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The 2020 Educator’s Guide to Video: Recording Tips & Hardware Recommendations

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While many of our tips for teachers around recording good quality video in the classroom have seen little change since we shared them back in 2016, with so many more educators relying on video to reach students, it seemed like a good time to revisit and refresh the list.

While we don’t think you need anything other than a smartphone or tablet to capture quality videos (and the TORSH Talent App to make video recording and uploading seamless), these tips and hardware recommendations will only optimize the outcome.

Audio is Imperative

As visuals that accompany lessons are presented using platforms like Google Classroom, Flipsnack, Animoto, Scratch, and other platforms, being heard during the initial presentation and recording are vital to student engagement. If using a phone or tablet, it is important to note that mobile devices are not designed for the best possible audio recording quality. Even laptops have less than stellar built-in microphones. We suggest using an external microphone when recording video on your smartphone or tablet. This is particularly useful when recording large groups or in large rooms.

Microphone Recommendation: Nolan MIC2 Bluetooth Microphone ($69)

This Bluetooth mic makes it easy to record clear quality audio in the classroom when connected via Bluetooth to your device. This is particularly useful when recording large groups or in large rooms.

  • Easily connect to any smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth – no adapters necessary
  • Works with iOS and Android devices
  • Enhance and improve the audio quality of your classroom recordings
  • Ensure better audio transcription

Other Microphone Recommendations:

Capture Steady, Hands-Free Shots with the Help of a Tripod

Make sure you are keeping your camera steady when recording. Incorporating the use of a tripod or stand to hold your mobile device will help you to achieve a much smoother result.

Tripod Recommendation: AmazonBasics Tripod with Accmor Adapter ($30)

This lightweight tripod allows educators to record high quality “hands-free” video recordings of entire classroom sessions. With the addition of a tripod adaptor, educators can use any smartphone, tablet, or camera to record video.

  • Record stable video using a tripod-adapter combination
  • Support hands-free video capture even when recording solo
  • Use tripod on desk/table, or expand up to 60” tall to use without a desk/table
  • Ensure optimal recording with the built-in level to adjust the frame

Other Tripod Options:

Go for the Wide Shot

Whether capturing video in a classroom environment for teacher observations or self-recording; be sure to set the camera to film in landscape. In the classroom, you’ll want the widest angle to show on film. When it’s just you on camera for a self-recording session or when presenting class online, be sure that your head, shoulders, and elbows are in the frame. This allows you to have hands showing, in the event that you are using any form of sign language. If you are using a phone or tablet, be sure to film horizontal and that your screen rotation is turned off when recording.

If you’re having trouble capturing a complete view of the classroom using just a tripod, consider adding an external lens to your setup. Wide-angle lenses can allow you to capture a larger view of a room, expanding the viewing angle up to 4x. These lenses can be detached from the device, so you can remove it when it’s not in use. 

Wide-Angle Lens Recommendations: Luxsure® Universal 3-in-1 Clip Cell Phone Camera Lens Kit ($29.99)

This kit comes with a fisheye, macro, and wide-angle lens. The wide-angle lens will probably be most useful in capturing a classroom. 

  • Expands the viewing angle 4x.
  • Macro lens is used for taking footage of details up close. 
  • Fisheye lens also expands the viewing angle but captures round images instead of square ones
  • The lenses are compatible with most mobile phones and can be detached.

Other Wide-Angle Lens Option:

Best Practices – No Additional Hardware Required

Engage Airplane Mode 

Keep incoming calls, text, and app messages from cutting off or impacting your recording by putting your phone in airplane mode. 

Lights (before Camera, Action)

Avoid placing the subject in front of windows or other direct sources of light and make sure the room is well-lit. If the lighting is too direct or if there is not enough light, you will lose detail in the video. 

Digital Zoom Discouraged 

Using a phone or tablet’s digital zoom can significantly decrease the quality of the video. Instead, try moving the device closer to what you are trying to capture. 

Make It Quick 

Try not to record the whole lesson, but to keep videos between 15-20 minutes. Videos should focus on one topic or concentration area. This helps your coaches and fellow educators provide constructive feedback. If you need to record the entire lesson, you can then clip smaller portions for self-reflection, coaching, and feedback purposes.

Whether you’re capturing classroom interactions for observation to upload to TORSH Talent, presenting lessons online, or just capturing for self-reflection, these tips should serve you well in any of these scenarios.


PLEASE NOTE: All pricing and availability of recommended hardware is accurate as of the date this article was published. Torsh does not have any affiliation with Amazon or the brands suggested.

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