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Developing a Script from an existing course

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galtDeveloping a Script from an existing course
by on Jun 4, 2005 at 6:20:58 pm

We are developing a video following an existing course, currently done with Powerpoint slides, still pictures, and a lot of Q&A. This class segment is usually 30 minutes and they have three instructors that individually teach this material. My plan is to audio record all three instructors teaching a class, having the audios transcribed, merge all three into one, and then use that as my content guide to develop a script before shooting. Anyone see any pitfalls to this apporach, or has anyone done it with success?

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Mark SuszkoRe: Developing a Script from an existing course
by on Jun 7, 2005 at 8:13:54 pm

To me the Q&A is often the most important part of these, how do you plan to handle that?

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galtRe: Developing a Script from an existing course
by on Jun 7, 2005 at 8:41:18 pm

Our thought is that by recording three different Q & A's , we should get all the Q's and have a choice of best A's. A few answers may need some polish. But we will not have questions in the final script, just information. (I think?)

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Mark SuszkoRe: Developing a Script from an existing course
by on Jun 8, 2005 at 5:14:57 pm

"Our thought is that by recording three different Q & A's , we should get all the Q's and have a choice of best A's"

You will never get ALL the best questions, just the most common. Questions are the heart of the matter. Good questions always beat a canned speech, because they create active learning, not passive reception.

This whole area is one where I get my dander up with some otherwise fine clients. Galt, I'm not saying this is you, understand. But I get a lot of jobs where someone hands me a powerpoint slide show that accompanied someone's stand-up presentation and they say: "this will be our training video". Almost as bad, I'm asked to record someone reading the powerpoints out loud to the camera and add the slides as cutaway, so to...gether....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz The clients are contented with this, as far as they are concerned, this has met the bare minimum requirement on some piece of paper. My guess is most of these kind of tapes are shoved into a drawer once completed and never again looked at by anyone, except as punishment, like Vogon poetry readings.

I am not a trained instructional designer, but I do know empirically that this is not the way to go;-)

There is no reason to read the book aloud, at a speed assuredly slower than their silent reading speed, and present material linearly, to people who know how to read, and have at least some familiarity with the material. There is no need to tape a lecture if it ONLY covers the written material. Unless you are making a book on tape, course for the blind, or podcast to listen to in your car on long commutes. If I was a teacher, I would assign the reading, assume it WAS read, then come to class and only ask and answer questions based on it. To do less is to disrespect the audience and waste their time.

What I try to convince clients, usually without success, (because it costs more time and money, not because they aren't sympathetic) is that the audience deserves to control their learning and self-direct it.

I think a better way to go is at least to make the PPT slides into HTML pages (an automatic feature in powerpoint) or chapters of a simple DVD so you can self-direct your way thru the material, skipping what you already grasp and concentrating more on what you don't yet understand, all at your own pace. And putting that online makes it cheap because you don't spend money for tape dubs or DVD's, thus no waste, dubbing, or shipping costs, and updating is easier. And at least this way tries somewhat to imitate the question and answer Socratic learning model that the best teachers use.

In your case, I think what I might try is to add a simple multiple-choice comprehension pop quiz every couple minutes. If they choose right, the lecture continues. If they demonstrate a poor grasp by picking the wrong answer, no point in continuing ahead, so branch or loop back to an explanation of why that's the wrong answer, or additional supportive material that the rest of the audience would be bored by, then ask the question again until they get the right answer. Yes, this is definitely more work than taping a lecture, but if it's results and retention and a real understanding we're after, I think this is a better way.

I'm not saying all lectures are bad. When the speaker is a world expert on a topic, it can be the worst quality presentation in the world, as long as the vital information is important enough, people will eat up every word. I had that experience once as a consumer, with a video on child discipline techniques. The production values were cringeworthy, yet I let them slide because I hungered for the material. Not every topic can work this way, though.

When you want to go beyond merely presenting a concept to actually teaching it, now you need some kind of informational give and take, Q & A, test and proof. Ideally, a live teacher does this, because it's hard to automate this kind of thing, it's like jazz. But I think self-directed interactivity is a good compromise when you can't keep the live body there to talk to.

