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EDUCATION

How to Record Lectures Your Students Will Actually Watch

While the rise in remote learning has disrupted certain aspects of education, it has also created some opportunities for teachers and students. One of those opportunities is that it’s easier than ever to record your lectures so that students can revisit them later. 

Recording lectures is nothing new. For decades, college students and professors have filmed complex lectures as a study aid and to share with students who missed a class for one reason or another. With remote learning, it’s simple to record every lecture and share those lessons with your students. 

In this guide, we’ll explain why you should record your lectures, outline the tools you need to record your lessons, and walk you through the process of recording an online classroom session.

Why should you consider recording your lectures?

“I don’t record my lectures when classes are in-person,” you might be telling yourself, “why should I record my online lectures?” Recording your lectures is a simple thing you can do to help out your students. 

For students who miss class

Even with a rise in distance learning, it’s still possible for students to miss class because of illness or appointments. Other students might “miss” class because their internet can’t handle streaming video very well. By recording your lectures, you’re making it easier for students who were unable to attend class to catch up on their own time. 

For students who need to revisit material

Even normally attentive students can have trouble focusing during distance learning

It’s not just students who physically miss class who benefit from recorded lectures. A student can be physically present but their mind might be elsewhere. We talk a lot about how these times are unprecedented and uncertain. We even talk about how the rise in virtual conferences is leading to Zoom fatigue

It’s easy to forget that the uncertainty in the world is affecting our students as much as anyone else. We can’t expect every student to bring their all to every single lesson. Even students who are typically on-the-ball might be struggling right now and finding it difficult to concentrate during virtual classroom sessions. Recorded lectures can help them fill in the blanks that they might have missed during class.

Students who were able to focus during your virtual lectures will benefit from recording class, too. Everyone has their own preferred way of absorbing information and content. Some students will prefer to revisit their handwritten notes before an exam, while others might retain knowledge better when they rewatch a lecture. 

To transcribe your lessons 

Using a tool like Descript to automatically transcribe your lectures after-the-fact or in real-time is a great gift you can give your students. It’s ideal for any students who are hearing impaired or missed something you said because their internet glitched out at a key moment. 

Transcribing your lessons can also help students study for tests and complete homework assignments. Instead of poring over their notes while trying to remember that trick you taught them to calculate how many feet are in a mile, students can search for relevant keywords to find what they need.

To review your own performance

Recording your own lectures doesn’t only benefit your students—you could learn a thing or two as well. By recording and watching yourself teach, you might pick up on things that you could improve upon. 

Let’s say, for example, that you think that your webcam is picking up your handwritten notes on your white board. When you watch your recorded lectures, you might find that your notes are completely illegible. It’s hard to know exactly what’s working until you see your performance for yourself. 

What do you need to record your lectures?

To record your lectures, all you need is a webcam, a microphone and basic screen recording software. 

Webcam

A high-quality webcam is one of the most important elements of distance learning. At the very least, you need a webcam that has a resolution of 1080p or more and a frame rate of 30fps. Here are a few of our top webcam recommendations for teachers: 

StreamCam: The Logitech StreamCam is feature-rich and only costs $169. It has that 1080p resolution and an impressive 60fps frame rate. It also has horizontal and vertical capture, which is perfect for displaying notes onscreen. Plus, you can use Logitech Capture, a free software add-on, to automate framing and enable multi-source recording.

BRIO: The Logitech BRIO offers an astounding 4k resolution with 30fps. If you’re taking a lot of whiteboard notes in your class, your students will thank you for investing in a webcam that will make those notes crystal clear. 

C930E: Certified for business and priced at $129.99, the Logitech C930E offers 1080p HD quality at 30 FPS and 4X digital zoom. Its 90-degree field of vision is perfect for capturing lessons that require physical examples or a lot of white board space.

Microphone

Now your students can see you, but how well can they hear you? Using a USB microphone instead of an integrated microphone that came with your computer will help your students absorb your recorded lectures.

Yeti: Yeti is a USB microphone with features that are perfect for distance learning. Its cardioid pattern isolates your voice from other room noises, like your dog snoring in the corner. Plus, it has a headphone jack so that you can monitor your own sound. 

Yeti Nano: If you want something a little more portable, Yeti Nano is another plug-and-play USB microphone with the cardioid pattern. It’s just eight inches tall, which makes it ideal for taking with you to school and back if you’re balancing distance learning with in-person classes. 

