Capturing the knowledge and know-how of a subject matter expert can feel like holding onto a single drop of water in the ocean. Even when experts provide presentation slides, these typically consist of bullet points with no annotations or notes.
Experienced designers typically rely on interviews to get inside the brain of an expert. Although you can always take handwritten or typed notes, recording the interview or presentation provides accuracy and allows you concentrate on what the SME is saying.
Here are some tools for recording interviews to use for content development of learning experiences or as an asset to be shared with a community. It’s not a bad idea to have a back-up plan, so consider using two tools simultaneously. And always get permission to record.
1. IN-PERSON VIDEO RECORDING
VIDEO RECORD A PUBLIC EVENT
Subject matter experts often give presentations, lectures or teach a class. Set up a video camera on a tripod but don’t point the camera at the presenter who will probably move in and out of the shot. Instead, aim at the slides. Capturing the expert’s audio while viewing the slides is extremely helpful during course development.
VIDEO RECORD A PRIVATE SESSION
Your SME may be willing to provide a private session with corresponding slides. In this case, a small pocket video camera on a mini-tripod works well. Locate the camera on the desk or conference table pointing at the computer slide show.
I recently tried this with a pocket video camera and it worked well. Although some of the most popular and reasonably priced pocket video cameras are no longer manufactured, you can still find a few under $100. If you need high-quality audio, check the Zoom Q2HD. You can also set up a digital tablet on a tripod or use a smartphone. For the best audio, use an external mic when possible. See Microphones for eLearning for more on this.
If you’re session is taking place in a cramped office with a crowded desk, you may be able to use a tripod clamp on a bookshelf. So consider carrying one of these along too.
2. IN-PERSON AUDIO RECORDING
RECORD AUDIO INTO LAPTOP
Recording your interview directly into a laptop is another alternative. The most well-known free audio recording and editing software is Audacity. Be sure to read the documentation as Audacity is easy to use, but has some quirks.
In terms of microphones, audio specialists recommend an omnidirectional mic if you’re sharing one with the interviewee and unidirectional mics if you each have your own. If you need higher sound quality than what a laptop can provide, consider using a portable audio interface as it will improve the sound.
RECORD AUDIO WITH AUTHORING TOOL
If you’re using the SME to narrate a course or presentation, you can use the audio recording functionality found in many authoring tools. These allow the user to record a unique audio file for each slide. Articulate Presenter, iSpring Pro, Captivate and others have this capability.
RECORD AUDIO WITH DIGITAL RECORDER
A simple solution is to find a quiet conference room and simply place a digital audio recorder on the table. Do a sound check first to ensure you’re picking up both sides of the conversation. Use lapel microphones if needed. Digital audio recorders are not expensive. The Zoom brand has a good reputation for sound.
RECORD AUDIO WITH SMARTPHONE OR TABLET
Use a recording app and an external microphone to record audio with your smartphone or digital tablet.
iPhone and iPad Audio Recording Apps:
Android Audio Recording Apps:
3. REMOTE RECORDING
Skype is a popular tool of choice for remote audio or video conversations. Just ensure your SMEs have a decent headset with microphone. It’s worth sending them an inexpensive headset to ensure the audio is of decent quality. Although you won’t need broadcast quality audio, it needs to be sufficiently audible for you or a transcriptionist to hear clearly. Skype does not come with recording functionality, so you’ll need recording software. See below.
Skype Recording Software:
- Call Recorder: Records Skype video and audio on a Mac.
- Pamela: Records Skype video and audio on a PC
- Audio Hijack Pro: Records audio from any source on a Mac
- Total Recorder: Records audio from any source on a PC
CONFERENCE CALL RECORDING VIA PHONE
Not everyone has the technical know-how or the bandwidth to use Skype. Also, some subject matter experts may feel more comfortable chatting over the telephone. Conference call and webinar services can record your phone calls delivered as an MP3 file. Be sure to select “record call” as an option.
4. SCREENCAST RECORDING
You can also record SME interviews and presentations through screen recordings. This is another way to capture voice with corresponding slides and/or computer screen. Use these applications to capture everything from Google Hangouts to screen sharing.
Screen Recording Software:
- ScreenCastle (Free, browser-based)
- ScreenFlow (Mac)
- Screencast.com (use with Camtasia and Snag-it)
- Call Recorder for Skype (Mac)
- Pamela for Skype (PC)
Consider getting the interview or presentation transcribed if having the text will lighten your workload or as a way to share the content with your audience.
Transcribe (makes transcribing while controlling audio easier – for Chrome browser)
Transcription Services: (I have not used any of these.)
STORING FILES AND SHARING
If you want to share your media files, you’ll need somewhere to store them. Cloud storage services typically provide some free storage, shareable links and file size uploading limits. In some cases, as with Dropbox, there is no upload file size limit (up to your storage capacity) using their desktop or mobile app, but there is a limit uploading directly through the website.
Storage in the Cloud:
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Events in Spring 2013:
April 30 2013: Your Brain On Graphics Presentation. Hosted by ASTD Raleigh.
May 30 2013: Design Like A Pro Workshop in NYC. Hosted by STC NYC and ASTD.