Replacing face-to-face lectures with recorded lectures – good practice

Regardless of the situation in September, large face-to-face lectures are now off the agenda. Content delivery is in a new era. Here is a guide to creating desktop recordings that will keep your students engaged and help you make the most of your contact time.

Tips for engaging students with your video resource

Keep it short

There are various statistics about the length of attention spans, but of course there will always be a certain amount of content that needs to be delivered that cannot necessarily just be condensed into a shorter timeframe. It is not about providing less content, but about breaking it up into more manageable sections.

The beauty of asynchronous resources is that students can manage this themselves to a large extent. They can pause the video while they take notes or absorb the information, replay sections they did not understand, and take breaks whenever they need to. However, you can help by providing set points at which to stop and reflect. Consider recording a series of 10-20 minute videos rather than a 1 hour lecture. And even within those, you can have points where you pause, ask students to reflect or try something out, or summarise what you have covered before going on to the next point.

Make it active

One way to add a pause and give students time to digest the information they have received is to add an interactive element. A short multiple choice quiz can help students gauge whether they have understood the content. Ending on a reflective question will give them a cue to think back over what they have just watched and perhaps apply it to their own situation. Or you could set some questions in advance, and prime students to watch the video with these questions in mind.

Flip the classroom

A true flipped classroom approach requires students to prepare for face-to-face sessions and engage with the material beforehand. Make this explicit and explain the approach to your students. Asynchronous activities are then no longer ‘homework’ but essential groundwork for productive class time, whether that is in person or in a webinar. If you make this the regular format of your module, your students will soon realise that failure to undertake these tasks means not only are they disadvantaged, but they are being unfair to their classmates by not coming prepared. This kind of accountability can help boost engagement.

See our articles on ‘Flipped’ learning – what is it? and Using video to flip the classroom.

Audio is key

Students will quickly switch off if your presentation is inaudible or there are distracting background noises. Always do a test recording first, to check volume levels and ensure the quality is acceptable. Use a headset for best results.

Make it accessible

For accessibility reasons, providing captions and transcripts for your video recordings is highly recommended. If you are working from a script, you can easily convert that to a transcript file. Manual captioning is very time consuming, but auto-captioning with a quick edit to correct any major errors may be sufficient for most needs. Make a point of speaking clearly, and use a headset. The better your audio quality, the more accurate your auto-captioning is likely to be.

Remember it may not just be students who are hearing-impaired that make use of captions and transcripts. Many people find that captions improve their comprehension. Captions also allow people to make use of the videos even in situations where audio is unavailable.

Label it

Give your video resources meaningful names, not just the date of the recording. Use the description field in Blackboard to let your students know how to use the resource – does it need to be watched by a certain date? What should they be concentrating on when they watch it? Also, be consistent with the location; avoid making students have to hunt through Blackboard every time you add a resource. Whether you set out your materials week by week, or have a single folder for all your video resources, keep to the same structure throughout the module.

Using advanced features in Panopto

We recommend Panopto for your desktop recordings. You may already be familiar with the basics of Panopto through lecture capture. But Panopto has a number of features which will help you make more interactive, engaging and accessible desktop recordings.

Panopto is available to all UWE staff, and is linked with Blackboard so that you can easily deliver your content to the correct module cohort.


Panopto has its own quiz feature, which allows you to build your multiple choice questions into the video resource itself. You can have more than one quiz, and position them at any point in the recording.

See Adding Quizzes in Panopto.

Weblinks and YouTube

You can link out to websites within the video itself. The webpage will appear in the video playback window and can be interacted with like in a web browser. Students simply press Play to continue the video when they are ready.

You can use this feature to set a research exercise, or link to a browser-based activity such as a Mentimeter poll. There is also the capability to show all or part of a YouTube video from within your own recording.

Notes and bookmarking

Students can make their own notes and bookmarks within Panopto, as well as make public comments. These features can be used for collaborative work and annotation tasks.


Panopto auto-captioning has been much improved, and is a quick way to make your recordings more accessible. Note that in some cases students may still need extra reasonable adjustments.

Useful links

Using Panopto

Installing Panopto

Desktop recording (using Panopto) (includes tips on creating a good quality recording)

Using Panopto to create desktop recordings – video guides

Further information on video learning

Video for learning –15 things the research says


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels