Top tips for making videos with a smartphone

Helen Port

Helen Bitmead has already taught us about the power of video-based learning to educate. But what if your filming budget is minimal or non-existent? Does that mean giving up on the whole video idea altogether – or is there another way? With a little thought and preparation, you might find that your smartphone is…smarter than you thought.

Everyone loves a video

The statistics on video marketing are astounding. According to some estimates 100 million internet users watch video each day, nearly 50% of internet users view at least one video online over the course of a month, and according to one researcher one minute of video has been estimated to be worth 1.8 million words. It’s not surprising, therefore, that video is such an important teaching tool. But telling a good story via video requires skill and experience. If you don’t get it right, you won’t engage your audience and nothing will be learned. But there will be times when you have a quick message to get out to your team, learners or customers and you simply can’t afford to bring in the professionals. So what do you do?

Smartphone to the rescue

‘I’ve got a smartphone with a camera; I’ll do it myself this time,’ you might think to yourself. Not a bad idea, but it needs to look at least half decent if you are representing your business. If you need to go down this path, therefore, Training Snippets has a few tips to help you avoid common pitfalls:

1. Before you start filmingmake sure you have enough free memory on your phone. This might sound obvious, but you would be surprised how many people get caught out. For one minute of video, you will need at least 200 MB of free space.

2. Make sure the camera lens is clean and the battery fully charged. Again, sounds obvious, until your battery runs out and you realise that your footage isn’t clear.

3. Choose an indoor position where there is plenty of light and it’s quiet. Stand your subject(s) on a spot or sit them on a low back chair to prevent them from moving around.

wong and corect positionin-new1


Position yourself
and the camera one meter away from your subject. Any further away and he will be too far from the microphone on the phone.  This will make the finished audio difficult to hear and your subject will sound like he is in an empty hall.



4. The phone should be the same heightas the person you are filming, so support your elbow on something such as a cushion or the arm of a chair. If you are standing use your free hand for support. This will help to prevent the shot from moving around too much and make the finished product look more professional.


5. Hold the phone sideways(landscape) rather than up and down (portrait).  If you do it this way, your video fills the screen instead of having black pillars either side with a long skinny picture – think about it as being the same shape as a television or computer screen.

6. Avoid zooming in on the phone, as this will make it too hard to hold steady. You will get better results if you move closer to your subject. And make sure the camera focus is on your subject by tapping on the person on the screen. This tells the camera to focus on the person rather than the background – you will see the focus box centre on them.


7. Be careful not to cover the microphone at the bottom of the phone (or the lens) with your hand.






8. Once you start filming keep the top of your subject’s head in shot and make sure that he speaks with a strong voice (no whispering).





9. You are now a filmmaker (of sorts)! Practice a few times until you’re happy with the results and, most importantly, have fun!

10. Please remember point number 6 – we see this one all the time.

11. And remember – some jobs are best left to the professionals. If smartphone footage will do then great, but for a polished finish you might need a hand.

Do you have more tips for smartphone filmmakers? Let us know.

Free handouts: Education technology trends in 2015

Jo NorburyJoanne is the content services manager at eWorks and a self-confessed e-learning geek. Specialising in learning solutions using digital technology, it is her job to stay up to date with the latest trends and innovations in this area. And that’s great – because then the rest of us can simply ask Jo. Here Jo shares key messages from her ACPET 2015 presentation on the latest emerging trends in digital learning, and – as promised – tells you where to access:
  1. An educational technology glossary of terms.
  2. An overview of commonly used software tools and applications used by vocational education and training (VET) teachers and trainers to deliver e-learning.
  3. A Totara 2.7 component overview.

