The development of MOOC video content

With only a few months’ left until the launch of the first University of Southampton full Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) with Future Learn, there is a buzz of excitement as the ELIP team prepares for the capture of the course contents video. CITE’s commitment to deliver 3 full MOOCs starting in November 2013 meant that the ELIP team of 3 multimedia developers are now busier than ever.

The demand for the production of these videos within a short time span meant rethinking the production process that would normally be adopted for high quality customised production to a more streamlined procedural process.

The History of Distance Education

The world’s first distance learning course was formed in Boston in 1728 and the lessons were sent via mail and by 1925 colleges and universities were granted radio broadcasting licenses to deliver courses. The popularity of distance learning has not waned since the 1700’s and due to advance technologies; online courses as they are now known are more popular than ever.

Presentation style

Justin Steel-Davies, ELIP team manager, had already developed a method to quickly record academic course delivery using very minimal and basic equipment; Camtasia software, a video camera and audio microphone. This process involved a camera operator filming the academic in front of a plain background; the academic would present his tutorial using his Power Point as a visual aid, as they are talking they are able to interact with the audience using an electronic pen to highlight and illustrate important points. The Power Point interactivity is screen captured on Camtasia and synced up with the audio and film footage of the talking head to produce the final video.  

camtasia course delivery A sample course delivery

This presentation style is quite personal and informal as the presenter is talking and interacting with the viewer as if they were teaching in a classroom setting. The emphasis is focused more on the Power Point slides than the presenter but because the presenter interacts with each slide, there is a definite cohesion in the composition between the slide and the presenter. The menu bar on the left hand side allows the user to jump/revisit slides quickly.

A more formal looking style has also been tested by ELIP team; these tests were carried out for the following reasons:

  1. To test the autocue/teleprompter equipment recently purchased.
  2. To determine a procedural process so that videos can be produced in a more economical and streamlined fashion.

An autocue/teleprompter was recently purchased as an aid to help academics who are not used to presenting in front of a camera. The teleprompter simultaneously acted as a camera disguised as a prompter; the presenter looking into the camera would see an image of the interviewee. The teleprompter encouraged the presenter’s eye line to be more direct into the camera and would relax the presenter into thinking that they were talking to another person rather than to a camera lens.

Alex image Alex presentation

justin image Justin presentation

The tests were filmed with a green screen backdrop; the green background was removed and replaced with an appropriate image at editing stage along with the Power Point slides.

This is a more formal approach with the presenter delivering the course in a “news presenter” style. In this style of presentation, the emphasis is more on the presenter with the Power Point slide as a secondary point of interest. The Power Point can still be made interactive by adding graphics to highlight important points, but this should be more formal graphics to match the overall style.

The overall time taken to produced Alex and Justin type of presentation took 3 hours from start to finish product, there were no set up time for this type of production because the kit was already set up in a studio.


Filming Justin Steele-Davies using Autocue/teleprompter


Presenter’s point of view

We also recently trialled some recording on location using a two camera set up with a natural looking background. Using this method meant we were back peddling to our traditional method of recording and therefore not saving time or money as we initially set out to do. The time taken to produce this type of course delivery involved the transportation of camera equipment and set up time (4 people at 1 hour each), duel camera editing and manually placing the Power Points slides at appropriate points as the presenters were not using the slides as a visual aid.


Recording on location using two cameras set up with teleprompter

natural bg 1 natural bg 2 

camera views 1 & 2

Overall, there are lots of different styles for delivering online courses. Although technology has enabled online learning to be more readily available and flexible, it could also be considered as a hindrance to learning simply by over complicating the way courses are presented. So what determines a good presentation style and does it affect the way people learn and engage when taking online courses?

If you see any good online course delivery, please feel free to email us the links. Your comment and feedback on this subject would be greatly appreciated.  


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One Response to The development of MOOC video content

  1. Great post Mimi, really interesting to see how you’re putting together the videos for MOOCs.

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