencast, save it to your Google Drive and then upload it to YouTube. From there you can easily embed it on your site.


 Activity #2  Embed and Tell

Write a blog post in which you share the video you’ve created, preferably embedded, and tell a bit about your thinking behind this creation.  How would it be used in a course?  What did you learn in creating it?


Activity #3 Choose a Make

Pick any one of the major Makes to complete (see below).

You’ve made a video or screencast!  Congrats.  Now try some other forms of original content, too.  Choose one of the major Makes (or more, if you’d like!). Add a little positive Karma to round out to 5 stars.