Saturday, February 24, 2018

Recording Audio in PowerPoint

With Office Mix being discontinued, the most efficient and robust way to record audio in PowerPoint 2016 is now by using the Recording tab. It is much better than the regular Slide Show tab as it gives you a countdown before starting to record, lets you change/verify the mic in use, and you can add webcam video of yourself to the PowerPoint.

In the video below, I show how to enable the recording tab if it is not in your ribbon and how to record and export.

I don't get into this in the video, but you can also insert a screen recording right in a PowerPoint slide using the Recording tab, which is a nice feature. It exports as a part of the final mp4 and plays on the slide you recorded it in. I also don't mention or demo the inking features to write on the slide, but they are a nice feature as well.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Dissertation Study Results

In my experiment, participants (N = 128) were randomly assigned to a group who saw video of me speaking in the corner (visible instructor group) or a group who saw the exact same slides and heard the exact same narration without seeing me (slides only group). I recorded the video with myself in it using Camtasia and just removed myself for the slides only version so the only difference is my visibility (see screenshots below). They completed the study in the location of their choice, not in a lab. The topic was designing PowerPoint slides using the assertion-evidence approach. I posted it on YouTube too. I would have liked to re-record it 10 more times to perfect it, but I had to move on with my life!

Visible instructor on the left - slides only on the right
During the video, questions appeared for both groups three times, at 3:06, 7:42, and 10:43 (the end), asking participants if they were paying attention, mind wandering, or doing something else entirely (multitasking). Then participants came back to the survey and…

·      Indicated their satisfaction (7-point Likert scale).
·      Responded to the 12 items of the Student-Instructor Connectedness Scale which is a validated instrument that assesses the relationship between an instructor (me) and a student (participant). Students were instructed to imagine I was really their instructor for a class. Here are two of the questions as examples: “The instructor is concerned with the needs of her students,” and “It’s easy to connect with this instructor.” Responses were on a 7-point Likert scale.
·      Indicated how many times they multitasked during the video (0-10+) and estimated how long they paid attention.
·      Provided demographic information.

Here is a very short summary of the results (the other version is 15 pages!):

First the easy one: satisfaction. Participants who saw me in the video were significantly more satisfied with the video (p = .004, r = -.25). Those numbers mean it was almost a medium level effect. Yay! This adds to some previous research that looked at preferences (not exactly satisfaction) and found conflicting info.

Overall connectedness scores were also significantly higher for the participants who saw me in the video (p = .002, r = -.29). It was just a hair short of a medium level effect. Yay again! Three of the 12 questions were not significant, but I didn’t find that surprising since they were the more personal ones that would be more difficult to get from just watching a video vs having an actual relationship with an instructor.

I am particularly excited about the connectedness finding since related studies found no difference, but they were measuring “social presence” in various ways and I used a validated instrument in a well-controlled experiment with an adequate number of participants.

Attention is the most complicated since it consisted of the questions that appeared during the video and the survey questions after. To make a long story short, there were no significant differences. If I was doing a presentation now, I’d play the sad trombone sound. I really thought I was on to something here. The overall attention levels reported are pretty consistent with other studies who found students pay attention to instructional videos about 57% of the time (kind of sad, huh?). 

I was actually surprised by all of this and expected the opposite! When I’m all done with my dissertation, I’d like to do a follow up study without the in-video questions to assess attention since they may have inadvertently helped students pay attention better (I’m not giving up on this yet) and include a test on the material.

I’m also curious what the results would have been like with a different person in the video or if the person didn’t make eye contact with the webcam (I did!). I should also note that I followed the principles of the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning to develop a presentation that facilitates learning and I went through 28 slides in less than 11 minutes, meaning I really broke down the information and my slides were image-based and not too wordy. 

So, based on this information, I would recommend for instructors, particularly those teaching online, to include webcam video of themselves to improve student satisfaction and connectedness -- two aspects that can contribute to building a successful learning environment (my lit review goes into detail about this with many sources!). 

Overall, I’m glad I picked this topic because I’m genuinely interested in it and learned a lot! I have to include a big thank you to everyone who helped me with this and provided emotional support, particularly as I obsessively checked my responses in Qualtrics while the study was open (especially Avonlea and Tiffany!). I just submitted a draft of chapter 4 and will definitely be done with my PhD by June at the latest! (FYI comments are moderated due to spam but I'll check and release non-spammy ones).

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Office Mix: A Good Solution for Audio in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows

If you have the newest version of PowerPoint (2016) and you like to add audio to the slides, it is now essential to download the PowerPoint add-in Office Mix or when you export the video, the speaker icons will still be visible on the slides.

UWEC people can download Office Mix on a university computer from the UWEC appstore by going to in Internet Explorer (sorry Mac users - this is only available on Windows). You can also download Office Mix on personal computers from the Microsoft website. When it asks you to sign in, you can choose Work/School account and enter your UWEC email address.

