The explosion of teacher-created open educational resources (OERs) has transformed the world of K-12 learning materials. No longer are educators tied to canned curricula. Now they can use an idea developed by a teacher in another state or even across the globe.
Maybe you have a great lesson plan or even a course you'd like to share, but you don't know where to begin. Fortunately, it's easier than you think to create your own videos and podcasts and then share them with others. Just follow these steps:
Map it out. The first step to creating an OER video or podcast series is to decide what you want to convey and how. How many videos will you create, what will each cover and how long will they be? Keep in mind that 3-5 minutes is ideal.
Another thing to consider is how you'll want to connect the dots for your student viewers. If you want them to watch the videos in succession, you might end each video by saying, " "In our next lesson ." " If a video can stand alone, you might conclude by remarking, " "Now that you know about the structure of atoms, let's move on to ." " There's no right or wrong way. What's important is that you take the time to think through your approach.
Choose your props (yes, props!). When I realized that students learned biology more easily if they could picture the subject matter, I created three-dimensional representations of cells and molecules. The same approach would work for other subjects. For math, blocks or marbles can demonstrate equations. For history, art objects, paintings or primary documents could flesh out the topic.
Assemble your equipment. Once you have your props in order, you're ready to record. There's a lot of fancy camera equipment out there, but I've found that it's easiest — not to mention cheapest — to take a DIY approach, like these two setups:
Get your students involved. Your students are savants who know more about integrating technology into every aspect of life than most adults do. They're often thrilled to serve as video scribes. In fact, when I first started recording my lectures, the two tech-savvy students I recruited to be my sound men took it upon themselves to edit the videos in a way that made sense to kids their age.
Choose your software. Tools like Camtasia, ScreenFlow and Screencast-O-Matic, which range in price from free to $100, let you capture what's on your computer screen and use the mouse or your voice to direct the audience.
Once you have your video, there are a variety of ways to turn your DIY effort into a finished product. Screen-capturing software has built-in editing tools and often offers 30-day trials. If you choose free software, like Screencast-O-Matic, without the built-in tools, you can use more advanced editing software, such as iMovie, Final Cut and Adobe, which range in price from free to $299.
Organize your content. There are a lot of audio- and video-hosting sites that can help you manage your content. For audio, check out:
SoundCloud is used primarly for music sharing and consumption. Once you've created an account, you can upload content and playlists. One especially great feature is that it lets students insert comments and questions into the recording at whatever point they want. It's also available as an app for iPhones and Androids.
PodOmatic, like SoundCloud, allows you to upload content through a free account. Everything is clearly organized by subject, and there's an education section that can be helpful for lesson planning. Unlike SoundCloud, students cannot comment on the recordings. PodOmatic is vailable for iPhones and Androids.
Archive.org is another good option because it lets you create collections that your students can access. There's also a rich trove of material in case you want them to search for additional resources. It's not as user friendly as PodOmatic or SoundCloud, and it's only available on iPhones, not Androids.
For video, consider these options:
YouTube allows you to indicate whether you want to develop your material with or without a Creative Commons license. A Creative Commons license makes the content available to everyone for free, which is very much in the OER spirit of sharing and working for the greater good. All of my materials are under this license.
Vimeo makes it easy to upload videos because the site accepts many different types of file formats. It also has its own Vimeo Video School with lessons, tutorials and advice to help visitors learn how to make better videos.
TeacherTube lets you upload documents, photos, video and audio and organize your content into a " "classroom." " The upload feature is still in Beta mode, so the website is a work in progress.
SchoolTube is significantly more streamlined than TeacherTube and is a great place to organize videos. One catch: Your school has to have a SchoolTube account.
For general content management, I like Net Texts — and not just because I work there (which, full disclosure, I do). I like it because its offline syncing capabilities let students access content without Wi-Fi and because Net Texts lets teachers create multifaceted, dynamic curricula by mixing and matching audio, video, PDFs, slideshows and other tools.
Present your content. Once you have your lessons in place, you'll want to think about how to present them.
I'm a big fan of setting up stations with different learning tools at each and having students rotate among them in small groups. This gives you time to work more closely with the students and give each person more attention. It also lets students work through the lesson if they don't have their own personal tech tools (phones, tablets). This is especially important at schools that haven't moved to 1:1 learning, that have only a few tablets for the whole student body, or whose only computers are in a computer lab.
There are countless advantages to creating and sharing your own resources, not the least of which is addressing several of the ISTE Standards for Teachers, including designing and developing digital age learning experiences and assessments, modeling digital age work and learning, and engaging in professional growth and leadership. Now that you have a few tips on how to get started, I hope you'll give it a try. I predict that once you do, you'll never look back.
Tyler DeWitt is an education innovator and director of original content at Net Texts, a leading developer of OER-based teaching aids. He has received national attention for his popular YouTube channel Science with Tyler DeWitt, and his TED talk has been viewed almost a million times.