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Record brief videos to introduce yourself or course content

Video Recording In Progress imageYouTube includes a largely unknown feature that makes it quick and easy to record video. That’s right — record video! It’s easy because no other video software is needed, it records directly into YouTube.

Educators can quickly record a video welcoming students to a course, introduce an assignment or important course concept, or make an announcement. These short videos are a simple way to build a connection with students, particularly for online classes. In this post, we’ll talk about what you need to record videos using YouTube, tips for recording talking-head videos and a detailed tutorial.

What you need

To record videos in YouTube, you need a webcam and a YouTube account. Mac owners are in luck because most Apple computers already have a webcam. If you don’t have a webcam, you can check one out from Elon’s Media Services, located in Belk Library. Call (336) 278-6598 for more information. If you don’t have a YouTube account (Gmail accounts also work), click here to create a Google account.

Tips for recording videos

  • Content: This method of recording videos is recommended for broad concepts or ideas rather than specific details or facts on the course content. Use these videos to introduce a concept or an assignment, tell a story that ties to the course content or as a way to humanize yourself. Detailed lecture-like recordings are better when accompanied by visual aids. If you want to include visuals such as photographs, PowerPoint slides or other images, tools like Adobe Connect, PowerPoint, Jing or Screencast-O-Matic are better at combining video and visuals. Contact Teaching and Learning Technologies for more information about these tools.
  • Script: If you don’t use a script in your classroom, don’t use one on video. Like in the classroom, your ideas should be outlined but a natural delivery is more important than a precise delivery. Try to have a conversation with your webcam.
  • Practice: It’s not easy to talk to an inanimate object. The first few times you do it, it will feel awkward. Give yourself a few times to practice. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect, just comfortable.
  • Be brief: Most talking-head web videos should be around five minutes. If you want to say more, record a few short videos.
  • Look into the camera: Your instinct will be to look at your computer screen while you’re recording but try to look directly into the camera. This is the best way to simulate eye contact with the viewers.
  • Backlight: Be careful not to have a window or any bright light behind you. If there is, the web camera will assume everything in the picture is that bright and will darken the entire picture and making it difficult to see you. Instead, have any bright lights in front of you, so the light is shining on your face, not your back.


Here is an example I recorded in about 8 seconds on YouTube.


How-to record a video using YouTube

Step 1: Connect your webcam to your computer

Step 2: Go to www.youtube.com and login with your YouTube (or Gmail) account

Step 3: Click “Upload” at the top of the page

Upload to Youtube

Step 4: Click “Record from webcam”

YouTube Record from Webcam

Step 5: In the popup box, click “Allow” to let YouTube use your webcam to record this video

Youtube allow access

Step 6: Click “Close.” You should see yourself on the page.

Step 7: Verify your webcam and microphone settings. Test your microphone and check to see audio is being heard (say a few words, you should see audio bars moving up and down). If audio is not being registered, change the webcam or microphone settings and choose the correct microphone.

YouTube Webcam and mic

Step 8: Click the record button in the center of the screen to start recording. Remember to try to look directly into the camera, and don’t worry if you make minor mistakes. The video will feel more natural if it isn’t 100% perfect.

Youtube Ready to record

Step 9: When you are done, click the stop icon. The video will process for a few seconds. Additional options should appear on your screen — you have the option to “Re-record” your video (erase what you have recorded so far and record another version), “Preview” (view what you just recorded) or “Publish” (post the video to YouTube). If you are happy with the video, click on “Publish.” If not, click on “Re-record.”

Youtube Publish

Step 10: Your video is now processing on YouTube — this typically takes a few minutes. In the meantime, fill in the video’s “Basic Info” at the bottom of the page. Include a “Title,” Description,” and “Tags.” If you want to limit the people who have access to your video, change the “Privacy and publish settings” to “Unlisted.” This means that only people who have the direct link to your video will be able to view it, rather than anyone searching or browsing on YouTube.  Below is a screenshot of the recommended settings.

YouTube Basic info

Step 11: After you’ve added the necessary information, Click “Save changes.”

YouTube save changes

Step 12: Refresh your browser. If your video is done processing, it should appear on the screen. If it’s not ready, wait a few more minutes and refresh your browser again. Click on one of the images to set it as a thumbnail preview.

