Steps to screencast success

  1. Start with an Outline – Before recording, take time to outline the topics the video will cover so you can create a flow, much like you would do for a live presentation.
  2. Focus on the Audience’s Needs – Your outline should help you identify the unique problem you are solving for your audience. Keep it in mind as you go through the screencast so it’s completely relevant to those following along.
  3. Get a Good Mic – As with all audio, clarity is vital. Invest in a really good microphone that helps eliminate background noise and static. It will make the necessary editing work much easier to manage.
  4. Lock Out the Noise Makers – Even if you have an excellent mic, your screencast can go downhill fast with dogs barking, kids screaming and phones ringing.
  5. Consider Separating Audio and Video – If you find that recording the video and the audio at the same time is too much and you’re having trouble talking while you click, do the video first then go back and record the audio separately.
  6. Clean Up Your Desktop – If you have 173 icons sitting on your desktop and plan to open apps from that location during the video, clean it up and remove unused clutter. Not only will it cut down on the time it takes you to find what you’re looking for, but it will also look a lot more professional.
  7. Close Out Apps – Before starting, exit all of the applications you won’t be using to avoid interruptions (email notifications, IM pings, etc.). This will also speed up the processing of the apps you are using.
  8. Plan a Dress Rehearsal – Do a walk-through before you start recording. While you don’t want to over practice, going through the video at least once will make it more natural and smooth.
  9. Be Confident – You know your stuff, that’s why you’re making a screencast. Let your experience and confidence show.
  10. Speak Slowly – As with any presentation, think about what you’re saying, take time to breathe and try to pace yourself. Sure you can go back and edit, but consciously thinking about your speed will cut down on the edits you need to make.
  11. Take Breaks – If you find that you are talking faster than you’d like, hit pause. One of the best things about making a screencast is that you control the process, so if you need to take five, do it.
  12. Try Improvisation Instead of Starting Over – Don’t let your breaks stop your progression. Instead of stopping, rewinding and starting over when something doesn’t come out right, try to go with the flow and see what happens.
  13. Let Go of Perfection –When you do misclick, misspeak or make a mistake, it’s OK. Unless you’re doing a screencast on the perfect screencast, little gaffes are expected and make you more relatable.
  14. Give it a Day to Rest – Once you’ve completed your recording, get away from it. Give yourself a break from the intense focus.
  15. Edit and Clean Up – Plan at least a day after your break to clean up and fine-tune your screencast. And it’s always a great idea to have someone else review with a fresh eye before publishing.

Learning design: How to

I use design thinking and SAM (Successive Approximation Model).

Design thinking and SAM

By doing some user research find out what challenges the learning faces, how much time they have to do the learning, where are they based, what are their technical limitations. This can be done using a survey or by running focus groups. Create learner personas from the user findings.

Define the problem (savvy start) this involves scoping out the project with the SME. Invite the following to the first meeting. Budget maker, person who owns the performance problem, SME, potential learners, recent learners, Project Manager, Instructional Designer.

I use the action mapping technique to further develop the scope of the project. What is the business goal? We also want to know what levels of experience or knowledge the learners have, what are the learning objectives, how will the effectiveness of the training be measured. This is not a comprehensive list of questions for the SME.

Ideate, this stage requires potential solutions to be discussed and created, I create a storyboard, which could involve a simple wireframe with navigation and then a mock-up can be created.

Iterative design, Design – Prototype – Review (regular catch ups with SME).

Iterative development, Develop – Implement – Evaluate.

In summary, this allows for an agile way of developing learning solutions and we put measures in place by creating the evaluation form from the start.

What model do you use? Is ADDIE still fit for purpose?

Virtual reality for your ears – Binaural sound

What’s the difference between spatial audio and binaural sound?

Spatial audio is when you listen to 3D sound on a loudspeaker it also includes listening to 3D sound on some headphones. But if listen to 3D sound on just headphones it is referred to as binaural sound.

Here are some examples, wear your headphones!

Rob Da Bank’s headphone special – Recorded in 3D.

BBC Proms recorded in binaural sound.

How is this 3D sound created?

This video by The Verge explains:

Example of object-based audio

Object-based audio is one-way spatial audio is used in media. Here’s an example: The audio “objects”, individual actors, spot effects and atmos mics, are fed to the home as one continuous data stream. The producer has decided during the mix where each object is to be placed around the listener.

Why use it?

Immersion, the listener is brought further into the heart of the story and triggering greater thrills and connections to the scene. This drags the listener in and if used with video is even more effective. We hear a great deal with our eyes! Get actors to look off screen behind the viewer and place a sound behind them, and the binaural effect is very powerful.

“Binaural audio has grown in popularity due to one huge thing VR, Virtual Reality”

Demystifying Mixed Reality

Mixed reality is the result of blending the real world with the digital world to produce new environments and visuals.

The key term for mixed reality, or MR, is flexibility. It tries to combine the best aspects of both VR and AR.

There are various MR headsets one of which is Microsoft HoloLens. This is an example of how it can be used within education, An Evolution for Education.

The Untold Story of Magic Leap, this example is a startup experimenting with what MR could be capable of.

