This Could Have Been an Email - Teaching Edition

I have two pet peeves in this world: people wasting my time and me wasting other peoples time. I recently realized that I've been wasting my students' time and my time by creating videos that could be Blackboard announcements. I've decided to stop making as many videos and focus on other ways of connecting with students.

During my online teaching professional development, I was taught to use introduction videos to help students start to form a connection with their instructor. Of course, I can't stop with just one video. I have to make a video for each week of the course. Since I'm terrible on camera, these videos take longer to make than is reasonable. Also, no one watches the videos after the second week of the semester.

To try to maintain some personal connection, I plan to record the weekly posts as an audio file and upload it next to the script. That way students can choose either option. This also covers my bases for accessibility. Because audio files are easier to edit and looking good on camera isn't an issue, the whole process goes faster.

A welcome message for Liberal Arts Mathematics. There is an audio file player above the written text.
Student view of a finished welcome message.

Also, it is possible to use the recording process to create videos as well. It works pretty well to solve a problem and scan each step in the process. I can create PowerPoints with the scans and other text and then save the whole thing as a series of images. A video editing program can assemble the images with the narration. It is possible to do this entire process in PowerPoint, but I like to edit the audio first. This post from the Audacity wiki shows exactly how I edit my audio.

Long term, I'd like to assemble all of the audio recordings into a single file for students to download. This is an idea I picked up from Michael Wesch. It may not work as well with math as it does with anthropology, but that's a problem for later.

Since my perfectionist tendencies have to be appeased somehow, I decided to build a recording area in my messy garage. With $45 worth of PVC pipe and Harbor Freight moving blankets, I managed to pull something together. There is a frame built out the PVC pipe and some fittings. The blankets are clamped to the frame. It's not professional quality, but a little effort goes a long way.

Two shelves hold some moving blankets.
I can fit myself, a microphone, and a recorder in there.

A piece of lumber holds up a PVC pipe frame. A moving blanket is clamped to the frame
Close-up of the frame and blankets.

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