Snowball iCE: At just $50, Snowball iCE is a budget-friendly USB microphone that still offers superior isolated sound quality vs. a built-in laptop microphone.  

Software

Once you have the tools to be seen and heard by your students, you need software to record yourself. While popular teaching platforms like Zoom offer a simple “record” feature, there are free software options that can record your lectures with a few extra bells and whistles. 

Logitech Capture is a free tool that’s available on both Windows® 10+ and macOS® 10.14+ systems and works with Logitech webcams. It has features teachers and content creators alike love, including: 

  • Multi-source recording, which is perfect if you want to broadcast your face and an overhead document camera or slide deck
  • Live text overlays so you can add notes or captions on the fly
  • Camera customization settings so you can perfect your ideal set up and use it for every lesson
  • Studio controls so you can adjust your layout, apply transitions and more

You can still use Zoom or any other virtual learning software you use with Logitech Capture. Simply add Logitech Capture as your camera source to Zoom or whichever distance learning platform your school uses.

What's the best way to record lectures?

The best way to record lectures, at least in the age of distance learning, is with screen capture software. 

To record your lecture with Logitech Capture, start by launching the software and selecting your display source or sources. You can select up to two sources and can broadcast using one of five built-in templates. You can even bounce or transition between templates. 

For example, one source could be your Logitech BRIO while the other is the slide share deck you put together for the day’s lesson. You could set up your template so that your face is nested in the lower corner while the slide deck takes up the bulk of your screen. 

You can use a tool like Logitech Capture to share and record your screen along with your lesson.

Another example would be bouncing between two sources. That means you can queue up a video to go along with a lesson and seamlessly transition into it by changing the source. 

After you select your sources and template, you can click on the wand tool in the left-hand side bar to add a text overlay, adjust the font and color, change your default transition and more. Using titles during your lesson will make editing your videos easier, which we get into below. You can also use titles and text to display questions your students have, in case other students didn’t hear them or if the questions were dropped into a private chat.

Click the video camera icon to fine-tune your webcam settings, including setting it to landscape, portrait or square dimensions. You can also choose where to save your video once it’s recorded so you don’t have to dig around for it in a panic later.

After your settings are just the way you want them, you can open your distance learning software and select Logitech Capture as your camera source. Select the record button in Logitech Capture when your lesson starts. Consider recording your lecture in Zoom as well, so you can capture student questions as well as your lesson. It never hurts to have a backup recording! 

After your lesson, be sure to stop the recording and wait for it to save. Afterwards, we recommend running your video through a program like Descript to get a transcription of your lecture.

Advanced tips for editing videos

To record your lecture, technically all you need to do is press record in Zoom or Logitech Capture. But you might want to make a few edits before making the recording available to your students. 

Cutting out chit-chat

Chit-chat happens. And it’s not always a bad thing! Getting off-track every once in a while is a way to build rapport with your students and build trust. But it doesn’t always make for great video content. 

If you find yourself and your students chasing rabbits during a lesson, consider editing those parts out. After all, it won’t help them as much when it comes to rewatching the video later. 

Adding titles and timestamps

If you’re using Logitech Capture, you might already have added titles to the different parts of your lessons. Otherwise, doing so will probably help your students when they want to fast forward to a specific part of the lecture. If you’re feeling especially kind, you may even write down some timestamps for especially important parts of your lecture so that students can revisit those later. 

Basic audio editing

Even if you’re using a stellar microphone, you may find yourself with a little bit of room noise or uneven audio levels. Using tools to clean up noise, adding some compression and adjusting a few EQ levels can make your videos easier to watch and listen to later. Here are some pointers we wrote for podcasters to help them edit their audio that you might find helpful as well. 

Importing captions with Descript

Descript allows you to export captions into popular video editing software like Adobe Premiere.

Finally, you can add captions to your lecture recordings via easy-to-use tools like Descript. Descript can automatically transcribe your audio in minutes. You can then export subtitles to some of the most popular video editing software available, including Adobe Premiere Pro (which offers discounted plans to students and educators).

Before you hit record

Before you record your lectures for posterity, you might want to spend some time setting up your virtual classroom and your virtual background. The last thing you want is to give a stellar lecture only to realize you’re completely backlit! We also recommend reading into improving your audio quality for your online lessons, including reducing reflective surfaces and optimizing your microphone settings.