Maintaining Instructor Presence Online

Babs Carryer of the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute was developing a new course on innovation and the development of medical technology. Since this course would be taught in a flipped format, Ms. Carryer recorded lectures on video. She wanted these video lectures to use graphics in the same way she used them in face-to-face classrooms: each slide projected for a long time as a sort of reference for students during the lecture rather than a visual explanation of a specific point. This required students to be able to choose when to turn their attention from the lecturer to the slide and back. After exploring several techniques, I found that using a split screen format was the best at simulating this sort of face-to-face experience. Ms. Carryer was constantly visible to engage the audience through the video, but the right third of the screen could be used to display other visual content for as long as necessary. To keep this “extra” space from competing too heavily for attention, I used only very simple graphics with a limited color palette drawn from the background of the video. The result was a series of videos that effectively used graphic elements without losing instructor presence.