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Best Software For Putting Lectures Online?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the taking-away-sick-day-as-an-excuse dept.


An anonymous reader writes "I'm trying to help a school put their classes online in the way most minimally invasive to the teachers. A few environmental considerations: They don't always have live internet in the classroom, or I'd just run to Skype. I'm hoping to make it as much one-touch start/stop as possible to start recording, stop recording, and upload to a server. I'd like to believe others here have already done something similar, so if a package or process worked for you, that would be great to hear. Not sure what if it's all PowerPoint lectures, or if they actually use a whiteboard, and if so what the best camera would be to use (on a school budget!)."

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tegrity (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38550798)

fits all the bills you mention

The best option (-1, Troll)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 2 years ago | (#38550814)

is to opt not to take part. Keep human interaction in teaching. We're headed to a dark ages in education otherwise.

Re:The best option (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38550910)

Oh please.

Re:The best option (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38553398)

Instead of saying "Oh please", why not provide elaborated rationale?

Re:The best option (1)

garaged (579941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38553704)

I have a Ph.D. But I started working a few years ago on an area that I never had any formal education (IT), and most likely do more money than what I would do with my diploma, so I would guess that traditional education is by no means something we should be caring too much, Im sure my case is not the most common, but surely here in .mx there are a lot of graduate people working on a completly different area.

My 2 cents, Im not the AC you replied to

Re:The best option (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38555028)

>>I have a Ph.D.

Let me guess - it wasn't in English right?

Re:The best option (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38555348)

Yeah. provide rationale to refute troll post. LOL.

Re:The best option (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38550928)

What are you talking about? Today, the poorest person in the US has access to more material than most rich people has access to 50 years ago. The explosion of information available through books, video, the internet is just amazing. I just got done with the Stanford AI course and am grateful for the opportunity to learn from some of the smartest minds in the field. But with your attitude, that was just a waste of resources.

Yes, there will always be a need for human interaction for learning... but that does not mean it is the only means of learning.

self learing / online leraing needs more respect (1, Troll)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38551206)

As having access to more material but when HR and others passover people who use the new stuff and go with people who use traditional college system.

Tech and voc schools still don't get the respect they should get.

Now this at worst may drop your school down to the University of Phoenix level.

Re:self learing / online leraing needs more respec (1, Funny)

sternmath (1055910) | more than 2 years ago | (#38551424)

curious: did you lear how to spell by yourself? or pehaps your writing is from an online leraing system?

at least firefox sell check gets learn right IE (1, Funny)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38551468)

at least firefox sell check gets learn right. Does IE even have a sell check?

Re:at least firefox sell check gets learn right IE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38552942)

"Does IE even have a sell check?"

No, but it does have a buy check.

Don't need to bring WGA into this (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38554128)

Does IE even have a sell check?

Does Windows Genuine Advantage count as a "sell check" to make sure Microsoft sold the user a copy of Windows?

Re:self learing / online leraing needs more respec (1)

Aighearach (97333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38554218)

My friend is a senior sysadmin at a University and doesn't have a degree.

Yeah, tech school isn't as good when it comes to breaking into your first technical job. But assuming you have over 2 years of experience, it is really a minor point.

University of Phoenix is a real University, it is well above vocational schools.

Re:self learing / online leraing needs more respec (2)

narcc (412956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38554488)

University of Phoenix is a real University, it is well above vocational schools.

They're regionally accredited (North Central), which is far better than many vocational/trade schools. (You'll find that many small tech schools only maintain state approval.)

While I don't know if their reputation is undeserved, they did suffer from quite a bit of unwarranted criticism just for being one of the first online-only correspondence schools. Needless to say, distance education has come a long way since then, at least as far as public opinion is concerned. Today, many traditional institutions offer a wide variety of distance-only degree programs.

Reputation aside, there are many other reasons to avoid University of Phoenix, the most obvious being their outrageous tuition which is higher than many traditional private colleges and universities.

Re:self learing / online leraing needs more respec (1)

Aighearach (97333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38555258)

University of Phoenix isn't online-only, although the correspondence parts are. They have campuses all over the place, presumably they have a lot of people taking the classes they have a harder time with at a campus, and the subjects they're more comfortable with online.

I can't really think even a single reason why correspondence over snail mail would be more trustworthy, or better in any way.

Re:The best option (5, Interesting)

bgoffe (1501287) | more than 2 years ago | (#38552294)

On human interaction in teaching (physics in college in fact), check out this 2.5 minute video: [] . A great study on how this leads to more learning than lecturing is this article from the journal Science: "Improved Learning in a Large Enrollment Physics Class" [] . Briefly, they compared 2 novice physics instructors who were trained in cognitive science (and thus how people learn) and who taught with a variety of non-lecture methods to an experienced, well-regarded lecturer. The students of the novice instructors had two standard deviations more learning. Note that the third author is a Nobel Laureate, U.S. Professor of the Year (given for teaching), and currently Deputy Science Adviser to the President for science education. For more on these methods, see "Don't Lecture Me," [] . This work deserves to be more widely known.

