Blended Content Studio

Lesson One: Course/module introductions; video prompts

Module Intro: Course and Module Introductions

It’s a bit meta I know!

  • Welcome to the module on creating course module introductions/video prompts
  • Course/Module introductions communicates to students:
    • What is covered
    • Why is it important
    • How you will support them

The above intro is meant both to introduce this course and show you what a course introduction might look like for your own course. Think about what you would want to say, and how you’d try to communicate it through your words, manner, and setting.

A standard setup

My video setup is composed of things I bought myself, because they were cheap enough (for me at least) that  they weren’t worth the paperwork and the hassle of siloing off work use. After playing around with this and thinking through a range of faculty needs we’ve settled on this as a base recommended setup:

The major components are 

 Keep in mind you don’t necessarily need any of this. If you have a  touch screen laptop or tablet, you can draw right on it and don’t need the Wacom. If you have a webcam in your laptop you may not need an external one. The swivel stand adds flexibility for certain uses of the web cam (like whiteboarding and teleprompting) but if that’s not your style, just skip it. What I wanted to spec out was something cheap that would give broad capability to people starting from scratch.

Being a bit more you for the camera

This will sound weird, but whatever volume you normally do “you” — you need to nudge it up just a bit if you are recording a video of any length. There’s something that asynchronous video does where it shaves of a bit of enthusiasm, a bit of emotion. Something about it being recorded.

Or maybe it’s when we don’t have an energy on the other end of the conversation, when we don’t have that audience energy, we just don’t give it our all? In any case this video talks thinking through your style.

One additional note: Some people have more life obligations than others. Smaller houses than others. Noisier kids than others. 

When I say be a bit more you, I do not mean you are required to erase your life. I recorded this whole video and posted it, and then realized the shirt I changed out of after fixing a clogged sink at lunch is right behind me in the video. That’s OK. I recently recorded instructional videos (Links to an external site.) for a hundred thousand dollar educational grant where I was the primary expert, and I did it looking the sort of haggard a person looks when they made the decision to let their college age daughter and her boyfriend quarantine in what used to be one’s master bed and bath suite for three months.  That’s OK. 

And let’s add that many of the expectations of professionalism are felt differently by marginalized populations (and that’s not OK). My lack of a haircut and a shave in those videos videos is unkempt, but women are more likely to be seen as unprofessional.

So if a kid wanders into your video, embrace it. If the exercise bike is behind you with the laundry on it, embrace it. Use it to connect, and let students know you too struggle with the same things they do. (And stop policing the selves that others bring, especially if you haven’t done the reading (Links to an external site.)).

Recording yourself

Use what you have!

There’s many ways to record yourself, and what you use will depend on what’s available to you. At WSU we have Panopto and Zoom, both of which can record webcams and streams. Most people will use one of those. You can do a lot of stuff on your phone as well.

However, I’ve found that many people want to know how to go a bit beyond these options, so I’ve also provided a mid-range solution and high-end solution below.


If you want a free/cheap tool for yourself that allows some basic editing, Screencast-o-matic might make sense.

First download Screencast-o-matic by going to the link and following the actions below in the animated GIF:

You can choose to record your webcam, your screen, or a combination of the two.  To launch it later simply return to that web page and click launch free recorder again. If you want to upgrade to get basic editing capability it’s just $20 a year and less for teams.

High-end: Camtasia

My favorite product, hands down, is Camtasia. It’s pricey. The main strengths are that it is optimized for screencasts, where zooming into various sections of the screen is important. An educational license can go on two machines and is $169.

Make a video discussion prompt with your phone

Video prompts are simple, and can be pretty informal. It’s often a good idea to to them on your phone, to enhance the conversational style.  Here’s a quick example for a course on misinformation and disinformation. Nothing about this is perfect. 

The fact that it’s quick and informal gives you some flexibility. But the idea here in your media is some of these more informal pieces try to connect with the students. In this case, they are still going to play this and then type in a discussion forum, but it feels a little less cold of an exercise to some of them.

As always, if you have an accommodation, check the auto-generated captions to make sure they are good, and contact Academic Services to help if they are not.  Some background noise is fine, though be aware if the background noise is too high it might be distracting for some viewers.

You can also go outside, or use my favorite lightbox — the parked automobile.

In this one we describe a slightly different assignment with some some complexity. You duplicate the instructions in brief in the actual discussion forum.

Asynchronous Participation: Voicethread & Google Doc

NOTE: This part of the course is not available to those reading the released course materials. But I include the instructions here so that if others want to set up a workshop they can borrow this method.

Asynchronous students! In this section each week you’ll find instructions on how to participate in the asynchronous version of the  class. If this was a normal class (like you are running in the fall, assuming normal means anything anymore) the instructions would be more or less the same each week, since it is crucial you preserve the rhythm of the class

Because part of the point of this class is to model, though, in this class we’ll show you a different asynch technique each time. This week we show you the simplest option: the humble “Zoom link in a discussion forum” activity.

This week

Class Voicethread

Watch and comment on Voicethread.

First, login into voicethread here [Not available]

Second, if you haven’t subscribed to the class voicethread, go here:

[Not available]

After that, navigate to the first class and play. If it does not autoplay, click the movie icon on the left. (Links to an external site.)


When you get to the breakout tasks, go to this document:

[Not available]

  1. Scroll down to the bottom of the document and pick one of the three asynchronous groups (it’s fine if someone has already started).
  2. Fill out your answers, then scan the document and look at what others have written.
  3. Find one idea or comment you found interesting and use Google Docs to leave a comment explaining what you found interesting about it. Is it an idea you want to try? Something you have tried before? A concern that you share? Since your name will not be logged by Google here, sign it at the end like so: — Mike C.

Continue Video

Restart the video and forward if desired to when the class returns. Listen to the responses of the other students (both those in the Zoom session and on Voicethread) and respond either to the prompts on the slides (labelled “Asynch flex” or respond to other students.)

Submit Link

Get one of your comments weblink and paste it below. I’ll reply in Voicethread, but this will serve as your verification you did participate. [Not available]

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