So, what do you think? Is the type of course you're doing going to benefit from adding the interactivity? Why or why not?

See? I gotcha!;-)

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galtRe: Developing a Script from an existing course
by on Jun 8, 2005 at 5:49:06 pm

Well Mark, thanks for the extensive reply. But it is a great solution to the wrong problem. The half hour segment being prepped for video is a plant tour. Right now they use PP slides, with some instructor explanation and a ton of questions. I just want to do a video tour that covers all the common questions and information. Rather than sit down for hours and days with the instructors to develop a script, I thought we could record audio and use that as the basis for the script. Then we will go shoot video to support whatever the final script looks like. It probably takes a 30 minute live q&a presentation down to 12-15 minutes, with much better organization and visuals than is currently provided. Then they can still ask any esoteric questions not covered by the video.

My question was whether this was a viable way to develop a script, if anyone had any warnings or gotchas about the process, not whether the project should exist. (I ask that FIRST). But thanks for trying to help.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Developing a Script from an existing course
by on Jun 8, 2005 at 6:20:50 pm

Well, as Emily Litella would say, "That's very different then";-)
I wouldn't have gone running my mouth off so much if you'd mentioned up front that it was not so much a class as a tour.;-)

OTOH, and just because I'm in that kind of mood...

I can see and sympathize that you're trying to find an "efficient" way to handle this job, to use a relatively non-loaded word. As someone who often writes scripts as part of my job, I'm familiar with the idea of "making it radio, then adding pictures to match it", which is the shortcut you seem to be looking at. For a low-stakes project that has no agenda but to display something, this can give passable results, but it is not at all optimal. The best produced programming has this quality to it: you can "get it" just by looking at the images with no sound, and you can "get it" just listening to the audio with a blank screen. But you really "GET IT" when the two combine to reinforce each other. And that's why good scripts take time and talent (and thus expense) to do.

Again, I suspect I'm getting too grand and highfalutin' for what you want to accomplish here, and after this, I will butt out. But I have seen tour videos done using the "just write a narration, then back-fill the holes with video" method, and to get technical, they usually suck, especially if they are supposed to get you at all emotionally connected to the material. Again, if your tour is of the "here's where the knobs are, don't put your fingers in there" variety, feel free to ignore this post.

These guys have an interesting approach to a plant tour:

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galtRe: Developing a Script from an existing course
by on Jun 8, 2005 at 6:48:10 pm

Thanks Mark,

It's a new client, and this is a "trial" project. I want to do simple, cheap, effective. Its a small plant, with only a handful of processes. But evidently the students have a lot of interest in the technical details. I could probably shoot it in a day and then add a narrative. But this will insure that I have enough of what they (students) want to see and hear. It may even end of with some simple animation.

I didn't mention the tour because I thought that would confuse things more, as people told me how to shoot a tour...

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Mark SuszkoRe: Developing a Script from an existing course
by on Jun 8, 2005 at 7:34:04 pm

Good luck then. At Maurice Lenell, at least you got free cookies at the end of the tour;-)

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PeabodyRe: Developing a Script from an existing course
by on Jun 27, 2005 at 3:06:58 am

Struggled through a recent project for a construction company that is adding LCD screens to fast food drive-throughs and interior menu boards.
Sounds simple,---right?
Quoted the job. Client signed back a lower price,---and he would provide the video.
Video was terrible, but the money was good.
So I thought.
So I bit.
He handed me the video,----and a manual,---explaining that he needed all the information in the rather thick manual included.
He also wanted a 5 minute video.
Why would someone think that is possible?
So,---the impossible project.
Assembled usable clips. Wrote a pared back script from manual explaining that I needed pictures to write to,---and some didn't exist
I handled changes and additions with text overlays and stills.
I would NOT recommend taking on such a job ever again or handling it this way.
Half way through the editing process, the client said to me, "next time I think it would be best for you to shoot it as well."
Gee, really?.
I think in this case,---a instructional video for construction crews,---the best way to go is to get a thorough understanding of the procedures, then write the script.I use Final Draft AV. Prepare a shot list,---even a storyboard and off you go with your production crew. Then it's in to post, assemble video,---add narration, music, animation etc.
That's the easiest way. And it can work for such a proejct as this.

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