Re:The best option (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38555022)

Just make sure that it doesn't affect the lectures themselves. Normally, large portions of lectures are interactive. If the teachers know they're being recorded, and that the people watching can't interact, they're that much more likely to drop the interactive portion of their lessons.

I'm a Stanford student--a real, live, physical one that sits in classrooms--who has to absorb information from a stream of slides and speech, and I feel much worse off having had all of my lectures recorded.

So I guess my suggestion is, sure, have a recorded session. Just don't make the students who are in the classroom suffer by recording *their* session. Is it more work for the lecturers? Yes. Either hire more lecturers, or don't do this; trying to teach more students with the same number of teachers makes the quality of the education go down. It's a simple idea, but a lot of people don't realize it just the same.

Re:The best option (5, Insightful)

grommit (97148) | more than 2 years ago | (#38550942)

Putting classes online doesn't necessarily mean that the class is held online. I would have loved it if all of my classes had been archived online. It would free me to concentrate on what the professor was staying instead of concentrating on writing down notes as fast as possible. I could also go back to the lectures at a later time while studying for a test or even after I've finished the class and want to review a concept that is built upon in a class that follows.

Re:The best option (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38551452)

Then the lecture was too fast.

I know the problem, here they are also too fast. But being able to review the lecture video would raise expectations by the prof "you can always rewatch later" and make the lecture even faster still.

Re:The best option (1)

turkeyfish (950384) | more than 2 years ago | (#38553478)

These things could happen, but there is no reason a priori to assume that they will.

  I've found the online lectures dealing with multivariable calculus at both Berkeley and MIT extremely useful. It has allowed me to skip to specific sections, compare and contrast the salient points, and tie these into use of au xiliary texts with useful (to me at least) results, as well as search on line for Mathematica based code that implements the specific techniques.

Are there any open source alternatives to the Tegrity software? Looks nice, but cost is always a consideration.

Re:The best option (2)

awilden (110846) | more than 2 years ago | (#38551894)

I know what you're saying, but after a long time of both being a student and a teacher, I think there's a lot of value in actually taking notes, even if you never look at the ever again. In particular, I've consistently seen that students who record lectures perform more poorly than those taking notes. It's the whole Montessori thing -- the more senses that you can engage, the more likely you are to retain what you're being presented.

agreed (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38551948)

when I took notes, I felt I was more focused since I had to be in order to take notes.
laptop friendly professors helped - my handwriting usually isn't the greatest, but it gets even worse when I'm trying to write at lecture speed.

Re:agreed (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38552250)

lecture style teaching sucks. I get just as much or more from a recording (especially if well done and well produced) as from a live, non-interactive, lecture.

An interactive teaching style (e.g. Socratic) is a different beast.

Re:agreed (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38553452)

you do have a point about teaching styles. However, if it's classmates talking instead of the professor, I still can't neatly handwrite fast enough to keep up.

Re:The best option (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 2 years ago | (#38552446)

I almost never take notes unless the professor has designed his/her lecture to be note taking friendly. The reason I do not take notes is I have to concentrate on the writing/typing more than what the professor is teaching. I found that being engaged in the lecture is a better solution (for me). If the lectures were archived on line, I might be more apt to take notes because then I could go back and review my notes against what the professor taught in the lecture.

Re:The best option (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38553252)

Depending on the lecturers I actually found many to talk too slowly, be boring, go off on wild tangents and otherwise fail to engage my interest for 2 hours at a time.

In those classes I opted to not go and download the video after. The video I could skip through or in some cases play back at double speed. It worked really well and saved time in some classes which I considered to be a waste of time but none the less had to "attend" due to the lecturer every so often imparting some knowledge or working through some useful example that wasn't in the textbooks.

Re:The best option (1)

garaged (579941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38553712)

You did it the wrong way, I used to get all my attention to the teachers and if needed copy someone else's notes or even better read from the source books the teacher used for the lecture

Re:The best option (1)

Aighearach (97333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38554228)

Stanford has a huge amount of material online for free on itunes that is mostly in the form of recording a normal class. There is a full year of iPhone type stuff, lots of other computer topics, physics, etc.

Re:The best option (2)

adamdoyle (1665063) | more than 2 years ago | (#38551010)

I just now mentioned in another post that I once had a teacher who supplemented his regular lectures with a single weekly online lecture where he worked out homework problems for anyone who was having difficulty with the homework. (it was a type of calculus-based physics, so the answer wasn't always immediately obvious) I surely wouldn't want to convert all the lectures to an online-only format, but it was very nice having the option to "attend" the online instructor-led homework-help lecture if I had questions about any of the homework problems. If you had already finished the homework and didn't have any difficulty completing it, you didn't feel obligated to attend since it was an optional online session. Also, he archived the lecture so that, afterwards, we could go back and re-watch anything if we needed to.