Office Mix integrates right into PowerPoint in a tab called Mix, so it's pretty user friendly. I recommend recording audio right through the Mix tab (Slide Recording - far left) rather than using the Slide Show tab that was recommended in PPT 2013. In other words, you can do all your recording and exporting under the Mix tab.

The recording interface via the Mix tab has many advantages over the old recording interface (screenshot below) including seeing your mic audio to know if it is picking up, inking/annotating, seeing your slide notes, recording your webcam video, and choosing when to record vs starting automatically in the old version. 

Below is a screenshot of it with the Export to Video button highlighted. It's important to export to video so you can upload the mp4 to Kaltura (if you're at UWEC) and share it with students in a format that is easily accessible to them. Not all students can access audio through the .ppt file.

You can now/still...
  1. Record slide by slide, so if you make a mistake just stop and re-record! It will ask if you want to overwrite, so it's more difficult to accidentally record over good recordings. 
  2. See lines moving by the microphone to know it is picking up audio and verify that the correct mic is being used. 
  3. Easily access the inking tools if you want to circle or write something on the slide.
  4. Hit record when you're ready (the old way would just start automatically).
  5. Record your webcam as a small window within the PowerPoint or as the whole slide. It didn't turn out in the screenshot, but it should be viewable on the top left side under Audio and Video.
  6. See your slide notes! 
  7. Export it and upload to Kaltura so the students can view it easily on all devices and platforms.
Office Mix has additional functions like inserting a screencast and adding quiz questions, but it needs to be hosted on Microsoft's site for those features to work. However, Kaltura now has quizzing and if you need to add a screencast, an instructional designer can help you figure out the easiest way! 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Tips for Offering Virtual Participation for a Conference

Virtual conferences and virtual participation for face-to-face conferences are becoming more common. The UW System LTDC just put on the 3rd annual virtual showcase (entirely online), and I was super impressed with the organization and coordination involved from the perspective of a participant and presenter. The recordings are now available if you want to check them out.

Conferences that are both online and face-to-face at the same time are a challenge. I've been on both ends of this: as the facilitator of the face-to-face meeting trying to make things work for the online people as well as an online participant in a primarily face-to-face conference. I would like to share some tips to make this process more effective.
  1. If you're planning on having the online participants fully participate, hold the meeting in a distance education room that's outfitted with mics for people in the room and technology that allows participants to see both screen sharing and the presenter. I frequently use web conferencing tools in my office, and I admit I wondered why we even need these rooms because Skype is fine, right? Just set up a laptop and a Yeti mic and call it good. No. I was wrong. If you are dealing with a group of people in a room transmitting to online people, you should have a room set up to accommodate the situation.
    • On a related note, attempting to repeat questions/comments from the audience just does not work. People forget, and there's usually a lot lost in the summary. Plus the volume varies considerably.
  2. Involve a person who does web conferencing for his/her job. At least, have a person like this on speed dial, consult with him/her ahead of time, and do a test in the room. I thought that my personal use of web conferencing would suffice since I often hold and participate in online meetings, but it's a bigger deal when it's a whole room and you're flustered in front of a group. People specialize in this.
  3. Have a virtual participation coordinator (I just made up that title!). This is a person in the room specifically dedicated to the online people - kind of like the lifeline to the room. One person cannot do both the online technology and facilitate the meeting and/or present. 
  4. If you have breakout/discussion sessions, you might need to provide a little extra guidance to the online people because communication is less natural in a web conference. Distractions abound and people are reluctant to speak. The virtual participation coordinator should facilitate, not just make sure things are okay and leave.
  5. Be prompt or at least let the online people know if things are running late. The face-to-face group knows if lunch was late or some other distraction is delaying the start of a session, but the online people are left wondering.
  6. If you do intros face-to-face, include the online people too! Try to give them a comparable experience, or let them know it will not be if that is the case.
  7. Provide expectations up front. Are the online participants going to just listen in to a live stream without interaction or participate through chat only? Or are you going to want them to share their webcam and mic and interact? Prepare them, so they change out of their pajamas and have a mic ready if necessary. 
  8. Get the PowerPoints out to the online participants ahead of time in case the technology malfunctions. Then if you have to choose whether to show a video of the presenter or a screensharing of the PowerPoint, you can share the video because they will have the PowerPoint.
  9. Plan well and consider both groups. Some activities done face-to-face aren't going to work well with the online group. For instance, if you have different tables talk about different topics simultaneously, what do the online people do? How can they pick a table/topic? Can you have technology at each table so the online people can choose their table? Then how do you make it so the online people can see who is talking at the table? If you can't make it comparable, let the online people know and charge much less. 
  10. Try to create opportunities for the face-to-face people to interact with the online people if possible. I think the coolest way to do this is if you have access to a telepresence robot who can move around to different tables. These feel more person-like, but maybe a few iPads would do the job? Watch out for feedback, though, and someone will need to be on hand to orient them to see whoever is speaking if it's at a table. 
It is possible to offer both synchronous face-to-face and online participation in an event, but a lot of work is involved in planning and setting up technology. Be prepared! If you have additional tips, please share in the comments (comments are moderated due to spam but I'll release any that are legitmiate).

