Category Archives: Online Education

Seven Tips for Creating Screen Capture Video for Training

I don’t know about you, but I often search for videos to show me how to do something. It could be anything, but often it’s something technology-related. Most recently I needed to download and set up Audacity (a free audio recording software) on my Mac. I consider myself to be somewhat “techie” but this was a challenge for me to get the settings right. What did I do? I searched for a “how to” video on YouTube.

One of the biggest changes in my training world has been the increased need for technology training. There are multiple tools – online and software-based – that real estate agents use in their daily business. The successful agent needs to know how to manipulate data and use online platforms to market to potential clients, create marketing materials, and manage transactions. There are a lot of options out there, and they want to know how to use them quickly and competently.

Hands-on classroom training is good, but it doesn’t help when there’s no class or the agent can’t get to one. Online training fills the gap, but the question remains, how do you demonstrate the tools and motivate the agents to adopt technology in their businesses? Along with the “how,” the trainer needs to sell the “why.”

Classroom training has the benefit of giving the trainer face-to-face contact with the learner. When teaching tech tools, I can readily see if someone understands a concept or action and address any questions or difficulties. When using online training to accomplish the same goals, the trainer has to anticipate the questions and issues that pop up and use that knowledge when creating online training.

Screen-capture video offers me the ability to demonstrate the process for using a tool and give tips and recommendations for successful use. I record my screen while talking, then edit the video to add features that help deepen the viewer’s understanding of the tool.

Here are seven things I’ve learned when making screen capture videos for training purposes:

  • Longer is not better! Most people have short attention spans and are unable to digest large quantities of directions at once. In my experience, learners receive and comprehend videos in the two to four minute range best. Remember, I want them to be able to duplicate the processes learned, not just watch a video.
  • Plan your edits in advance. When considering the process you’re recording, think about which steps or areas of the screen need enhancement or callouts. Most editing software (I use Camtasia) will let you zoom and pan on areas of the screen and add callouts like arrows and circles. Plan what parts of the screen need attention and when so that your editing will be a smooth process.
  • Use intro and exit slides for clarification. I learned that it makes for easier viewing to have an introductory slide/picture that gives the topic of the video. Exit images include a recap of the instructions covered in the video or tips for success. I can choose to talk over those slides, if I wish, but typically I do not.
  • Check your sound quality. When I first began to record screen-capture videos, I used the earbuds that came with my smartphone to record the audio portion. This was a cheap solution, but not the best. If I moved my head, the microphone didn’t necessarily follow my mouth. I invested in a decent headset with an adjustable microphone. No matter how I move, the microphone stays with me. I also recommend recording some test videos to check the sound levels and adjusting accordingly.
  • Know what to say when. This sounds self-evident, but you will quickly derail your video if you’re not sure of the process you’re trying to instruct or you get off track. I used to script my videos, but now I write notes and practice before recording. I make sure I can succinctly move from one action to the next while I describe the process. Practice helps!
  • Record in one take. You will not be perfect in your delivery. You will forget a word or stumble over a phrase. The internet will slow down as you’re trying to get something to process on screen. Take your time and edit out the mistakes or gaps. You can record snippets of the entire process and create the complete video out of the pieces, if you want. I know that I will edit the video to add features, so cutting “umms” and “ahhhs” is part of my editing process. I have learned to pause, then start a phrase over if something happens (like forgetting a word). As you listen to yourself in the editing process, you’ll discover what your verbal “tics” are. I tend to say “so” far too much. I’ve learned to lessen the frequency of certain repetitive words when I record now.
  • Make a plan. Many of the online courses I create consist of multiple videos. I make a plan to determine which videos I need to record and in which order they will appear in the course. I don’t need to record them in the same order, but it is helpful in a some cases to progress through aspects of the tool I am featuring in the course in my video recording. This may also seem self-evident that you need to plan out your course elements, but it’s helpful to consider when sitting down to record multiple videos at once.
  • Captions. I have not yet used captions for my videos; however, I am going to begin to do this. Why? Captions enable viewing on social media (such as YouTube or Facebook) without the sound. It also gives hearing-impaired people access to your videos. Some platforms such as YouTube will automatically create a transcription of the audio portion of your video. Camtasia offers a “speech to text” option to create the transcription. With any automatic transcription service, you’ll need to check the accuracy of the text as compared to the video. The next step is to use your video editing tool to add the captions to the video. I’m going to test this process, then decide whether I want to pay someone to create captions for my videos.

I distilled these tips from my experience creating screen-capture video. With some practice and attention, you can create your own videos and edit them to your specifications. The bonus? You get to tell your learners which features are important for their businesses or positions and how to best use the tool.

There’s something new in our fields almost every day that a video can help explain or demonstrate. That means I need to get back to my computer and get back to recording!