Of course you could always send him an email, attend his office hours, or ask him in class, but it was still a nice alternative.

Re:The best option (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38551200)

Right! Next you know people will want to write things down in order to pass information around. That would be horrible! ;-)

Re:The best option (2)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38551434)

What human interaction? Human interaction has been dead in school for decades now, can't have it when the state gives you a lesson plan and expect you to not deviate when teaching forty students in a classroom.

Having someone monologue for 45 minutes in person or via video is the exact same thing. Except the video may have someone whose actually a half decent public speaker.

Then the teacher may actually have time to answer student questions instead of spending all his/her time monologing.

Re:The best option (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38551942)

Teachers are given the curriculum, not the lesson plans. Teachers wouldn't be complaining so much about the pay if they weren't being expected to do the lesson planning on their own time.

As for the lecturing, just because there's a class of 40 students doesn't mean that there's no room for individual attention, it just means that it's less frequent and much shorter. If you're lecturing for more than 10 minutes without any student interaction you're doing it wrong.

Re:The best option (1)

Aighearach (97333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38554254)

I always here this stuff about class sizes, but it brings me back to grade school... the school I went to had the largest class sizes in the district, and the highest test scores. I'd want more teachers to students than we had, but it is hardly the most important thing. I'd rate quality of information much higher, and having teachers smart enough to understand the material at a more advanced level than they are teaching.

Video can enhance human interaction (1)

LihTox (754597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38551548)

For a good student, video is a supplement to lecture, not a replacement for it. Instead of spending the entire class trying to write everything down that the professor says, the good student can sit back and think about what is being said, formulate qiestions on the spot, make notes about their reactions, and then go back after the class and fill in the details from the video. Video lectures are a lot like textbooks in this regard.

And if you ask "Why should anyone come to class if they can just watch the video?" Well, it's up to the professor to provide added benefit, by making the class interactive: lots of time for questions, group exercises, etc.

Re:tegrity (3, Informative)

adamdoyle (1665063) | more than 2 years ago | (#38550948)

A similar option is Adobe Connect. My Statics/Dynamics professor, in addition to the regular in-class lectures, had a Monday night online-only lecture where he had a headset microphone and a Fujitsu convertible tablet where, via live screen capture, he worked out homework/review problems on our screens and talked us through it. If we had questions, we would type it into the chat area and he would answer them through the microphone. I don't know how expensive it is, though. (I imagine it's not cheap)

Re:tegrity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38552052)

I believe Adobe Connect is Windows only (?)

Re:tegrity (2)

Rtarara (1806850) | more than 2 years ago | (#38553006)

I believe Adobe Connect is Windows only (?)

It's not. I can't vouch for Linux, but it works well on both Mac and PC. There are even phone apps available on Android, IOS and Blackberry.

Re:tegrity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38552958)

I work at an Australian University that specialises in online education and an increasing number of courses have moved to Adobe Connect for external tutorials and lectures. You basically share your screen or windows on the screen which could be a powerpoint slide or you can switch to a whiteboard which you can type or write on while speaking. You can enable audio for the students if they are attending rather than recording an empty session but they usually just type their questions which works well. It does place an additional burden on teaching staff but the students get a lot more out of the courses compared to static study guides and textbooks and we have seen improved student satisfaction and retention of students in the units I have been involved with. We use Wacom tablets for drawing and writing in tutorials but you can do the same with an Ipad sharing the screen to your pc using airsketch if you are willing to put up with the lag. The audio quality is much better using a headset compared to recording a speaker in the lecture theatre as well. There are some free options but we have found the Adobe Connect software to be very useful although it has some bugs.

Re:tegrity (1)

ResidentSourcerer (1011469) | more than 2 years ago | (#38556652)

I've got an online history course that I pickup on podcast. They are audio only, which presents minor problems. However:

* Every Um and Ah is included. I don't notice this in live conversation, but I find them very distracting.

* The author uses a fixed mike, so the volume level varies when he wanders.

* About every 5-10 minutes the classroom door slams as someone goes in or out.

* 3-4 minutes of every class is taken up with the kind of housekeeping that occurs in live classes. (Because of a dental appointment, my office hours are different this week... There will be a makeup exam for those of you out with the flu last week here on Friday. If you were here for the exam, you don't need to come.)

* The lectures were constantly making references to the text book, and were not a stand alone component.