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A Study on Recording Videos of Diagrams

Here's a summary of one of the most interesting research articles I've read about multimedia learning. This is a series of experiments with about 100 participants in each. Screenshots are from the article.

Experiment 1: Full Body 


In this experiment, they split the participants into three groups who watched videos with the same content and audio, but different presentation styles. One group (screenshot on the left) saw the presenter talk through an already-drawn diagram explaining the content. The middle screenshot is of the presenter drawing the diagram as she talks through it. The right side screenshot shows the presenter pointing at an already drawn presentation.

Results: Seeing the diagram being drawn improved learning for people with low prior knowledge. This highlights how novice learners have different needs than learners with more expertise. This is called the expertise reversal effect and has been researched extensively. It's one reason we need to consider our audience when designing instruction.

Experiment 2: Hand Only 


This time they compared audio explanation of an already drawn diagram (no hand or body) with a version that showed the diagram being drawn with the hand.

Results: The group who saw the hand drawing the diagram performed better. In this case, prior knowledge did not matter.

Experiment 3: No Hand


At this point, the question is whether seeing the hand or seeing the diagram being drawn caused the improvement in experiment 2. Researchers then used an iPad app to record a diagram being drawn and one already drawn (both with audio), no hand in either condition.

Results: No difference was recorded, leading them to conclude the difference was due to the hand. This was surprising to me because it seems clearly better to see the diagram being drawn instead of simply staring at a stagnant drawing while listening to a lecture. This was a very short presentation (around 2 minutes), so I'm curious what would happen if it was longer. Prior knowledge did not matter.

Experiment 4: Body vs Hand 


The last experiment compared being able to see the hand with being able to see the body in the recording.

Results: The group who saw the hand performed better. Fiorella and Mayer speculated that the hand provides enough of a visual cue to stimulate a social connection with the instructor, which helps motivate the learner (social agency theory) whereas seeing more of the instructor can be a distraction.

I presented on this at a conference yesterday, and a participant asked if the size could have made a difference, since the version with the hand is more zoomed in. That's a good point; the researchers didn't address it. 

I wish they would have compared drawing with the hand to drawing without the hand on the iPad app so there was a true hand/no hand experiment and lengthen it to about 7 minutes instead of 2 so it's more realistic. Experiment 2 compared hand to no hand, but included the variable of being drawn or already drawn.

The point, though, seems to be that the hand provides a valuable social cue. This is good news for instructors who like to write on paper under a document camera and record it to make a video. This is a low tech solution that can be done in an empty classroom. Writing on a whiteboard as they did in these screenshots is a good option, but I think a little more difficult because you need to stay in a particular spot or have someone record it for you. In addition, you might need to wear a mic to get clear audio since the video camera wouldn't be as close as a document camera.


Fiorella, L., & Mayer, R. E. (2015). Effects of observing the instructor draw diagrams on learning from multimedia messages. Journal of Educational Psychology. Advance online publication.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Exporting a PowerPoint with Audio as a Video on a Mac Using the Virtual Lab

Recording audio into PowerPoint is advantageous because it creates a separate recording for each slide, so if you make a mistake, it's easy to just re-record one slide rather than edit using a more complicated program like Camtasia. It's also nice to avoid introducing an additional program into the process for people who are less adventurous technologically since PowerPoint is often familiar.

To record audio in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac, just go to the Slide Show tab and choose Record Slide Show. Bam! You're recording.

  • Make sure to stop recording after one slide and listen to verify the mic is working.
  • If you are using PowerPoint 2011 for Mac, the audio may not carry over to Windows. Do a test first. It's been inconsistent for me.
  • Use a traditional font like Helvetica, Arial, Calibri, etc so that you don't have font issues when you open the PowerPoint on Windows. 
  • Do not just give students the PowerPoint file. Students will inevitably experience problems with it.

Instead, export the PowerPoint as a video (mp4, ideally) and stream it from somewhere like Kaltura or YouTube. Then you can just distribute a URL or embed it into D2L. It's a little more work now, but less work later since you won't need to figure out why some students can't access it.
Unfortunately, Mac users need the Windows version of PowerPoint to export their PowerPoint as an mp4. I have a solution that lets you continue using your Mac though!

Use the Virtual Lab to Access Windows on Your Mac and Export the PPT as an MP4 (UWEC specific)

You can physically go to a Windows computer, but if you want to stay on your Mac we have a good option at UWEC: the virtual lab (Lab Anywhere). It's basically like running a general lab computer in your browser. Weird and awesome!

