How to easily record video of your classes online (step-by-step)

Ed Tech

Ed Tech | Thursday, January 15, 2015

How to easily record video of your classes online (step-by-step)

Using Google Hangouts on Air can enable teachers to create an online repository of videos of their classes. Students can watch them as needed.

Using Google Hangouts on Air can enable teachers to create an online repository of videos of their classes. Students can watch them as needed.

The walls that kept classes from learning together are slowly starting to topple.

In the past, students were often confined to the classes they could take on campus. Teachers were often confined to teaching students face-to-face.

Now, with video options like Google Hangouts and Skype, teachers and students can meet with each other — or practically anyone else — around the globe that has the basic technology needs.

In my own classroom, I’ve found that Google Hangouts On Air — Google’s live video broadcast option — can help me record video of my classes and have it ready for students to watch in minutes.

Here are the steps that I take to record video of my class and make it available to my students. The process literally takes just a few minutes to set up (easily accomplished during a break between classes) and the video sharing is done in a few minutes as well.

1. Identify a Google account that you want to use to share videos to your class. I decided to create a new Google account for sharing these videos because I didn’t want to share them using my personal account. Plus, my school account had some features blocked that I couldn’t get around.

2. Once you’ve logged in to that account in Google, go to the Hangouts On Air page. Click the blue “Start a Hangout On Air” button.

name hoa

The box you can use to name your Hangout.

3. In the box that appears, type a title for the Hangout (I usually include the date and the class I’m recording) and a description (I try to include a couple details of what we’ll be covering in the class). Under “Starts,” you’ll want to leave “Now” selected. Under “Audience,” I always select “Your circles.” I do that so that my class isn’t broadcast publicly. (You know, so I don’t run the risk of having someone I don’t know stumble into the video of my class.) Then click “Share.”

Note — The first time you do this, you’ll have to connect your Google Plus account with a YouTube account. It gives you a link to make that connection and it walks you through the entire process.

The Hangout On Air event page.

The Hangout On Air event page.

4. You’ll be taken to the event page for your Hangout On Air. You can enable some settings, like a Q&A for taking questions from the audience or the applause feature that lets the audience encourage you with clapping. You can also select a video to add as a trailer. Once you’re ready to start your Hangout On Air, click “Start.” (If you have a webcam that you need to connect to a computer, it would be good to connect it before moving on to the next step.)

5. Once you’re in the Hangout, click the “Start Broadcast” button when you’re ready to go live and start recording. You can record up to eight hours in one Hangout. (But, for the sake of your students, please don’t!) Click the “Stop broadcast” button when your video is done. Then click the red phone to end the Hangout.

With the Chromebook that I use to record class, I place it about three or four feet in front of where I’ll be teaching on a stool. It’s far enough away to see everything that I’ll be writing on the board (or displaying with a projector) but close enough that the microphone will pick up everything I say. (Device cameras and microphones will vary, of course, so you’ll probably want to do a test run beforehand.) When you’re in the Hangout, just watch your live video that’s being displayed to see how much adjusting you need to do to position the camera just right.

Note — While the Hangout is live, there’s a button in the bottom right that provides links. Those links allow people to join your broadcast and watch your class live. A student who is home ill or any other guest that wants to watch class remotely could be given a link and could take part in class as it happens!

6. When the Hangout is completed, the video from it is automatically uploaded to your YouTube channel and you’re returned to the event page. To get a link to the video, I usually click the play button on the event page. While it’s loading, there’s a YouTube logo in the bottom right. I click that to be taken to the video’s YouTube page. I just copy the link from the browser there. (There might be easier ways to do this, but this way works for me!)

7. After copying the link to the video, I just paste that link on my class website. You could also embed the video on your class website by clicking the “Share” tab on the YouTube video page and copying the embed code. (What??? You don’t have a class website? Here are some great ideas to jump start one of your own.)

Imagine the possibilities of recording your classes and having video of them available for use! Students who miss class can catch up by watching the videos, or they can watch again to make sure they didn’t miss anything. Being able to pause and rewind the teacher can be a great advantage.

In Indiana, when school is cancelled for poor winter weather, some schools have “eLearning days” where students do their work from home digitally. Recording a video with Hangouts On Air to be viewed live or watched later could be a perfect fit!

Teachers can use the videos as a reference for what they did in previous classes — or in previous years — to help with planning. Plus, teachers could share videos with each other to show their best lessons and activities. Everyone wins!

[reminder]Do you think having video recordings of your classes would help? What would be great about using Hangouts On Air in this way? Do you have any reservations?[/reminder]

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  • Margie says:

    Does this mean that something I’d only want for my students is now public on YouTube for anyone to see?

  • […] How to easily record video of your classes online (step-by-step) | Ditch That Textbook […]

  • Wendy Fete says:

    I think that this is a great idea however not all of my students have access to the Internet or a computer. Even the computers at the library will not work for them because it is too dangerous for them to walk there because of the neighborhood. I do however like this idea and would like to make it available to student who do have access.

  • Joe Marquez says:

    “Mr Educator, TEAR Down Your Walls!” Great post Matt. You know my passion on this subject and glad you are fighting the good fight.

  • Tim H says:

    Matt: good stuff. The article might have guided readers through some of the logistics of where to place the webcam/laptop, etc.

    • Matt Miller says:

      Good thought, Tim. I’ve updated it with some specifics of where I place the Chromebook I use to record as well as some tips on when to connect the webcam and how to adjust the camera. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Jess P says:

    Don’t forget that before you can do all this, 1st timers need to go into their YouTube accounts and enable live-streaming and longer videos. The GHOA will prompt you to verify your account before you can start your GHOA; however it can be a bit confusing for folks who are new to YouTube or GHOA.

    • Matt Miller says:

      Right! When you try to share that Hangout On Air, it will provide a link to click on to go through the process. I’ve done it a couple times, and it asks to verify identity with a code via phone call or text message. Then, when you go back to the Hangout, if everything is set up properly, you can proceed. (There are times when I’ve had to restart my Hangout after this process to continue.) Thanks, Jess!

  • Matt,

    I have been playing around with this and trying to get better quality sound. Do you use an external mic or does the mic in your device pick up well enough for you?


    • Matt Miller says:

      Nancy — My Dell Chromebooks do a nice job of picking up my voice from about four feet away, so that’s what I use. If one’s device didn’t pick up audio very well, I’m not sure which direction I would turn … buying a lapel mic or a wireless mic would be good if it was worth the investment to the user. If anyone has any thoughts, I’d love to hear them.

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