Good online lectures should be reusable. In my view the minimum setup is:

1 camera at the back of the lecture hall focused on the speaker.
1 camera on any screen, whiteboard, chalkboard or map being used.
A wireless mike on the professor.

If the class is interactive, then a person with a parabolic mike to pick up whoever has the talking stick.

At least a preliminary edit to clip out the extraneous bits, clean up the sound and so on.

If there are written materials to accompany the lecture, they should also be online ideally.

If possible an audio only version should be prepared, with described video for illustrations. This isn't always practical. E.g. Math.

If questions from the audience don't come through the prof's mike, and you don't have separate miking for the class, then the professor has to repeat the question. It's also a good idea if he speaks the equations as he writes them as this can compensate for bad screen images, or sloppy handwriting.

YouTube was good enough for Randy (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38550808)

YouTube? It was good enough for Randy Pausch []

Re:YouTube was good enough for Randy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38550846)

Am I the only one who finds Randy Pausch not to be worth worshipping? Not to troll, I just find his message a bit too optimistic. Bummer he died, but that doesn't make his world view correct. If he didn't die I think a lot of people would have responded to him like "please excuse me while I gag." but that's too socially unacceptable.

Of course the best is... (1)

iCEBaLM (34905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38550812)

... Windows Movie Maker!

Re:Of course the best is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38550988)


Uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38550816)

Uh, Ever heard of youtube?

Re:Uh... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38550868)

Youtube worked for khan academy...

Re:Uh... (4, Informative)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 2 years ago | (#38552736)

Vastly under-rated, more insightful than it sounds.

You could set up your own video server and use VLC to deal with the streaming or whatever, but frankly YouTube is the way to go. Zero fees for your bandwidth (hell, they PAY you if you're popular enough!), and there's enough "YouTube Ready!" basic camcorders which come with very basic but easy to use software that you can get very close to "start, stop, upload". Frankly, if somebody isn't able to take a single video file and upload it to YouTube then they shouldn't be lecturing on anything, to anyone.

There's a multi-billion dollar infrastructure there for free. Use it!

Youtube. (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 2 years ago | (#38550882)

What's wrong with youtube?

Re:Youtube. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38550918)

time limits instated by youtube wouldn't allow for an entire lecture?

Re:Youtube. (5, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38550950)

If you "verify" your YouTube account with a mobile phone, they remove the length limits (which are otherwise 15 mins), though there's still some sort of (quite high) filesize limit. That's why it's possible for there to be things like 100 hours of Nyan Cat.

Why do slides/whiteboard matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38550890)

Just make sure the camera is pointed at where the slides/whiteboard will show up, and is in good focus. Basically like the viewer is sitting in one of the desks.

Re:Why do slides/whiteboard matter? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 2 years ago | (#38553910)

Because cameras have poor resolution, and showing the lecturer and slide in the same frame makes the slide illegible, while simultaneously making the lecturer's facial expressions and nuances also illegible?

Also, there are usually exposure problems given the limited dynamic range of cameras, so the slides typically end up being way over-exposed.

Matterhorn or Camtasia Relay (5, Informative)

grommit (97148) | more than 2 years ago | (#38550894)

If you're looking for something that won't have a direct cost to the school district to implement, take a look at Matterhorn ( [] ). Camtasia Relay by Techsmith is also a product built for this purpose.

Online Lectures (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38550902)

The Open University uses something called 'Elluminate' it's fairly low badwidth though and fairly sure it needs an internet connection. You could always go proper oldskool and knock up a few multimedia CD-ROMs using Dreamweaver or whatever.

If you're just going to be speaking then a movie is fine but some of the other options would enable them not to have their face plastered all over it if they preferred.

Windows Media Encoder 9 (3, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38550904)

Seriously, it is older and not supported anymore, but still works on modern OSes fine. Has a screen capture mode that works great. You start it and it just captures what happens on the screen until you hit stop. Very easy to use. Additionally, it has a codec called Windows Media Screen which uses compression well suited to static computer images. You can get a whole hour long lecture in like 30MB if space is a concern.

You just have the instructor wear a mic that feeds in to the computer's input (if the room has sound reinforcement just split off a feed from that) and students get all their slides and what they were saying while they did it. Means they can run programs too and demo that.

For easiest results, record in regular Windows Media format, which takes up way more space, but you can upload that right to Youtube. If you let them know what you are doing they'll let you have longer videos.

In terms of recording whiteboards and so on, I don't know of anything both easy and cheap. An AVCHD cam does a great job, but you usually need to spend a little time in a video editor afterwards. There are some high end capture solutions, but as the term "high end" implies, you don't really want to know what they cost.

Re:Windows Media Encoder 9 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38551722)

Yeah go ahead and ignore the fact that VLC does the same but better :)

It really does.