How do you transform your learning delivery…

and get creative using educational technology? By staying up to date with emerging trends in digital learning. That means anything and everything from learning management to social learning, to mobility and accessibility, and voice, touch and gesture technology. But chances are you don’t have time to keep an eye on it all – there seems to be something new just about every day. How do we know which technologies are transient toys? Are they respected by educators and will any of them be around for the long-haul? What is everybody else doing? Most importantly, when is it safe to invest? These are just some of the questions that we considered at ACPET 2015.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

What a great turnout at the ACPET conference 2015. I was thrilled (and slightly terrified) to see that it was standing room only at my presentation on the latest emerging trends in digital learning. We started off by looking at the Internet of Things (IoT). The Internet of Things is made up of billions of smart devices using wireless technology to talk to each other. It is expected to grow from two billion objects in 2006 to 200 billion by 2020  – that’s around 26 smart objects for every human on the planet! So why all of these smart objects all of a sudden? Well, they give major industries the vital data they need to track inventory, manage machines, increase efficiency and save costs.

Flying cameras (aka drones)

Then we moved on to cameras more specifically, considering how technology has come such a long way, and that at the rate things are going we will soon be able to access cameras that have face recognition capabilities. And what about flying cameras – affordable, simple to fly drones? At around 800 dollars they are becoming far more affordable – there is even one in the latest Aldi (supermarket chain) catalogue. $99 gets you a drone with a camera that flies at a 50-meter distance. It only flies for seven minutes before you need to recharge, but even then – wow!

Point of view glasses

We also talked about point of view glasses, which allow you to film video and capture still images. These glasses are great for showcasing skills, creating point of view tutorial videos, recording assessment and more. Part of what makes them so great is that they are smart too (think IoT), so they record and Bluetooth the video to your device where you can use a smart video app (on an IOS devices I use YouTube’s Capture) to quickly edit and produce the video.

3D printers and holograms

What about 3D printers? Like flying cameras they are becoming more affordable. Imagine for a moment that instead of inkjet your printer prints with plastic dots that join together to form a 3D object. This isn’t sci-fi, it is actually coming to life – apparently Bunnings (hardware chain) will soon be selling them! This lead to holograms. One day, instead of sitting down to contact your students via phone or Skype or online forum, you could hologram into their lounge room. Yes, this could become reality. If Elvis, 37 years after his death, can perform a concert in Los Angeles (I’m not joking), it won’t be long before we can join in.

The 2015 Horizon Report

Assistive technology and student/user experience, including big data and what to do with it, are currently big trends according to the Horizon report of 2015, which states that Education is embarking on a … pursuit into data science with the aim of learner profiling, a process of gathering and analyzing large amounts of detail about individual student interactions in online learning activities. The report also suggests that a lack of comfort with digital strategies and how to use them to improve instruction is one of our greatest challenges. If you are a trainer or teacher it is important to remember that digital literacy is less about tools and more about thinking. If you make yourself just a little aware of what is out there, so that you can ask questions, things will become more affordable and easier to access, manage and use.

ACPET 2015 – been there, done that, here are the handouts

As promised we created a huge glossary of educational technology terms for 2015 for you, E-Standards for Training released the 2015 commonly used tools in VET, and we have also included an LMS component overview for Totara 2.7. Enjoy!

  1. An educational technology glossary of terms.
  2. An overview of commonly used software tools and applications used by vocational education and training (VET) teachers and trainers to deliver e-learning.
  3. A Totara 2.7 component overview.

Do you know of any similar documents that might be of interest to our readers? Do let us know

The power of video-based learning to educate

Helen Port

Helen Bitmead is the co-director of Training Snippets, an online library of mini videos that can be used to demonstrate workplace health and safety procedures, business development and soft skills. Helen has witnessed firsthand the power of video content to educate and is on a mission to get everyone on board. Recently becoming a VET Commons publisher was one big tick on the Training Snippets journey. Are you up to speed when it comes to video-based learning?

Videos are so 2015 (and beyond!)

Video content is emerging as one of the best forms of education no matter what age. This makes sense – for Gen Y and Z it is intuitive and a seamless way of learning. But even if you’re a little more ‘mature’ than that, I bet you have noticed that the way you access information has changed over the years, with a movement towards more video content. Who hasn’t turned to youtube to work out how to fix, operate, manage or simply view how something is done. And social media can certainly put its hand up for fuelling the unquenchable thirst for video content.