Youtube Thumbnail

Step 13: That’s it! The only thing left is to share the video with your students. Click on the “View on video page” near the top of the page. This will take you to the YouTube page for this video.

View video page

To share your video, you can either email this link to your students or embed the video directly into Moodle. To embed the video in Moodle, follow the directions from our previous post, Reduce distractions and embed YouTube videos in Moodle (skip down to the “How-to” section of the post).

Do you have another way to record videos? Let us know in the comments. Or contact Teaching and Learning Technologies with your questions or for assistance with recording your videos.

Video Recording in Progress image by Flickr user Jeremy Brooks / Creative Commons licensed BY-NC 2.0

About the author

Dan Reis is an Instructional Technologist with Elon University’s Teaching and Learning Technologies.

Also posted in Moodle Musings, Tech Tips, YouTube | Comments Off on Record brief videos to introduce yourself or course content

Reduce distractions and embed YouTube videos in Moodle

Example of video embedded in a Moodle page

Example of a YouTube video embedded in a Moodle course page

Forty-eight hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute (source). Among all the giggling babies and flying sloths there is great content you could use in your course. Creating a hyperlink to a YouTube video from Moodle works fine but once students are on YouTube they can get lost or distracted by the less academic videos. Embedding video so it appears inside your Moodle course page alongside other text and images is an easy way for you to seamlessly include video without the all the distractions.

The Good: Embedding video within Moodle helps reduce distractions and maintains continuity of your content in Moodle. It also avoids some of the copyright concerns with digital videos because the video is hosted on someone else’s server.

The Bad: The disadvantage to embedding is that ultimate control of the video is left to someone else. If the person who uploaded the video to YouTube decides to remove it or it is removed for copyright reasons, the video will disappear and no longer work in your Moodle course.

Ideas for use:

  • Embed a video to introduce a new topic or to relate an important concept to popular culture.
  • Embed a video as an assignment in Moodle and have students write a short reflection about the video directly into Moodle.
  • Embed a video in a forum to support your argument.
  • Embed a YouTube playlist that contains several videos on a similar theme for students who want to learn more.
  • Embed a YouTube lecture from one of the hundreds of Universities on YouTube.com/edu to supplement your instruction or activities.

What is the difference between embedding a YouTube video and uploading a video via Resources/Video in Moodle? Uploading a video requires that you have a local copy of the video. For example, if you recorded a video with your iPhone or Flip video camera, you can upload it. Otherwise, finding a video on YouTube and embedding it into your Moodle course is a great way to bring video into your class.

How-to embed a YouTube video into Moodle

The directions below are for embedding a YouTube video. It is also possible to embed videos from many other video sharing websites like: Vimeo, PBS, Ted.com, Hulu and others. Just look for an icon or text that says “embed” or “share.” However, how you paste it into Moodle will be a little different.

Summary of steps

  • Find video on YouTube
  • Copy the link to the video
  • Create a resource in Moodle
  • Paste the link into your Moodle course

Step 1: Find a video on YouTube at www.youtube.com. Tip: YouTube has thousands of academic lectures from the world’s top universities available for use at www.youtube.com/edu.

Step 2: Highlight and copy the URL for the video. You are done with YouTube.com.

Copy URL from YouTube

Step 3: Go to your Moodle course page and click on “Turn editing on.”

Turn editing on

Step 4: Click on “Add a resource” and select “Compose a web page.”

Add a resource menu in Moodle


Step 5: Enter a Name for the web page/resource. You may also add text in the summary box but it is not required.

Add resource name

Step 6: Find the location you want to paste your video. If you have text you want to include in the web page, you can enter it in the “Compose a web page” box. Right-click (Mac: Ctrl + left click) in the text box and paste your copied URL in the text box.

Right-click to paste YouTube link


Paste YouTube link

Step 7: Scroll-down and click on “Save and display.”

That’s it. Your video should appear within your Moodle course page.

Example of video embedded in a Moodle page

Example of a YouTube video embedded in a Moodle course page

View the video in the example: Blogs vs. Wikis.

About the author

Dan Reis is an Instructional Technologist with Elon University’s Teaching and Learning Technologies.

Also posted in Moodle, Moodle Musings, Teaching and Learning, YouTube | Comments Off on Reduce distractions and embed YouTube videos in Moodle