It is pretty easy to use the virtual lab. Access it through a browser by going to

Download the client if you would like or choose the option on the right for HTML access, login with your UWEC username and password, then choose Win 10 Gen Access Lab. It might take a few minutes to login.

1. When logged in, open up your PowerPoint with audio. You will need to have saved it somewhere you can access it like you are on a different computer, since you kind of are (OneDrive, Dropbox, H or Projects Drive, etc.)

2. Look through the PowerPoint to see if any formatting needs to be fixed and make sure the audio still works.

3. Click the File tab on the top left.

4. Click Export

5. Choose Create a Video. Make sure it's on "Use Recorded Timings and Narrations." You probably don't need Large - it will take less time to export if you choose something else. Click the drop down on the right side to choose a different size.

6. Click Create Video again. Leave it on the default of MPEG-4 Video.

Remember that it is like you are logging in to a lab computer, so if you save things on the desktop they will be gone when you login again.

The progress window is pretty subtle. You'll see the image below at the bottom of your PowerPoint.

The white area will progress. If your PowerPoint is long (over 10 minutes or so) expect it to take a long time, particularly since you are in a virtual environment. Close out of other programs and let the computer's resources focus on this!

7. When it is done, upload the mp4 to Kaltura or YouTube and then share the URL with students or embed it in D2L. I personally don't keep the mp4s since the PowerPoint can be exported again and there's a copy on Kaltura.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Weekly Due Dates are Good for Procrastinating Online Learners

In past posts, I've mentioned that I am completing my PhD online in Education with a specialization in e-learning. Well, I made it through all my regular classes and am now in my Comprehensive Exam aka Comps class. Rather than sitting in a room for many hours writing long responses to questions that determine whether I continue to the dissertation process or not, I am in a 10-week long class that accomplishes the same purpose. I've heard that many programs both online and face-to-face are moving toward this multiple week process instead of the high stakes exam. Anyway, this has presented unique challenges that I thought I'd reflect on here (as a somewhat legitimate way to procrastinate!).

A primary difficulty for me, as a huge procrastinator, is that nothing is due until 10 weeks, which is January 3rd, 2016. We had unseasonably warm weather in October which made it extremely difficult to work on an assignment not due until January, so I didn't. Submitting outlines for feedback is recommended, however, so I've submitted them every other week which has actually split up my work oddly because I start one question's outline before I've completed writing the previous one (I have to write responses to four questions). Although it has been somewhat helpful to start mulling over a question, it has been more difficult to move into a new topic and then try to get back into the previous one again later. I also work on school only on the weekends, so with five days off, the content gets shelved in the back of my mind and each weekend I have to dust it off again.

I also don't use outlines in my writing normally. I just write and things work themselves out. Of course, I have some sort of plan going into it, but not an organized outline. I know this is not how you are supposed to write, but it has worked for me so far. So it feels inefficient for me to write an outline, then next weekend start on another question and submit an outline, then have to go back and interpret a previous outline when I'm actually ready to write.

Another difficulty for me is that I am struggling to develop interest in the questions. They're about the research process and theories that I didn't study earlier and my dissertation idea does not tie in, so that's been tough. I'm hoping that the dissertation process will be less painful because I will be interested in researching my idea.

There is also a lot of anxiety associated with a course called an "exam" that is pass or fail when nothing is due until the end (especially when the cost of retaking it is almost $3000). In the past, I quickly whipped up a 5-7 page paper each weekend because there was a clear due date each Sunday night. I had lower stakes ways to test the waters and I got to know the expectations of the instructor. Each week I thought I could do better if I tried harder or had more time, but I did fine. Now, with 10 weeks to write 40-60 pages, I am nearly paralyzed with perfection. Must have the best primary sources! Must use the perfect words! Seriously, I have had days where I stared at pdfs, unable to comprehend the words, because I was working myself up about it. My previous plan of just writing something to get it out there isn't working.

So what would work better for me? I wish this course was five weeks long rather than 10: a question per week with a week to look it all over and DONE. I'd take a few days off of work and just immerse myself in it. 10 weeks is too long. I told myself that after last weekend's torture when I was finally being productive on Sunday afternoon, that I needed to start working on it during the week too. I did well with that on Monday and then...not so much the rest of the week. I had stuff to do after work and thinking is hard after working all day. By the time Thursday came around I actually forgot that was even my plan.

At this point, if I could go back in time to when I was contemplating a PhD, I'd tell myself to not do it. Really. It has taken so much time and money that I can't guarantee will benefit me. However, last weekend I had an epiphany and thought that (hopefully) future me will look back at current me and say, "That wasn't so bad! Aren't you glad you did it?" Let's hope so anyway! I am way too far in to quit now. Better get back to it!