Design and Development of PresentationTube

Motivation

The review of the literature and existing classroom technologies above revealed that choosing an appropriate system for recording video presentations by individuals is not easy. There is a wide range of what is known as “conversion”, “presentation recording”, “screen recording”, or “lecture capture” technologies available and used today. Whatley & Ahmad (2007) distinguished between two different approaches for producing video presentations from classroom presentations: the first is recording a live face-to-face lecture and make it available without editing the original footage. However, when using video of a lecture, much of the interactivity in the form of students’ questions and comments should be cut out, because of the low quality of sound and light. The second is recording a “summary presentation” of the lecture in office. The lectures recorded in office are found superior to those recorded in the lecture for a number of reasons: the material could be rehearsed; sound and lighting levels are more controllable; less extraneous noise; unnecessary movements are avoided; and the quality of sound is better (Whatley & Ahmad, 2007).

The technology used in either approaches range from very simple converter (convert PowerPoint presentation to standard video or Flash video) to highly sophisticated capture stations with multiple cameras and dedicated computers. The majority of these solutions are sophisticated applications designed for campus settings and intended for large‐scale distribution. None of these solutions (e.g., Camtasia Studio, authorPoint, Wimba, etc.) has been developed specifically with individual instructors’ needs in mind. In addition all these solutions aim to capture lectures and store outputs on a temporary file server to be further processed by technicians, who perform daily checks and upload videos to YouTube.

Therefore, SQU the majority of individual instructors will not be able to integrate any of these technologies into their classroom practices. Wilson (2010) agreed that “even when a basic level of sophistication has been decided on, there are many offerings with very similar feature sets that make choosing one somewhat difficult” (p.1). This situation has placed an emphasis on the need to develop and evaluate a simple but usable solution specifically for recording and sharing effective video materials for SQU students. The solution should leverage existing technology that can be directly administered by instructors, without the need of significant support services and accommodate the technical differences among SQU instructors as well as the pedagogical and psychological principles of multimedia design for university students. System design requires a set of pedagogical and technical guidelines that help in constructing the system components.

Assumptions and principles of design

The general design principles of the system were derived from the literature above and author’s teaching and technical experience, and grounded in the review of existing online slide and video sharing solutions. The reviews revealed many important principles, guidelines, and features for consideration in designing the proposed solution.

  1. The skills required to produce instructional video and make it available should be fairly minimal without the need for significant support services. In addition, the solution should make videos available as early as possible before or after lectures, and without the need for further manipulation or editing, since most students need to watch the video after a few hours of a given lecture (McClure, 2008).
  2. Multimedia research (Mayer & Moreno, 1998) emphasized the importance of combining presenter’s audio and video footage with slides simultaneously into a single video frame. The solution may synchronize visual aids like PowerPoint slides, freehand drawings and typing board, plus the instructor’s audio and video. The output should be produced in a standard and high-quality video format compatible with any operating system or mobile device.
  3. Overcoming the limits of working memory requires presenting part of the information being taught in a visual mode and part of it in a verbal mode (Mayer & Anderson, 1991). Presenting lesson information in both visual and verbal formats helps students to construct their own knowledge and retrieve information more easily in the future.
  4. Although displaying the video of the presenter along with the slides creates a visual distraction, taking students’ attentions away from the visual information in the slides, the presence of the instructor view is important to give students a sense of interacting with the instructor (sense of social presence) while watching the video lesson and may improve learning outcomes (Mayer & Anderson, 1991).

Media capture and acquisition application

The main intention of the design phase was to design and build the appropriate capture technique that acquires and synchronizes visual aids simultaneously. In conventional classroom setting, the instructor uses a large wall screen, whiteboard or flipchart and wants to video everything, including him/herself. But if the camera is pointed at screen or play area, the learners would not be able to read from the video because the low quality of the video output (e.g., contrast, reflective surfaces, glare, shadows, small text, limited area, positioning, etc.). This necessitates having a camera operator to pan and zoom as the instructor works. Therefore, the need was emphasized to develop a desktop tool to assist instructors automate the process of synchronizing and recording video presentations. Microsoft Visual Basic, a high level and object-oriented graphical user interface-driven development platform for Windows, was used to design user-interfaces and to code the video presentation recorder. The primary output of this phase was a complete code, a fully functional beta version (prototype) of the video presentation recorder (called PresentationTube Recorder).

The recorder has two major aspects – display and capture. The technique involves displaying content in a small window within the software window (see Figure 1). The window allows the instructor to display, manipulate and narrate the content the same way as opened and treated in the full-screen mode. The instructor can navigate forward and back through slides, and employ other features, including slide transitions, text and graphic animation, slide timing, mouse movement, audio effects, embedded video, and pen annotation. The same window is used as a camera viewer to show the presenter’s video footage using integrated or external webcam. More than one camera might be connected to give views of the scene from time to time. The instructor can generate professional-looking video presentations by switching between multiple camera views, which is important for creating attractive video materials. The instructor can merge and display the camera video footage inside the content window (picture-in-picture) or add the video footage beside the content window (side-by-side).

With visual aids, like the drawing board, presenters can draw lines, curves, graphs, and shapes on the screen to emphasize or clarify their ideas, so the demonstration can be clearer. The whiteboard helps instructors to type text while presenting using the keyboard making it an ideal tool to add more details, or explain equations using words, numbers, and symbols. This display window allows the instructor to switch between slides, whiteboard, drawing board, and webcam while recording, which simplify the capture process and avoid the problems of managing different visual aids and media (see Figure 2). The final outputs of the video presentation recorder are a video file in WMV/AVI format and presentation data file in ZIP format. Both files will be uploaded to PresentationTube platform to create the video and presentation slide thumbnails, as shown later.