Lost in translation: cameras and microphones

video recording
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

As part of my work in looking at the challenges in delivering teaching remotely during this crisis period I have been reflecting on how teaching staff can translate their existing practice into new models of delivery that could result in better learning, but also have less of detrimental impact on staff an students.

One of the things we noticed when the pandemic struck and lockdown happened, was as the education sector moved rapidly to remote delivery was the different models that people used. However what we did see was many people were translating their usual practice to an online version.

In my post on translating the lecture I discussed the challenges of translating your 60minute lecture into a 60 minute online video presentation. 

There are some problems with this as you are not providing an online video version of the lecture. You are using a platform like Teams or Zoom to deliver the lecture via a webcam. You will not be able to “read” the room as you can in a face to face environment. Video presentations also lose much of the energy that a physical presentation has. It can flatten the experience and people will disengage quite rapidly.

In a couple of posts in this series I discussed how you could reflect on the format of the lecture by looking at how content is produced and delivered for television and radio. 

One aspect I didn’t discuss in too much detail was the technical aspects of recording videos or audio files.

webcam
Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

Back in the day, most laptops didn’t have webcams, and I remember buying external iSight cameras to use with my G5 Power Mac. Today you would be hard pressed to buy a laptop without a built-in webcam, the iPad comes with two cameras (front and back). It’s the same with microphones, the G5 Power Mac had an audio-in mini-jack for an external microphone, though I went out and got a USB Blue Snowball.

So today most people using a computer will have the technical capability to record video and audio easily. However there is more to creating high quality content than the ability to turn on a webcam or speak into the laptop microphone. These tools are fine for video conferencing, but aren’t necessity ideal for creating videos or audio recordings.

microphone
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Using external cameras and microphones is one way in which to enable better quality recordings than using the built in hardware on your laptop.

During the pandemic lockdowns, using your laptop was acceptable. Moving forward and creating new recordings, it makes sense to have better equipment. It’s not just about cameras, but also decent microphones for those cameras.

Most institutions will (probably) have equipment which staff can use, but if there is a strategic approach to building a sustainable approach to the use of video and audio, then universities will need to reflect if they have sufficient resources to support the increased demand for cameras and microphones.

video recording
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Going forward maybe having decent cameras and microphones will be the staple of academic kit, in the same way that laptops are now provided.

In a future post I will talk about creating an ideal environment for recording television style and radio content.

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