The growing popularity of online classes is excellent news for the modern students who can now study all sorts of interesting topics any time of the day from their computers or mobile devices. It also increases the opportunities and accessibility for independent instructors who aren’t restricted to a specific classroom or office on campus, or a set schedule for lectures. Instead, they can record lectures or live lessons, or create video tutorials that students can tune into anytime and offer feedback as needed.
But this poses a challenge to keep everything professional, like you would in a traditional academic setting. An inexpensive solution is to film these lectures at home, but students likely won’t want to hear household background noise like lawn mowers, kids, or pets. Likewise, busy backgrounds might be distracting, such as posters or artwork not related to the topic, or maybe even family members or pets walking around. Such problems are likely to arise even when you use a good quality online teaching platform that has an in-built lecture recording and streaming feature. Now, the question arises how to create good quality video tutorials or deliver noise-free high-quality live lessons.
5 Practical Tips on How to Turn Your Living Room into a Studio to Record Lectures
Independent instructors trying to create a professional atmosphere for their lessons can try these tips:
1. Choose the right space
A living room seems to be the right blend of classy and informal. Compared to a kitchen, bedroom, or a basement/rec room, a living room can convey a bit of a scholarly tone even, especially if you have bookshelves or impressive décor. What should be avoided, however, are walls that aren’t especially appealing, such as chips, stains, or visible wear and tear. When trying to figure out an ideal spot in your living room, focus on a corner where you would be comfortable sitting or standing for the length of your lecture, and the audience won’t be distracted by the environment by watching you.
You would want to avoid elements that could catch a student’s focus, such as windows that show activity outdoors like neighbors or homes. Even the flooring that shows up in the frame might be distracting; perhaps a busy carpet pattern could catch someone’s eye. And even if you’re perfectly happy with the color scheme that was last updated in 1985, your audience might wonder if your ideas are also stuck in the past. Generally, imagine how the audience might see the space and if it will distract from your message. Therefore, pay attention to where you sit or stand to deliver or record lectures.
2. Prepare the space
It’s not just you who will be seen by students, your home will also be on display. You’ll want to look your best, of course, and you can also make sure to spruce up that section of your home. You can even keep this area perpetually tidy if you intend to give many lectures here. Getting things into place and ready for their Hollywood close-up can include removing anything from the walls you don’t want to be in the shot, and dusting and cleaning any visible artwork or fixtures that are OK being in the background.
You can also consider painting walls or polishing furnishings if needed, and clean up any visible paperwork. You can still have items related to your lecture nearby, such as your presentation materials or any handouts you want students to see. These can be within easy access so you’re not spending time looking through drawers or opening boxes during your recording session. Consider items that could vibrate or create noise. Your camera microphone may be extra sensitive and pick up on any feedback you might not even hear, so your students may hear hums or ringing.
3. Sound proof the place
Removing things that can vibrate is only the beginning. Your audience will also appreciate if you eliminate all noises that could show up and be a distraction. This can include people moving around inside and outside of your home; traffic outside, especially if you live near a busy road or have loud autos on your street; and periodic noises like a water heater, air conditioner, or a laundry machine cycling on or off.
Plumbing noises or housekeeping sounds like vacuuming or a dishwasher could be an audio consideration as well. Even “office” noises like a computer fan, hardware racks, or ringing phones could give background noise or even interrupt you. A strong rainy day could also put a damper on things from excess white noise.
You don’t have to invest in soundproofing tiles, like a recording studio, but you can at least close any doors or add carpet to block sounds and instruct family members, roommates, or co-workers to be absolutely silent during filming time – including walking around. That could also add to the “movie making” mystique you may be trying to create at your home.
4. Space for props around workstation
Teachers of the past primarily used a chalkboard, but your tool of choice is your computer and monitor, which you can use to show students your topic and presentations. This should be clear and in focus. Your work area that will show up in your video should be a place where you could walk around if needed, gesture if needed, or sit if it’s a particularly long one or you’ve recorded several episodes in a row and prefer to stay off your feet.
The station shouldn’t be permanent either – who knows if you may need to shift something around or use different props or devices? A desk or file cabinet should look professional and have room for different items for your classes. Though you can certainly pause or re-record if you realize you forgot something, it’s much easier to have everything you need right at your fingertips when you begin a particular lecture.
5. Practice. Practice. Practice
You know you’re an expert on whatever topic you’re teaching, but future students will benefit if you tried out the entire lecture before you actually recorded it. A dress rehearsal will give you an idea of how long it takes you to cover your material and record lectures, and also help you organize your thoughts. Doing a run through in front of a trusted friend or family member can provide an opportunity for feedback.
Overall, preparation is important before recording your online lecture, which includes looking at your delivery and your environment.