Now playing: My very own Salman Khan Style video tutorials

Well it’s taken me all day to get there, but I’ve managed to master what I think is the basics of being able to produce my own Khan Academy style video tutorials. Actually, they’re not exactly tutorials yet, that part will come later. They’re just quick discussions with me scribbling in the background.

Here’s Sal Khan. He’s my hero as he’s obviously working from home in his pajamas

Currently, I’m working on a Fast Track version of the qualification that I teach. This is called the NCALNE (Voc) which is the short form for the National Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (Vocational/Workplace). It’s not the world’s longest name for a qualification or even the worst, but it does come close.

Luckily, despite the name and acronym it’s a great qualification and it’s necessary to tutors and trainers in New Zealand to gain this qualification to prove that they have what I’ve started to promote as:

  • The baseline knowledge for embedding literacy and numeracy into trades and vocational training.

It’s pretty heady stuff I realize. What I wanted to write about was my process for doing the Khan Academy style videos. First of all, after some pondering I realized that I needed to get some very specific tools to do this kind of work. Here’s what I needed and subsequently bought over the last few months.

  1. Yeti Blue USB mic.This mic is the bomb. It looks like an old school radio mic, has multiple condenser patterns that you can select, runs off USB power and sounds great. Better still, I’m sure it makes my voice sound better than it actually is. I don’t have Sal’s deep mid-western accent going on so I need all the help I can get.

    Yeti Blue USB Mic
  2. Intuos 5 tablet (medium) and stylus.I thought about this for a long time. I’m a big iPad fan and I really did look for ways of making this whole deal work via my iPad. Turns out there are some work arounds, but not with the level of control and flexibility that I’ve got now. The biggest thing that stops me using my iPad here is screen capture software which I’ll talk about next. However, the Intuos tablet is very cool. It’s been another learning curve but I’m starting to see the benefits. I was going to go with one of the cheaper Wacom Bamboo tablets, but I got talked up to the Intuos by my designer who uses one extensively. The thing about the tablets is that the active area on the tablet is much smaller than the actual surface… so something to bear in mind. Probably, go for the largest size you can afford.

    Intuos 5 medium
  3. Corel Painter Sketch Pad. I’m still a bit indifferent about the software I’m using. The Intuos tablet came bundled with Corel Painter Sketch and Autodesk on a CD Rom. To be honest, I had enormous difficulty getting started with it. For one thing, my Macbook doesn’t have a CD drive. But the software just wouldn’t work and then finally it did. I can’t explain it. The Autodesk software wouldn’t open at all, so I can’t comment on it. I might still try it but I guess I’ll have to purchase it online. Much nicer if I had a download key rather than a stupid CD.
  4. Camtasia 2 screen capture software for Mac. I probably should have said above that I recently switched to Mac after using windows PCs since about 1990. There are various software companies selling screen capture software and I went with Camtasia because I read that this is what Sal Kahn uses. Although, he does use the PC version. You need the screen capture software to video record what you do and say while you’re drawing using the drawing programme. Pays to be ambidextrous I guess.

The other thing that I did is I created a generic background slide to draw on. I did this using Apple Keynote. My recordings today relate to the learning outcomes that candidates are assessed against when they submit evidence for the qualification. I wanted to have a short video with me talking about some of the main things they needed to supply. I think I’ve achieved it. However:

  1. Recording my voice makes me feel incredibly self conscious. But at least I’m not recording my face, although I might have to cross that bridge too.
  2. I’m not an artist so I constantly feel retarded when it comes to drawing anything on screen. Even holding the stylus makes me feel retarded.
  3. I’m trying to “shoot from the hip” Salman Kahn style, but I keep making mistakes. I’ll redo the video once for each section, but after that I’m just leaving the mistakes in. At this stage I don’t care. I’m conscious I just need to get something up and running.
  4. I’ve been procrastinating about doing this for months. It’s good to get started. But would you believe it…? I set everything up this morning, had coffee standing by and everything in order and then… The computer crashed, the printer wouldn’t print, and the internet keep going on and off so I couldn’t connect. Then when I finally did finish the first one (which is only 3 mins long) it took so long to render and upload to youtube that I thought I’d broken it. I didn’t manage to spill the coffee. That’s how I know that God was watching over me in spite of the gremlins in the machines.

    This was my set up this morning. Before every piece of hardware, software, and the internet failed
  5. I’m feeling a bit swamped with the multiple learning curves I’m experiencing. New computer (Mac), new software application (Camtasia 2) for new processes (video capture and audio recording, new hardware (Intuos tablet), to name a few.

I’m also still coming to grips with how to do the authoring using – another new learning curve. With the videos though it’s pretty straightforward. Basically, I export the video from Camtasia 2 directly to YouTube, then copy the HTML code from YouTube and paste it into the correct box in one of the learning steps in the Pathwright course builder.

It won’t make much sense if you’re not familiar with the training I do, but here’s today’s efforts pasted in below for any one who’s interested in it as an example. It’s not exactly world class just yet, but it’s a major milestone in terms of getting our course content online. Just click the blue hyperlinks below.

Section 1 – Section 2 – Section 3 – Section 4  – Section 5  – Section 6  – Section 7

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

2 thoughts

  1. Epic. Great post. I’ve been recording ten minute bites with no editing features. What a mission – if you screw something up you have to re-record the entire thing but it does create a nice relaxed natural quality. Its not scripted but its not completely khan style either. He is limited to 5 minutes by utube i think. Wimp. Ten minutes forces you to adlib. I’ve tried all sorts of cheap mics and they all make me sound terrible, wait a minute…
    I’m going to get the mic you recommend. I want to sound like James Earl Jones

  2. Thanks… The limit on YouTube is somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes, but I think people expect no more than about 3 minutes. Even a talk is no longer than 18 minutes. My plan is to go for shorter bursts, particularly as they could be downloaded into phones and other devices.

    The screen capture software takes forever to render the video during the upload so that’s another reason to keep it shorter. I think it is HD however. I think I can also punch in with the audio but haven’t experimented yet.

    Yeti mic just rocks… It will also plug directly into an iPad so you can record totally mobile to Garageband. I think it sucks a bit of power so a powered USB hub might be in order which would make in non-mobile again though.

    Send me the links if you’re uploading your stuff…!

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