The other day I had my little company buy a brand-new iMac, in the course of which the Apple Geniuses updated the operating system on the year-old MacBook to the Lion operating system. Despite the usual grousing over the inconvenience of having to learn whole new ways of addressing tasks that weren’t broke and didn’t need to be fixed, I’ve found one feature that is really going to make a difference with the teaching hobby.
(I refuse to call anything that’s paid so little a “job”!)
Lion OS X.7.3 makes it possible to create videos in Quicktime, format them for Web publication in a single keystroke, and then upload them with just one more keystroke to YouTube, Vimeo, or any of several other platforms.
This is the solution to the nightmare that is BlackBoard’s video incapability. After endless struggle, I’d given up on trying to post audio and video files on BB for my fully online magazine-writing course. I wasted more time than Carter has oats trying to build a video or audio lectures and then discovered our version of BB won’t even post an ordinary, silent PowerPoint file! Literally: days of time wasted, to no effect. Finally I had to convert the material I wanted to use for online lectures into PDFs—pretty awful ones—and just stick them online for students to read and try to figure out on their own.
Yesterday, just dinking around with QuickTime, I found I could mount a short single-topic lecture in 15 or 20 minutes! It takes about an hour to choke it down YouTube’s throat, but the physical process of getting it to YouTube is infinitely simpler than it used to be.
I’m certainly no starlet, and with no training whatsoever in how to talk to a camera, these first efforts are a little clumsy. But they certainly do the job—and they’re a lot better than asking students to read PDFs. At least it injects a little humanity into an online course. Check out the three I’ve got online so far.