Please don't use Windows only formats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38551872)

Please, please don't use Windows only formats. Lots of students have macs, and iPhones, and iPads, and AndroidPhones.

Going Windows only may be fine in a corporate setting, but not for students in a school setting.

Re:Windows Media Encoder 9 (0)

nzac (1822298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38552006)

Seriously, it is older and not supported anymore, but still works on modern OSes fine. Has a screen capture mode that works great.

So it works until you don't have access to VLC, on your portable device or computer without admin access.

WMP is something most users want to avoid either because its bloated and generally incompatible or its not iTunes. Having a file that will open with WMP by default is just not a nice thing to do.

Disclaimer: I have never forgiven a Vista version of WMP for grabbing 1.5GB of ram because I accidentally opened it (this was somewhat repeatable). Win 7 provided the solution by allowing me to uninstall it.

Re:Windows Media Encoder 9 (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38552206)

Well I'm assuming here that this guy asking is a tech for the university and so can, you know, maybe do his job and install and configure the thing. Also I'm talking about acquisition. You can distribute it in a different format. I know, I know, anything MS is so evil. Deal with it, he asked for a tool that does the job well, this does. We actually use it for this purpose at the university I work at. Professors run a profile we've set up, record their lecture, and can post it online. It is also free, which can be a requirement for universities sometimes given that budgets have been under serious attack (we've had ours cut by about 10% per year for the last 4 years or so).

When you want to acquire an entire screen, WMP9 does the trick. Also, as I noted and somehow you ignored, Youtube likes WMP files. Record that, upload it to Youtube, done. Easy as can be.

Re:Windows Media Encoder 9 (0)

nzac (1822298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38552842)

I know, I know, anything MS is so evil. Deal with it, he asked for a tool that does the job well, this does.

No a lot of things MS are crappy, not evil, this is partially to do with WMP needing to be a .NET example (it would not be a good endorsement if it was a native C++ application).*

MS products work and depending on your definition work well but they are always preform like crap and are designed to make it frustrating to use outside of windows.
I would expect that open-source, apple and for a fee third party windows devs will have better solutions that are still supported.

*For music i consider 45MB to be required amount of memory for a player (10 more than a light weight GTK Player) this also implies that it has a fast start up. Video not needing to run the background can use more but still does not need more than 100MB (mplayer uses less than 50).

Re:Windows Media Encoder 9 (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38553334)

Well then, perhaps you'd like to suggest something that you've used for this purpose. Something that will easily capture the entire screen's output and audio input, in to a format that is readily usable for things like uploading to Youtube or feeding to an NLE.

If you have such a thing then by all means, suggest away. However given that all you've done is bitch about WMP (and not WME, which is a different program by the way) I'm guessing you don't.

Please understand I'm not talking theoretically here. I work for a university, part of my job is media, and I've used WME9 to capture lectures. The professors like it because it is easy to use (they just run the profile I give them and hit go) and it generates a file that we can host on the web directly if we want, upload to Youtube, convert to something else, whatever. It is simple and low effort.

Sure it would be nice to roll out our video cameras and mic and do a professional recording job, then edit it all down on the NLE each time. However we haven't the time for that, only special things are done like that. They aren't willing to fiddle around with a bunch of extra equipment for every lecture either.

This gives them a way to record everything, if they choose (a couple like to) and post it online with minimal effort.

That's why I'm suggesting it. Because I have seen it work, many times. If you have an alternate suggestion that you've actually tried then I'm sure the person who asked the question would love to hear it. I would too, in fact, I'm always up for new technology.

However just complaining that you don't like WMP is silly.

Re:Windows Media Encoder 9 (0)

nzac (1822298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38554186)

I'm not suggesting it does not work, it just a crappy solution to the end user especially your non windows students. If you have it working its all good but you are suggesting that someone should start with an unsupported product using a codec that is most likely going to need to need VLC for those without windows or force them to use WMP. Do your students like the solution or do they every have trouble playing it? How does it work for lectures with MacBooks?

If you need IT setup (you gave them a profile and a quick tutorial i'm guessing) then you could use any slide program and script everything from there. Yes youtube supports the format like most other common ones, you could transcode directly to WebM (common encoder profile these days) or some iPod supported one and that would also be able to be uploaded.

Though the non free solutions are at the top, google "slidecast" or "slidecapture", no i can't test them but they promise the same features as your solution. I would chose something with web browser support as that would be by far the most convenient for students this most likely mean using flash or java still i think.

Re:Windows Media Encoder 9 (0)

narcc (412956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38554784)

How does it work for lectures with MacBooks?

Why should the university cater to them? They make up such a small portion of the personal computer market, they're not really worth taking the extra time to support. Should instructors go out of their way to accommodate Linux users? How about JNode or KolibriOS users? Get real.

It's the student's responsibility to make sure that they have access to required resources, be they text books or software, not that of the university.

