If you are one of the many teachers who now has to figure out a way to teach virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, this post is for you. Essentially, there are three things you have to do:
- Create and record your lectures
- Post them online for students to access
- Collect assignments and exams for grading
I’m assuming you might need to start doing these things today, so the suggestions throughout this article won’t include going out into the world and buying new equipment.
For a free, easy way to get going, I would use Google products to live stream your lectures and then post them. I also recommend that all your students get Google accounts.
Step 1: Create and verify a YouTube account
I recommend creating a YouTube channel and then hosting your videos there. Go to www.youtube.com and sign in if you already have a gmail account, or create a new account. Make sure you verify your account if you haven’t already.
Step 2: Prepare to lecture
If you have a few hundred dollars to spend and you want to edit your lecture before you post it and/or do screen recordings, you can get Camtasia, a simple tool for recording and editing. You can also start with the 30-day free trial if you don’t mind the watermark showing up after exporting your final video. There is also a bunch of free screen recording software, but usually they don’t come with editing features.
If you get some screen recording software, you can also host a Google Hangout so that students can ask questions in addition to watching your lecture, and then record the entire Google Hangout session. If you go this route, I suggest creating a recurring Google calendar invitation with a Hangout added.
Step 3: Record and/or live stream
You can choose if you want to live stream, or record your lecture, edit it, and post it later. If you live stream on YouTube, it will automatically save a recording within your channel.
To live stream, go to Creator Studio tools, click “Create” in the upper right, and then “Go live.”
Write a title of your lecture, decide if you want it to be public or unlisted (with unlisted, people can only find your video if you embed it somewhere or give them the direct link), indicate if your recording is for kids or not, take a thumbnail picture, and then click “GO LIVE.” After you’re done recording, your video will show up on YouTube in the “Your videos” section, and then you can embed it anywhere you’d like.
If you don’t want to live stream, you can record using your phone and then use the phone’s built-in editing features to select the clip you want to share (often you may want to cut out the beginning and end parts right after you turn on the camera or before you turn it off). If you decided to try out Camtasia, you can record yourself writing on the whiteboard using your computer’s built-in webcam and/or record your screen (e.g., if you have PowerPoint presentations to walk through).
Step 4: Post your videos and assignments
Google Classroom is a great option for organizing class resources, posting assignments, and allowing students to upload their work. However, students will also need to have a Google account before they can enroll. If this is feasible:
- Go to classroom.google.com and sign in
- Click the + sign in the top right and then “Create class”
- Once you’re in your class, from within the “Stream” tab you can post your video lectures, regular text posts, and multiple-choice quizzes.
You will see a code to share with students within the “Stream” tab under your course title.
When you’re ready, you can invite your students with the following instructions:
- Go to classroom.google.com
- Click “Go to Classroom” in the middle of the screen
- Either sign in if you already have a Google account or click “Create account” to create a new Google account
- From within classroom.google.com, click the + sign in the top right and then “Join class”
- Enter the classroom code ______.
You can see what this will look like from the student’s perspective by checking out my Google Classroom test course (code: thjptft). (If you have trouble joining, please write me so I can update this article with additional instructions.)
I will continue to add to this article, but hopefully this is enough to get you started. Please post your questions below since I know each of your situations is unique. Happy to continue doing research to help you find the best options for your students.
Stay safe and healthy!