Making videos

If an economics instructor requires students to submit work using PowerPoint, they can reasonably expect that those students will either possess the skillset required to do so, or recognise the need to develop it. And student’s wouldn’t feel that the choice of format is a source of disadvantage. In a few years time the same will apply to the creation of a video. I see 4 options to create simple content.

  1. Video – the most obvious route is to use the video feature on a standard smartphone. Here’s an example. This can be done in a single shot without any additional resources. Here are some tips. This is the simplest way to record yourself, but I find it a little awkward when done as a lecture. If it’s more informal it’s more engaging, but slightly more complicated to plan. Using a light board is possibly the best way to do this. Social media platforms now have great video functionality. I like TikTok (here’s an example).
  2. Powerpoint with voiceover – this is probably the simplest, and I have several examples. There’s also products such as Adobe Spark that perform the same function but slightly slicker. Do be careful about whether to put the slides online as well, since this can reduce the likelihood of students watching the video. I use Camtasia to narrate over a PowerPoint screen record. Here’s an example. It also allows relatively easy editing but it’s not cheap and I’m sure there’s plenty of other options. Here’s some instructions for screen recording on a Mac. Quicktime has a very simple audio + screen capture device and it’s baked into Mac OS. See Tom’s Guide for some more.
  3. Dual video and slides – this is a great way to convey detailed content but in a personalised way (e.g. Andy Field). I’m keen to find simple software that allows a presentation recording, webcam footage, and note space. In other words I want to know what these guys use. I’ve been told that the following do it, but I’m yet to convince myself that they’re simple enough for me to use.
    • Loom – best for people who want a free solution that is intuitive and easy to use
    • ManyCam – best for people with a license, and willing to learn how to use it
    • OBS Studio – best for people who want a free, open source option that is slightly more complicated to use but allows a lot more functionality (here’s a tutorial)
    • Zoom – best for people that are used to using Zoom
  4. Interactive powerpoint – for my EMIB course we had an interactive green screen. This puts the presenter inside the screen and permits interaction (e.g. drawing directly on the screen). It’s basically reading the weather. It’s harder to plan but the final result can be quite effective. For lecturing, I don’t a green screen adds much value over a plain background. A virtual set though, may be worth investing in!

Finally, it’s not always necessary to reinvent the wheel. I think there’s value added in giving students content that you’ve created, since it generates a student-teacher bond. But I also utilise high quality videos created by others.

Excellent sources for economics related videos are TED Talks, the St Louis Fed, Planet Money Shorts, and Learn Liberty.

Share and be social