Besides, it's not like students can't make use of the computer access provided by the institution if they insist on using some obscure operating system on their personal equipment.

Re:Windows Media Encoder 9 (1)

nzac (1822298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38555126)

That probably explains the difference my Uni was not completely sold out to MS. Ours was 20 about percent MacBooks students and staff. Seriously how can you think Macs an obscure OS at Universities. WMV probably has less market share for public videos than Macs do as desktops.

What university are you at where Apple has no market share some departments must have 1 in 5 students wanting to use macs.

Re:Windows Media Encoder 9 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38553754)

Um. WMP is not a .net application. Just because an application needs a specific version of the .net framework does not mean the entire thing is done in managed code.

Some AAA games ship requiring a specific .net library for christ sake. It's obvious they aren't managed programs.

adobe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38550912)

Maybe you can use Adobe Captivate,
Its easy use, can be flexible solution for your aim

if net access is not relaible then.. (3, Informative)

s0litaire (1205168) | more than 2 years ago | (#38550920)

As a starting point, make the actual videos downloadable or on DVD with a "quiz" style menu.

Check out the Stanford On-line courses. [] That's probably about the style you're looking for.

Course Lectures split in to blocks of 10-15 mins each, with a small True/False or Multi-Choice quiz at the end. (you can do this with DVD's it just takes a bit of planning with the menus when authoring the DVD.)
All supported by PDF of Teacher & Student lecture notes and examples on a single DVD.


Re:if net access is not relaible then.. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38552190)

I took the Stanford database course and I was impressed by the content, length, pace, and it's availability to all of the 93,000+ people who signed up. I haven't taken a true academic course for over 45 years and I was truly impressed with what appears to be the next wave of educational presentation.

IP surveilance software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38550966)

Surveilance monitoring software could work well for that, easy to start/stop recording, easy to remote access recorded videos...

Generic online learning (1, Redundant)

IntentionalStance (1197099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38551016)

For a more general purpose online learning platform Moodle is certainly worth looking into. I haven't used it in anger for a few years now but it appears to be active.

moodle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38551150)

moodle derp

Ultrabook Notebook Tipis Harga Murah Terbaik (0)

Jhon82 (2543136) | more than 2 years ago | (#38551152)

Great post, I conceive website owners should larn a lot from this website its very user pleasant. Ultrabook Notebook Tipis Harga Murah Terbaik []

Define your needs first (5, Informative)

ttocs_47 (610926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38551184)

It is important to consider what you want in these online classes.
  • 1) Are you looking to make a course accessible after the fact, or do you want to do distance learning (which is what it sounds like when you say "I'd just run Skype") where interaction is possible?
  • 2) What types of courses are you making available? For example, some courses only need to a single camera on the teacher, other courses will need both teacher and/or power-point simultaneously, yet others will need video, chalkboard or whiteboard, and teacher, and others will also need the audience. Note also that some disciplines (math especially) use a lot of chalkboard, so you may need multiple cameras.

These are nontrivial considerations, and often overlooked. I've been recording my calculus lectures at my university (Stony Brook), which has Echo360. Unfortunately, our setup is (a) expensive, and (b) useless for my discipline (mathematics), because it cannot capture 16 feet of blackboard in a way that can be read later, especially if you also sometimes use a data projector (which I do). It works fine for power-point oriented lectures, but you can't do mathematics properly via power point, because students need to see the problems being worked, and need to refer to the beginning of the problem (so it doesn't fit on a single slide).

What has worked for me is to set up a pair of HD cameras in the back of the room, pointed so each can see (part of) the blackboard. Then I post-process this into a single video stream later. If I am using a data projector, I also grab the stream from Echo360. (I've also made multiple synchronized streams on a web-page using JWplayer, but this doesn't work as well)
Unfortunately, this is not a turn-key solution.

Something like matterhorn might be helpful too, but you really need consider all of the content needs before deciding on a delivery mechanism.

Re:Define your needs first (2)

FuzzyHead (86261) | more than 2 years ago | (#38552318)

I've help some speakers record at a local place. We use one camera for recording straight into a laptop in HD. I ask for a copy of the power points on a thumb drive. Normally, I export the power points into PNG files. Then I can edit the whole thing in Sony Vegas overlaying the slides. It's more labor intensive than a set and forget solution, but it doesn't take that much work and I can typically edit the final video in less time that it took to record everything.

Re:Define your needs first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38554416)

I agree that the needs of the class dictate what works best. I use a still camera, a gimp script, an MP3 recorder with Rockbox and a modified version of Photoframe to put my notes on the web. See them at

They work well for my teaching style. I'm happy to share, if anyone wants a similar setup.


Guaranteed to suck done that way (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38551190)

"I'm trying to help a school put their classes online in the way most minimally invasive to the teachers." That guarantees a worthless product.