MR is in its early stages. However, it’s not impossible to imagine a future where this content will be able to react to and even interact with the real world in some way.

Mixed Reality

Can provide a much more engaging experience for students.

360/VR/AR What’s the difference?

360 video offers a spherical view of the world. During playback the viewer has control of the viewing direction.

Virtual Reality (VR) places the user inside an experience, which can be viewed using a headset. The cheaper headsets include Google Cardboard, Google Daydream and Samsung Gear. The expensive ones are Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

Augmented Reality (AR) is the integration of digital information with the user’s environment in real time. Unlike VR, which creates a totally artificial environment, augmented reality uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it.

Apps to try out:



NYT VR – New York Times

BBC Taster VR




IKEA Place

I have been involved in creating a VR experience for Studio Directing. You can come along to the BBC’s Blue Room at The Mailbox in Birmingham, and try it out on the Oculus Rift, or try the online version:

Then there is Mixed Reality (MR) which we’ll cover in another blog post.

The 20 Habits of Truly Brilliant Presenters

I’m due to present at the CIPD conference on Thursday. I haven’t presented to such a large number before, so I’ve been doing some research on presenting. I’d like to share with you the 20 habits of truly brilliant presenters created by Citrix.

The brain and stage fright

It always starts with a thought:

  • I’ll forget what I want to say
  • The audience will be bored
  • They will see I’m nervous
  • They won’t like me, believe me or agree with me
  • They will ask me questions I don’t know the answers to

The 20 Habits of Truly Brilliant Presenters

Habit 1: They acknowledge and reframe, it’s ok to be nervous, nerves are normal and it is a conversation

Habit 2: They focus on the audience

Habit 3: They don’t try to be perfect

Habit 4: They stick to the point

Habit 5: They see the opportunity, great presenters see the presentation as an opportunity to help their audience and add value to their personal or professional lives.

Habit 6: They anchor themselves, simply recalling a time you felt happy, confident, calm and relaxed

Habit 7: They practice

Habit 8: They tell stories

Habit 9: They use colourful, creative and compelling images

Habit 10: They involve their audience

Habit 11: They use videos and props

Habit 12: They use their voice by varying the pitch, tone, volume and pace.

Habit 13: They stay in the present. Sit back and focus your attention on your breath by feeling the sensation of each breath that you take in and the experience of letting each breath go.

Habit 14: They know how to make friends

Habit 15: They know what they’re talking about

Habit 16: They are consistent

Habit 17: They are generous. As a speaker, you have a wealth of gifts to share generously, your passion, energy, undivided attention, smile, eye contact etc.

Habit 18: They help them to see the contrast

Habit 19: They give them good reason

Habit 20: They give them hope

Wish me luck

Gadget Show Live 2015

I attended The Gadget Show Live. There were a lot of drones, great for videos that we’re creating for our learning programmes. Go Pro cameras, which we have recently purchased for filming in the team. We’re looking at creating a video channel with engineer recorded footage.

A lot of talk about Smart watches, not so many early adopters as yet. But, you need a phone as well as a watch! Also culturally it’s rude to look at your watch whilst talking to someone.

Smart glasses were demoed, Google Glass has been phased out. The Epson Moverio looks awesome. My team at HomeServe are currently experimenting with Google Cardboard. Virtual learning with our engineer population would be good.

3D printers are more readily available, not too sure on how to utilise one currently. Apart from creating 3D houses as our business is a home assistance company.

A few companies offering motion sensors to create a smart home. Similar to Hive. Homeserve are experimenting with the Tado system,

Did anyone else attend the show this year? Your thoughts about the show?

Recording voiceover for an e-learning course

I have been recording some podcasts for a leadership programme. One of the modules was Giving Feedback.

In order to record the voiceover I used Recordium on the iPad, the free version (sound quality was good, in comparison to the microphone attached to my laptop), and converted the mp4 file to an mp3 using, it was then edited using Audacity (free sound editing software).

Any free audio recording or editing software that you’d like to share?

Clear desk interaction

Today I’d like to share the creation of an activity to highlight a clear desk policy.

This is a simple photograph of a messy office desk.


Converted into a cartoon using


Using Photoshop I cut out the individual items, like the monitor and drawer etc. Then using storyline 1 I inserted the individual items and changed the states of them. When the learner hovers, the item get’s enlarged. When clicked, a trigger takes them to a layer of information and then the item becomes green when visited.

End result is the following image:

desk final

I can enhance this by adding a score, allowing the learner to earn points, by selecting the correct items that might lead to an information security breach. In order to make it difficult, I would not have an enlarge item state when the learner hovers, and get the learner to think what the correct answers might be.

Training Initiatives should be created as Learning Campaigns

A Learning Campaign could consist of key messages being delivered via:

Cloud 2

Blogs, E-mails, Face to face delivery, Online webcasts, Recordings of offline presentations, Posters, E-books, Screen saver, Video, Animation, Virtual classroom, Competitions, Themed informal events, Surveys, Quizzes, Top-up tests, E-learning modules.

You could add a social dimension, with discussion and sharing of useful knowledge.

Good campaigns have good stories that form a connection with the learner.

Have any of you created a Learning Campaign? Was it deployed over weeks, months or years? What was your experience?