Using a Smartphone or Laptop with VoiceThread for Virtual Lab Recordings

This guide summarizes a possible solution for instructors who teach lab courses in which students would in normal circumstances interact with lab equipment, conduct experiments, take measurements, analyze data, and generate a lab report.

One approach (with limited personnel and technical resources) would be for the instructor or designee to record a short digital video of the lab using a smartphone or laptop with webcam, upload to VoiceThread inserted in Blackboard, provide students with data in a document posted to Blackboard, and then ask students to complete the analysis and generate the lab report and submit to a Blackboard Assignment.

Here are the steps using a smartphone:

  1. Setup the lab resources necessary to conduct the visual part of the experiment. Aim for the shortest video possible. Online learning video viewership tends to fade after about 6 minutes.
  2. Using a smartphone (iPhone or Android phone) to record the conduct of the lab. This will likely work best with two people, one to hold the phone and one to conduct the lab.
    1. Do a quick test run of about 30 seconds to ensure video and audio quality and volume is good.
    2. Remember that, particularly in these circumstances, students are not expecting perfection. If you make a mistake, simply correct yourself or repeat a step just as you would in person.
  3. Upload the video from the smartphone to a computer.
    1. If you have not already, install the iOS/Android OneDrive app on your device
    2. Sign in to the OneDrive app using your NIU username and password.
    3. Navigate to the recording on your device and press the share button, select OneDrive.
  4. Unless you already sync OneDrive to your computer, download the video to your computer.
    1. Login to Onedrive.com with your NIU username and password
    2. Locate your video and choose the settings menu (three vertical dots), choose Download
  5. Open a new tab or browser window and navigate to Blackboard (webcourses.niu.edu)
  6. Navigate to the course and location where you want to share your video
  7. Insert a VoiceThread item
    1. For a Bb Original course:
      1. From the Build Menu, choose Build Content, then VoiceThread
      2. Provide Title and Description (as needed) and click Submit, you should now see the VoiceThread link
      3. Click the link, choose “Individual VT” from the configuration menu
      4. Click the grey “Create new VoiceThread” on the top left of the screen.
      5. From your computer, drag your video to the “Add Media” area, or click the plus sign, then My Computer to browse for your video.
      6. Enter a Title and Description for your VoiceThread video
      7. Once the video has uploaded, click “Share with Class”, then “Share with Class”
      8. The video will begin processing, and captions will be added automatically when they are ready
      9. Click the link “Return to Course” and close the tab to return to your course.
      10. Depending on the length of the video return to the course and click the link to preview the video. This is the same view students will experience.
    2. For a Bb Ultra course:
      1. Click the Add Content + icon, choose Content Market
      2. Choose the + icon in the lower right corner of the VoiceThread tile
      3. Provide Title and Description (as needed) and click Submit, you should now see the VoiceThread link
      4. Click the link, choose “Individual VT” from the configuration menu
      5. Click the grey “Create new VoiceThread” on the top left of the screen.
      6. From your computer, drag your video to the “Add Media” area, or click the plus sign, then My Computer to browse for your video.
      7. Enter a Title and Description for your VoiceThread video
      8. Once the video has uploaded, click “Share with Class”, then “Share with Class”
      9. The video will begin processing, and captions will be added automatically when they are ready
      10. Click the link “Return to Course” and close the tab to return to your course.
  8. Depending on the length of the video return to the course in a 5-15 minutes and click the link to preview the video. This is the same view students will experience.
  9. Upload data and assignment guidelines as usual using Blackboard.
  10. Create an assignment link for students to submit documents or other content in response to the instructions.

Here are the steps using a laptop computer with a webcam:

  1. Setup the lab resources necessary to conduct the visual part of the experiment. Aim for the shortest video possible. Online learning video viewership tends to fade after about 6 minutes.
  2. Place the laptop in a location that will best capture the lab activities.
    1. When you begin recording, be sure to speak loudly so the microphone picks up your voice.
    2. Remember that, particularly in these circumstances, students are not expecting perfection. If you make a mistake, simply correct yourself or repeat a step just as you would in person.
  3. On the laptop computer, open a new tab or browser window and navigate to Blackboard (webcourses.niu.edu)
  4. Navigate to the course and location where you want to share your video.
  5. Insert a VoiceThread item
    1. For a Bb Original course:
      1. From the Build Menu, choose Build Content, then VoiceThread
      2. Provide Title and Description (as needed) and click Submit, you should now see the VoiceThread link
      3. Click the link, choose “Individual VT” from the configuration menu
      4. Click the grey “Create new VoiceThread” on the top left of the screen.
      5. Click the plus sign, then Webcam Video.
      6. The video will begin to record. Conduct your session, then click Stop Recording.
      7. Either click Cancel to discard the video, or Save to save the video
      8. Enter a Title and Description for your VoiceThread video, click Save.
      9. Click “Share with Class”, then “Share with Class”
      10. The video will begin processing, and captions will be added automatically when they are ready
      11. Click the link “Return to Course” and close the tab to return to your course.
      12. Depending on the length of the video return to the course and click the link to preview the video. This is the same view students will experience.
    2. For a Bb Ultra course:
      1. Click the Add Content + icon, choose Content Market
      2. Choose the + icon in the lower right corner of the VoiceThread tile
      3. Provide Title and Description (as needed) and click Submit, you should now see the VoiceThread link
      4. Click the link, choose “Individual VT” from the configuration menu
      5. Click the grey “Create new VoiceThread” on the top left of the screen.
      6. Click the plus sign, then Webcam Video.
      7. The video will begin to record. Conduct your session, then click Stop Recording.
      8. Either click Cancel to discard the video, or Save to save the video
      9. Enter a Title and Description for your VoiceThread video, click Save.
      10. Click “Share with Class”, then “Share with Class”
      11. The video will begin processing, and captions will be added automatically when they are ready
  6. Depending on the length of the video return to the course in a 5-15 minutes and click the link to preview the video. This is the same view students will experience.
  7. Upload data and assignment guidelines as usual using the Blackboard.
  8. Create an assignment link for students to submit documents or other content in response to the instructions.
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