Recorded lectures aren't that great to begin with. On top of that, most of the useful content is on the board or the slides, so you want a format which emphasizes them, not the speaker. A fixed wide-angle shot of the front of the room is almost useless.

One little trick Stanford used for years was having presenters write on a paper pad, which was picked up by an overhead camera and projected to the students as well as being recorded. The pad was only 5" x 7", so that the instructor couldn't overfill a single page with more text than would survive mediocre analog TV.

Re:Guaranteed to suck done that way (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38551312)

Recorded lectures aren't that great to begin with. On top of that, most of the useful content is on the board or the slides, so you want a format which emphasizes them, not the speaker. A fixed wide-angle shot of the front of the room is almost useless.

Exactly this. Our curriculum has included a particular lecture series for years. And, for the first several years, the faculty in charge of this series just offloaded the recording duties to random grad students... and provided us with several years of basically worthless video. Additionally several of them used a Microsoft piece of crapware that only worked in Internet Explorer and required all sorts of ActiveX plugins to allow the video to be watched... some sort of "MS Office" plugin that purported to run a Powerpoint slideshow alongside the crap video on the web page - and, even on IE, it basically looked like a stoned junior high student had set up the web page.

When the faculty in charge of the series finally changed, we were eventually able to convince him to switch to paying for a basic recording service by people who knew what they're doing. The end product is nothing fancy, but a) they position the cameras correctly and also do make sure the lighting is such so you can actually see the lecturers; and b) they take a copy of the lecturer's slides (Powerpoint, Keynote, whatever) and insert them full-screen into the video at the correct spots.

Re:Guaranteed to suck done that way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38555368)

Disagree. The best lectures I've ever seen were recorded ones. If you are a good trainer, you can make a high quality presentation without any slides.

Presto is good (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38551228)

I use some syncing software by these guys at Singular software. They have something called Presto that is a 1 touch solution for creating easy to watch lectures. It assumes these lectures have slides or a powerpoint and you plug those files in and it lays them over the video of the projection to get a cleaner picture.
It also tracks the face and does other cool stuff

I'm waiting for it to come out for the PC



Techsmith Relay / Camtasia (4, Informative)

quetwo (1203948) | more than 2 years ago | (#38551274)

At Michigan State University, we have a Techsmith Relay server. The instructor just puts in the USB thumb drive, the auto-run runs, and they just have to type in their lecture's name and hit "Start". It is recorded to the USB or automatically uploaded to our capturing server if they are on the network. It can automatically be pushed out to our LMS (Angel / Moodle), or posted on a webpage for people to access. Works on both Win and Mac, and doesn't need anything installed, which is super-nice.

I've recorded a LOT of sessions with Camtasia as well. Great product, with tons of bells and whistles, but it does require the user to do the work of editing and encoding. That's great for me (I can edit it before I post), but not great for people who just want it to get out of their way. []

Re:Techsmith Relay / Camtasia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38551316)

I taught an online course this past semester and recorded 74 mini lectures (4-8 minutes usually) using Relay. I love the product!

Apple's Podcast Publisher and Podcast Library (2)

plsuh (129598) | more than 2 years ago | (#38551300)

This is exactly the design scenario for Podcast Publisher and Podcast Library. []

While it can take advantage of a whole cluster of servers, it can also run (albeit more slowly) on a single Core i7 Mini Server. For more detailed docs, see: []

It's in use at lots of universities and some K-12 schools.

Hope this helps.


Stanford's Media Flow and OpenCast Matterhorn (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38551302)

I haven't used ether of these, but Stanford has most of their openflow system opensourced it appears:

Or take a look at OpenCast's Matterhorn Project:

Re:Stanford's Media Flow and OpenCast Matterhorn (1)

turkeyfish (950384) | more than 2 years ago | (#38553694)

OpenCast Matterhorn looks great and I've checkout the site.

Unfortunately, I can't seem to find good documentation of how to run under Windows 7, without "3rd party software tools" (which sort of defeat the purpose of Open Source). However, I find myself doing a lot of development and work in Windows so that I can interface a number programs that don't easily run under Linux and despite my love of Linux, find this quicker than developing under Linux, which I don't have running at the moment.

Has anyone run Matterhorn under Windows 7 and would you be willing to share pointers to how you got it installed? Google search not all that informative for someone with insufficient time to wade through the various trials and tribulations.

Thanks in advance and to the original poster for drawing my attention to the entire issue of online lecture development/capture software.

ftp (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | more than 2 years ago | (#38551364)

nuff said.