One-sided Webinars

Because I can’t be everywhere all the time, I use webinars to present training. You likely have either watched a webinar or had the pleasure of presenting one. They are ubiquitous in the training world. Webinars let you broadcast your training to whoever will log in, and if you remember to click the “record” button, you can post the recordings for anyone to watch at a later time.

I have something of a love/hate relationship with webinars. I like the convenience of holding webinars. I don’t have to arrange for a room, drive somewhere, deliver training, and drive back. I can open my laptop and start a session in a matter of a few minutes. I plug in my headset, and away we go!

It’s not that easy, though, to present a good webinar. You know, the kind where you plan according to a goal for the training, create the presentation or map out the tool you’ll demonstrate, construct polls for interaction, and create the follow-up survey. And if you’re conscientious, you’ll edit the video for clarity, dropping out the gaps in the presentation and the ummms and ahhhhs that naturally occur during live training, and then post the recording and add it to follow-up e-mails from the platform.

Another pitfall of the webinar format is when presenters follow the one-sided approach to their webinar. They soldier on through the material without giving any thought to how it might be received. Questions go unanswered, comments in the chat box are left dangling. Webinar attendees lose interest and check their e-mail. I, too, am guilty of being one-sided on occasion. The webinar format can be convenient, but it can be deadly dull, too.

The best webinars are engaging. Presenters frequently stop to ask questions of the participants and request feedback. Then, they pay attention to the questions and feedback and incorporate that into the presentation. Polls and surveys can help get feedback from participants. Good presenters keep the tone upbeat and move at a pace that keeps the topic fresh.

A good webinar also depends on the presenter having assistance from someone running the technology or having practiced enough to know the technology. I don’t have the luxury of an assistant and have to run the webinar dashboard at the same time I am the presenter. I have been guilty of forgetting to take myself off mute before starting the webinar. (I also failed to notice the comments in the chat box telling me the participants couldn’t hear anything.) Now I have a checklist and follow the same process each time I begin a webinar. I practice the material before I present live. I make sure it fits in the time allotted and leaves room for questions and feedback.

With planning and preparation, webinars can be a great tool for training people across a company with a geographically large footprint. They don’t have to be one-sided, either.

The Online Education Conundrum

A few years ago, I started advocating for an online education portal where our agents could go to access training classes if they couldn’t attend training in person. Unfortunately, the stigma of a previous incarnation of an online education portal for our company caused senior leadership to reject the idea. I should say that this was an early instance of online learning that was quite rudimentary. It left much to be desired.

Fast forward a couple years, and the attitudes changed in light of a growing company with the need to offer training to people in several locations. Instructor-lead training is the norm, and the ability to offer classes in multiple locations at times people were willing to attend has become problematic. Now, online education seems to be the solution to the problem.

Instead of evaluating various platforms available in the marketplace, we took a different approach. One of our partners is a local college of business that provides online pre-licensing and continuing education courses across the country. Without much knowledge of the platform they were moving their online education offerings to, we agreed to partner with them in a new venture. The college would offer our agents the ability to register for pre-licensing courses or take continuing education courses online through a custom-designed portal. We would have the ability to place our education offerings online using this platform and our agents would have access to them via the same portal.

This seems like a win-win situation. The college gets more business for their pre-licensing courses and online continuing education, and we get a place to put our content online. The agents get access to what they need, when they need it.

Here’s where the questions pop up: What kind of platform is this, and how easy is it to build courses for online use? The platform the college chose was designed for use by K-12 institutions. It does the job, but it’s not an easy platform to work with for our purposes. I find myself creating content, then having to manipulate it in such a way as to get it into the course I design. One example: videos can be uploaded directly to the platform; however, for viewing ease, I upload the video to YouTube, copy the embed code, paste it into a text document, save the document with a particular title and .html, move that document to a zip file with the same title, then upload it to the platform. This is not what I would call user-friendly.

The end result is not bad. I can categorize the courses, and they work as designed. Unfortunately, we have yet to launch this platform for our agents despite having access to it from the back end for almost a year. We are waiting for the college to migrate all of their content to the platform, and then we’ll be able to make it live. I often think it would have been much easier for us to contract with a platform provider directly. We would have had it up and running by now.

The benefit to having this online education portal with the college may be intangible at present, but the relationship offers us other benefits we can’t deny. Our recruits get an automatic scholarship when they register through our portal. We have a revenue sharing agreement that gives us a portion of the proceeds from online continuing education that our agents complete. And, we have created a relationship with this college that offers us access to resources we can’t maintain on our own.

I’ll keep plugging away at placing our content on the platform. Once we go live and agents have a chance to experience the training, I’ll be in a better position to evaluate if this is the answer to our prayers.