A crucial part of the education sector

As an administrator, video is the fastest growing part of the education sector globally and a huge trend at university level. For industry, it is consistent in its training approach and ticks a lot of boxes for compliance in industry, especially where there is an accountability factor such as Workplace Health and Safety. Combined with a learning management system (LMS) that tracks the videos within a course and includes a test to acknowledge that the recipient has understood the content, video training can be a very powerful tool.

‘You can learn anything’

Salman Khan is the founder of the Khan Academy, – a not-for-profit organisation that provides ‘a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere’ and produces micro lectures in the form of YouTube videos. It is worth watching his Ted Talks presentation that explains how Youtube seeded the idea and how he has helped thousands of people to learn with the help of videos.

What are training snippets?

Training Snippets creates short training video snippets that demonstrate correct workplace health and safety. To give an example of its application, we recently developed a series of nine driver training snippets in conjunction with Melbourne Health. Melbourne Health has 1000 registered drivers and some 300 vehicles across their networks and recognise the need to educate their staff when it comes to health and safety.   Melbourne Health has taken a different and innovative approach by using the video medium to train all their fleet car drivers from an operational and safety perspective. But you don’t have to read my thoughts on it all – why not take a look at a couple of the videos from the driver training series…. they say it all!

WorkCover Authority NSW is another example of how Training Snippets prove to be successful learning tools. WorkCover NSW has recently made a variety of training snippet video topics available for their members to access via their website. Here are a couple of examples.

A picture tells a thousand words

Training Snippets is very excited to now be offering content via VET Commons. If you haven’t yet joined this community, which gives you access to free and paid, ready-to-use content directly from your Moodle, you’re missing out.

A humanist approach to health and safety at last!

Annabel Dawson

Annabel Dawson is the project and custom manager for the higher education and vocational professional group at Cengage Learning. Annabel’s love for the world of academic publishing has only increased with the release of this humanistic approach to management, with an emphasis on health and safety. Whether you’re after a presentation on a specific topic, a chapter or the entire book, here is a little peak at what you will find inside.

A new perspective on health and safety

WHS: A Management Guide, 4e is now available to purchase through VET Commons by specific presentation, chapter or the entire book. The updated edition takes a humanist approach to management, attempting to go beyond the accepted understanding of health and safety as a form of risk management. While the concept of risk management lies at its core, WHS: A Management Guide, 4e consider how the workplace can satisfy human needs as much as organisational objectives. Only when we step beyond safety and speak not just of physical health, but also of psychological and social needs, do we begin to see what vital, active working lives can be.

Cover of the 4th edition of WHS: A Management Guide

The legal stuff

In the previous edition of WHS: A Management Guide, the Model Work Health and Safety Act made its introduction. Harmonisation of the law has been achieved in all major jurisdictions except for Victoria and Western Australia. However, Victoria’s Act closely resembles the Model Act and the differences in Western Australia are largely procedural. In effect, most businesses are operating under a national system. This book uses the model WHS Act and is also based on health and safety best practice principles applicable to all Australian workplaces.

Key revisions to this edition

The latest edition encompasses many revisions, particularly the chapters on consultation and management systems. It has also been generally improved – simplified wherever possible and the content modified to include up to date examples and case studies. Special attention has also been made to supplement the text with effective easy-to-use online resources for teachers. The text addresses the following qualifications:

  • BSB41412 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety
  • BSB51312 Diploma of Work Health and Safety
  • BSB60612 Advanced Diploma of Work Health and Safety

What other Cengage resources are in VET Commons?

Good question!

Brand new Moodle course

A brand new free Moodle course to support the delivery of WHS: A Management Guide, 4e has also just been launched.

Each topic in the course is supported by the following resources

  • Chapter text from WHS: A Management Guide, 4e
  • YouTube videos and activities
  • Web links
  • Instructor manuals
  • PowerPoint slides

View a PDF preview of the WHS course content (PDF, 601 kB)

Join the VET Commons community today to access these valuable teaching resources.