There's really no need to overcomplicate things (1)

sdavid (556770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38551368)

When I've felt the need to provide audio recordings of my lectures, I simply record them with a pocket voice recorder that records directly to mp3 and mounts as a usb drive. My recorder is a Sony, but there are many on the market that are as good or better. From there it's easy to post them on Blackboard, Moodle, WebCT, or whatever courseware the teachers are using. When we do video, that's generally more of a production involving IT people and a different hosting server, but for audio a very simple approach seems to be the best.

iTunes University (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38551402)

Have you looked at adding courses via iTunes University? It's pretty easy to get up and running, and a lot of universities use it for internal (private) courses.

Camera choice (1)

Ayourk (1125735) | more than 2 years ago | (#38551686)

If you do plan on going the camera route, you may want to take a look at and look through his camera reviews. Based on his info, I went and got the Logitech Webcam Pro 9000. [Part No. 960-000048] Google the Part number if you are serious about getting one or more of them. The price is pretty good for them right now (under $50 with an average price of $75).

Moodle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38551760)

It was what the uni I went to used (albeit bastardised beyond recognition), the uni here uses it and best of all, it's free. On top of this, my mum does some lecturing and has learned how to use it without a problem, despite quite possibly being one of the most tech illiterate people on the planet.

Non-lecture classes? (2)

jim_deane (63059) | more than 2 years ago | (#38551816)

Also consider what to do for classes that do not use lecture much if at all. Many modern science classrooms use other methods, such as Modeling Physics [http] . If you were to video my classroom, you would need to be prepared to video student whiteboard sessions, lab demonstrations and discussion sessions, experimental design, experiments, data analysis, lab whiteboard discussions, and extensions such as worksheets, challenge problems, computer simulations and programming.

I think you would need a live videographer to properly record something like my class in any sort of useful way.

Vbrick (3, Interesting)

Jjeff1 (636051) | more than 2 years ago | (#38551928)

I've worked with schools for years, and can point out some things that may help. First, if the school is in a poorer area, check out your E-Rate eligibility. In some cases, you can pay 10 cents on the dollar for technology. Among the eligible technology would be video streaming, such as vbrick.
The vbrick units are highly scriptable, and you can ( and I have ) programmed them to do as follows:
- user hits the button, as in a physical button on their desk or the wall or whatever
- system records for x minutes
- system uploads video to VOD server
- VOD publishes video to public web server

Yes, you can even have an "on-air" light turn on when the system is recording.
Later on, you can add tags or other information on which people can search your content. You can attach documents, or links to other web-based content. So your video of a lesson has the associated homework, plus link to your states' DOE standards web site or whatever else you want. It can be integrated with moodle or similar systems. You can limit access to video by username/password and/or by IP address. If you want, videos recorded in the high school can be limited to specific users and/or IPs, so lets say the 2nd graders can't watch the sex-ed class. Likewise, you can limit videos on the public internet to your low bit-rate content only.
The critical part here is ease of use. Teachers are asked to do more and more with no new resources. If your solution consists of login to this, click that, then this, etc.... it simply won't get used except maybe by a couple tech-savvy teachers. Of course when those people leave or change positions, your project dies. Then your well intentioned project becomes just another expensive boondoggle. In some ways, spending MORE on a project will guarantee success. Administration may let a 10K project disappear, but probably not a 100K project.

Check out Panopto (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38551964) we use this at our institution, if you use an LMS like moodle it can integrate as well.

Use h/w lecture recorder? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38552494)

I work for this company.

HTML (1)

netcruiser (1645001) | more than 2 years ago | (#38552924)

HTML is the way to go for the web. It allows hyperlinks and such fancy stuff.

Echo360 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38553500)

We use Echo360

camtasia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38554052)

my school uses camtasia paired and adobe connect as a backup source.

Why Software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38554100)

There are some great hardware products that do lecture capture, like the encoders from NCast.

Perhaps a rethinking is called for? (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 2 years ago | (#38554558)

You absolutely need to check out the Khan Academy [] . Besides a very comprehensive grade school curriculum, the site has tools to support a teacher in finding out what students know and where they are having difficulty, so they can concentrate on helping a student where they need it most. As well, the Khan Academy has opened up public tutoring to give students the special support they need from people who've volunteered to teach. This is an amazing site and an incredible resource.

Need a live cameraman (1)

stevelinton (4044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38554964)

Unless the lecturers are willing to change their style quite a bit I don't think you'll do well without a cameraman in the room.
In my experience lecturers move around quite a lot, and sometimes you need to pull back to get their body language, at other times you need to zoom
in on the black- or white-board to see what they are writing or pointing at.

Don't waste storage or bandwidth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38556600)

Putting "afterthought" classroom material online is a waste of storage and bandwidth. With legal requirements to make things accessible, and given the cost to deliver this content - at least find faculty who have engaging content that's been optimized for online delivery. One instructor's crappy PPT lecture on articulations is no better than the hundreds already out there.

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